Assassin's Creed III Remastered Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Microsoft Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
Despite a backlog of spectacular titles, it’s hard to deny that this generation will, in-part, be remembered as the generation of remasters. Everyone’s doing them, and Ubisoft are no exception. On one hand, some of this generation’s remastered titles have been brilliant - Sypro, Crash Bandicoot and Shadow of the Colossus are just a few that spring to mind - whereas others just feel like nothing more than a quick cash grab. Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is the latest in Ubisoft’s quest to re-release the entire series, and while its 4K HD makeover has been well implemented, the original only released six and half years ago, and is still considered one of the weakest in the series, making this return trip through the American Revolution a rather unnecessary one.
Back in 2012, Assassin’s Creed III was billed as a spectacular journey through the American Revolution, and yet it turned out to be nothing but dull. You take control of Ratonhnhaké:ton (aka Connor), a native born to both American and British parents, and set off to join the Assassin’s Brotherhood and hunt down those who would destroy the lands of the native people. Unfortunately, for the first four hours or so, you’re not actually controlling Connor, rather his father, Haytham, in what must be one the most long-winded, and lacklustre prologues of any game. Essentially, this prologue explains the various controls, and introduces all the adversaries you must hunt down as Connor, whilst exploring how Connor came into this world. The prologue also suffers from some lacklustre storytelling, writing, and wooden character animations that have been made worst thanks to a 4K HDR lick of paint. There’s also a modern sub-story featuring Desmond Miles and his adventures to help the Assassins of today’s world. The less said about this the better though, other than it’s just as terrible as it was back in 2012, and feels shoehorned into the series; thankfully Desmond’s story ended in Assassin’s Creed III - it’s a rather big blot on an otherwise brilliant series.
Where the remaster shines is its spectacular game world; the cities of Boston and New York feel alive and look stunning in 4K HD with HDR on, while the diverse forests found throughout the wilderness are a pleasure to explore, especially if you traverse them through the trees, a new feature introduced to the series in the original. The improved lighting and texture resolution makes the remaster look as good as some of the more modern titles of today. Sadly though, the same can’t be said of character models, most of which look something out of a wax museum. Add to that the wooden animations, painful voice acting, and laughable lip syncing, and you can easily see why, despite a lick of beautiful paint, it’s a game showing its age.
Despite some much-needed tweaks to the stealth system, and an increased crowd density, combat in Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is still the game’s weakest link. As with the majority of the series, stealth is promoted and yet poorly executed. There were times when enemies would spot me in hiding places, others where Connor would just run up a wall instead of hiding next to it. When spotted, sword-to-sword combat feels sluggish and slow, and very scripted; wait for enemy to attack, counter, attack, repeat. Combat works best when you’re able to make use of all of Connor’s gadgets such as smoke bombs, poison darts and his pistols, but sadly these moments were minimal.
Nevertheless, some of Ubisoft’s enhancements have worked well. An updated interface and mini-up, along with an enhanced hunting and crafting system makes the title seem like one of the more modern entries.
As with all the Assassin’s Creed titles, the game isn’t over when the credits role, and if you’re a fan of open-world adventures with endless things to do, you’ll feel right at home here. The main story missions will take around 10 hours to complete, perhaps a little longer if you’re after full synchronisation, but following that there’s literally endless things to do. Collectables are spread across the game’s main locations, while side-missions are aplenty. These range for recruiting assassins into your guild to fight for you, to helping locals settle in your homestead, helping you to improve your home and subsequently earn a steady stream of income. If you’re after something a little different, you can also take control of your naval ship, Aquila and set out onto the high seas for some pirating. Assassin’s Creed III introduced the naval combat we’ve become accustomed to in the series now, although compared to the game sequels, it’s very limited.
It’s hard for any remaster to fix the core problems from its original, so it’s not a surprise that combat is still weak, and mission design still poor, but what a remaster can do is fix any bugs and glitches, of which there were many in Assassin’s Creed III. Sadly, these bugs appear to have been carried over, which is nothing but unacceptable. Characters would often fall through scenery, lands would pop in-and-out while traversing the landscape, while some of the AI wouldn’t follow instructions, meaning I couldn’t complete missions. Looking at the remaster on its own, it’s hard to recommend it when deep down its still full of glitches, some laughable, some critical.
Included in Assassin's Creed III Remastered are the three-part Tyranny of King Washington DLC missions and a full remaster of the PS Vita title Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, the latter of which I’ll be reviewing shortly. The Tyranny of King Washington missions are set in an alternate reality and follow Connor in his mission to restore a king-less society to the newly-founded United States of America after George Washington has been newly-crowned. Despite its intriguing story, the content still suffers from the same issues that plague the main story, poor mission design, wooden animations and laughable lip-syncing.
Assassin’s Creed III Remastered looks stunning in 4K HDR on the PS4 Pro, and the new gameplay elements are a much-needed improvement, but I can’t say I enjoyed my journey through the American Revolution any more than I did back in 2012. The story is lacklustre at best, the combat is still hit-and-miss, while the bugs and glitches are still present all these years later. For anyone who never experienced the original all those years ago, it’s worth picking up if you’re playing through the series’ back catalogue, but for everyone else, Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is the remaster no-one asked for!