While Assassins Creed 3 was praised by critics for its combat, visuals and engaging narrative when it was first released back in 2012, fans had more of a lukewarm response to the game. It wasn’t easy meeting the standards set by both the previous three games in the franchise and by everyone’s beloved Assassin Ezio, and the disappointment was almost palpable. Now almost seven years later, Assassins Creed 3 has once again come to current-gen hardware in the form of Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered.
To start with, the developers have taken full advantage of modern consoles to ramp up the game’s visuals. It looks monumentally better than the original release to the point where it’s sometimes hard to tell that this is the same game. The HD textures work wonders here, and there’s a very noticeable increase in the details on everything from the streets to the buildings to character clothing. The Frontier in particular deserves a special mention in this regard, since it outshines just about every other location in the remaster with much denser foliage and better animation.
The lighting is also vastly improved, with it being almost up to par with some modern releases. Shadows as a result are also much more defined and realistic now, particularly during sundown when an orange glow basks the world.
There are however issues with the visuals that sneak up every now and then that are hard to ignore. First and foremost, is the fairly occasional disappearance of all textures on both wild animals and NPC faces. It’s a minor issue by itself, but when a bear shows up in the wild that looks like it has no fur, because the textures have not loaded yet, it looks pretty off-putting, especially when the game otherwise looks so stunning.
And I’m failing to recall if this was an issue in the original release, but there’s also a constant clipping issue in the game where hair goes through clothes and the clothes just blend into horses when riding. It’s quite noticeable, and very annoying to look at.
Combat on the other hand is still really fun, and I’m very glad to see that now the weapon wheel doesn’t transport you to another screen. For reference, in the original release holding down the weapon wheel button would fade your screen to black for a moment before opening another window where you could switch equipped items. It was incredibly immersion breaking, and it’s now been replaced with a less intrusive overlay.
Other improvements to combat include the ability to now whistle to attract enemies to cover, and the much welcome ability to double assassinate in Stealth. I was also surprised to learn that now when you attempt to assassinate an enemy from behind, you use the hidden blade by default, making sure that no one is alerted to your presence. Also of note is the new mini-map that now shows the directions enemies are facing.
Now I’ll discuses some things about the game that should not be ignored just because it is a remaster and most fans of the franchise already know what they’re getting with this game. This is for any readers that might be new to this entry.
Assassins Creed 3 has one of the best stories in the entire franchise, with some genuinely jaw-dropping plot points and twists, but there’s something that holds it back from true greatness. That’s our protagonist Connor, and while once I may have dismissed him as being a bad character, I’ve now come to know better. Conner, or Ratonhnhaké:ton, is a very interesting but poorly written character.
He’s a character who we see grow up in front of our eyes as we play through the game, and we see him suffer with very relatable issues like discovering who he is and finding his place in the world. The overarching plot about the Templars and the Assassins is great, but Connor’s personal story is what really shines. It would shine a heck of a lot more if the writing and delivery was better, but it’s not.
One criticism I’ve constantly heard about this particular complaint is that Connor was just written this way on purpose to emphasize his particular demeanor as an outsider. And to that I would respond that similar personalities have been done much better before in other games, with much less dialogue and much more unrelatable characters. Connor’s problem is that he is just not written well enough, and the game is worse off because of this.
Additionally, Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered suffers from some mission design issues that the franchise has thankfully grown out of in recent years. Long instances of Connor just walking with other characters as they talk, and the utterly egregious eavesdropping missions where players have to stay within a certain radius to listen to NPC conversations while staying hidden and avoiding any combat because a single enemy spotting you means the checkpoint resets.
It’s repetitive and annoying missions like these that truly show Assassins Creed 3’s age. Thank god I had missions like the Battle of Bunker Hill to look forward to, which still remains one of my all time favorite instances in any Assassins Creed game.
In conclusion, this remaster is the best way to experience Assassins Creed 3, and that should be a sentence that you’ve heard quite a bit by now. It looks and plays phenomenally on the Xbox One X, and even the base Xbox One, and it adds a bunch of useful new mechanics to the game.
And while fans of the original release won’t need any further reason to pick up this game, newer players who haven’t played this before should be aware of its faults. It’s a good game, and if you’re willing to forgive it’s rough edges, you’ll have a good time.
Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered is out now on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the PC, with a Nintendo Switch release set for May 21st. It was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. This review covers the Xbox One version of the game.
The review copy was provided by the publisher.
Assassin's Creed 3 Remastered Review
While Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered looks absolutely stunning, it does show it’s age in many areas. It’s a good game, but its faults can’t be ignored even 6 years later.