Both a blessing and a curse, the amount of time and emotional investment gamers place into their hobby is extraordinary compared to movies or even books. It would be nothing to drop 40 hours on a game and a year later, drop another 40 on the sequel to that game. This is how it has been for me and the Assassin’s Creed series. Now, with the release of Assassin’s Creed III, I find myself once again diving into the world of Desmond Miles, the Animus and the Assassin Brotherhood.

For the uninitiated, each Assassin’s Creed game is broken into sections played in two different time periods: the present day as Desmond Miles and then in the past as one of his ancestors, in this case Connor, a Native American out to save his people. Ubisoft does a really nice job wrapping up the overarching storyline in Assassin’s Creed III (the fifth in the series) as Desmond desperately attempts to save the world from the impending solar flare apocalypse. Though, I’ll fully admit that if you haven’t played previous titles in the series, the overall story will make absolutely no sense at all. In truth, I’m guessing most people who actually played the previous titles didn’t really get the ending either.

As the major wrap-up to this storyline, Ubisoft really went all out. The areas are huge. In Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed Revelations, each game had one large city to explore. Assassin’s Creed III has two large cities to explore and the wilderness frontier that is even larger. The best part is that despite the massive environment, AC3 is graphically, the best looking to date. Ubisoft has also expanded what you can do in the world besides blending in and assassinating people from above. In the frontier, you can hunt wild game – from rabbits to deer to bobcats to bears – using a variety of methods. In the cities, you have some better ways to hunt or tail your prey, including my personal favorite, the lean on the corner and peek around. They also included a new form of tailing an individual where you can eavesdrop on special conversations as long as you stay in the perimeter of the target.

My favorite addition to the game is the introduction of the naval missions. The experience of sailing a ship out on the high seas, securing trade routes or hunting down Templar agents, is thrilling and fun. I will admit that it isn’t the most complex of game mechanics, but I feel that’s the appeal of it. Ubisoft did a spectacular job with the visuals of the naval game, especially the feeling you get from the ship movements as you increase speed, open the sails or begin sailing against the wind. They really captured the sailing and naval battle experience. In fact, I would be willing to pay for DLC of just more naval missions.

That is not to say Assassin’s Creed III is a perfect game. Although you are informed early in the game of improvement to your character to leap properly, I still found myself jumping in directions that I had not intended. This is especially frustrating in chase sequences where leaping in the wrong directions means restarting the sequence. There were way too many times I shouted “No, Connor, NOOOOOO” as I plunged to my death. Another frustrating aspect was the number of times the game restricted me as to how I had to complete a mission. Using an alternative or creative method to complete a task would often end the mission in failure and leave me in confusion. Lastly, I occasionally found myself defeated by odd AI path-finding. For instance, I’m supposed to be tailing a group of people and eavesdropping on their conversation. Normally, there are plenty of opportunities for me to blend into crowds with the occasional risky spot where I have to go it alone, but what would happen is one of the AI guys would bump into the other one and turn around and see me. He didn’t turn around to look, the AI just bumped into the other character and spotted me. The worst part was all these problems culminated in one section: Sequence 8. That entire sequence highlighted every low point of Assassin’s Creed III, making it difficult to move on.

Overall, Assassin’s Creed III is a fantastic experience and a great way to end this story arc. Ubisoft added a lot of great new mechanics and a huge open world to explore. If you are a fan of the series, this is a definite purchase and if you are new to the franchise, I would suggest you go back and pick up Assassin’s Creed II on the cheap and begin the journey there. It’s time to save the world.

For purposes of this review, I played this on Xbox 360 and had a synchronization of 90% in 40 hours of game play.  Be sure to check out my gameplay and commentary highlighting one of the naval battles.

Additional Videos:

Assassin’s Creed 3 Limited Edition Unboxing

Assassin’s Creed 3 Boston Gameplay Official Commentary

Assassin’s Creed 3 Frontier Gameplay Official Commentary

Assassin’s Creed 3 Official Outsider Trailer–Dw

Assassin’s Creed 3 Official Unlock Gameplay Trailer

Assassin’s Creed 3 Official Connor Weapons Trailer