Assassin's Creed III Is A Bummer! No, It's Not! Let's Talk This Out.

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Last week, I wrote a lengthy article about Assassin's Creed III and the many ways it's disappointed me. My take on the game stands in contrast to Stephen's—he liked the game fine. Clearly, there's more to talk about here.


Here's Stephen:

It is one of the best video games of the year, one of the most daring developed by a major studio this generation, and one of the most beautiful to ever run on any machine. It stumbles from some awkward glitches and some game design over-reach, but it is superb in a surprising number of small ways. Refreshingly, it is a game about America that doesn't settle for simple fictions when the uncomfortable truths about the United States' history would be more interesting.


ACIII packs surprises big and small, veers away from habits of the older games, and looks a hell of a lot better than them, too, thanks to a new graphics engine. All things considered, it winds up perhaps not as refined as Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, but far more satisfying and well-crafted than the rough draft of Assassin's Creed 1. Connor may not have Ezio's flair, but he has a game that rivals the quality of the Italian's trilogy. Cautious consumers might want to wait for the inevitable subsequent patches, but those who don't mind a few cosmetic bugs should have no fear. This is a great game.

And here's me summing up my gripes:

It's just not very fun. And here we get to the crux of it, I guess. This one's more subjective than all the other ones, but it remains true: I just haven't been having much fun with Assassin's Creed III. When I started playing, I was also playing Need For Speed: Most Wanted for review. (That game? Very, very fun.) Considering how much I've enjoyed past Assassin's Creed games, I was honestly surprised to find myself saying, many a time, "Man, why am I playing this when I could be playing Need for Speed?" Then I figured out why: Need For Speed is fun, and Assassin's Creed III isn't.

It's interesting, and often smart. The story is cool, and I'm one of the people who actually likes that twisty, silly Desmond meta-narrative. I love the sense of place, the meticulously researched history, and think that this time period is hugely underrepresented in video games. I like exploring. But the game, as it stands, just isn't fun. I'm not one to stand on a mountaintop and declare that all games must be "fun," whatever that even means. But surely this blockbuster action/adventure series is intended to be enjoyable to play. And yet, here we are.

After I published that article, Stephen and I had a Twitter debate about the game, the things he liked, and the things he thought I was overlooking. I've re-arranged a few of the tweets so that our conversation makes more sense.


There used to be a Storify embed here, but Storify doesn’t exist anymore.

That still feels like the tip of the iceberg, in terms of unpacking all that this game brings to the table. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it somewhere in between? Is it a disappointment, or do you feel it's lived up to its promise?


I'm curious to hear what you all think of the game, and whether you're enjoying it on the whole, or find it to be disappointing. Sound off in the comments, let's hash this thing out.


Stephen Totilo

OK. Kirk. Round two: I'm really eager to get back to ACIII. That, for me, is usually proof that a game did something right. I'm having to play other games now, but I want to be back in AC III's world. I'll grant that it's not as interesting a place as Renaissance Italy, but I'm still surprised that you didn't take to it.

I'm going to go back to something that your fellow ACIII grump John Teti complained about — the supposedly too-long intro. (Here's me and him hashing it out: )

I did not have a problem with the fact that I wasn't really playing properly as Connor for five hours. In fact, I put it off. I played as Haytham for as long as I could. I liked being that character. I liked ignoring my mission objectives and poking around in Boston and discovering surprises like Ben Franklin's sex-talk and the underground labyrinth on my own. I grew up on Zelda and love games open-world games like GTA: San Andreas and Bully. I long since learned to ignore the main objectives and play as much side stuff as strikes my fancy. This is how I played ACIII, so while you were getting bored, I was finding a fort in the wilderness and raiding it. I was reading funny database entries and running across rooftops.

What's so bad about the game letting you wait put off playing as Connor?