a portfolio of videogame writings
Capturing a sense of time and place has always been central to the appeal of each Assassin’s Creed. Whether the dusty streets of Masayaf, the canal veined archipelago of Venice or the sun baked Constantinople, each of Ubisoft’s chosen settings has been designed with such a degree of authenticity and historical accuracy (albeit twisted for their narrative purposes), that it’s not uncommon to read stories of tourists being able to make their way around Rome simply from having memorised the map in Brotherhood.
It’s hardly surprising then that with Assassin’s Creed III Ubisoft have absolutely nailed a recreation of 18th century revolutionary America. It’s a sprawling land of open forest, bustling colonial cities and epic naval warfare, filled with wildlife, frontiersmen and Redcoats. Everything from the lengthy reload animation of a period musket, to the recognisable compacting crunch of jumping though waist high snow has been meticulously designed: not since Red Dead Redemption’s Wild West has an American frontier been so fully realised and engrossing.
The burgeoning wooden structures of Boston and New York play similarly to the brick tiled buildings of Europe, albeit with a little less verticality and wider streets. But it’s in the forested areas that we see why Ubisoft consider this worthy of another numbered entry into the series, rather than a subtitled sequel. The pine-valleyed frontier is a technical and visual marvel, and whilst there’s a little too much conveniently angular geometry in service of the series’ trademark free running gameplay, it’s varied enough to weave a convincing illusion. The width, depth and breadth of the New World is a grand ambitious statement of intent from Ubisoft – this is their American epic.