Assassin’s Creed III Remastered (2019)
Creative Director: Alex Hutchinson (III), Michael Hammond (Liberation)
Producers: François C. Pelland (III) Ivan Balabanov and Momchil Gindyanov (Liberation)
Supported Platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC
In this era of constant game remasters, it is worth questioning what games deserve that extra coat of polish for modern audiences. Some are remade because they are built on old systems that don’t work with modern systems, some are a quick cash grab, and others are to improve the original and bring it into the modern era. Assassin’s Creed III Remastered (AC3R) walks that fine line, delivering a mostly enjoyable update. For those that purchased the season pass for last year’s incredible Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, this is the final piece of DLC in the package.
AC3R is not just a remaster, but a compilation of two games from 2012, Assassin’s Creed III (2012) and Assassin’s Creed III Liberation (2012). While AC3 was released on only one console a generation ago, AC3L was originally a Playstation Vita game, later released on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 as a downloadable title. Sadly, both of these games were generally overlooked; AC3 due to the quick transition to the next generation of consoles in 2013 and AC3L due to the fact that it was released on the Vita.
AC3 follows the story of Ratonhnhaké꞉ton, who goes by Connor, as he fights in the American Revolutionary War. This setting alone represents a huge shift in the series, as it is the first time the series had firearms as a weapon in them. Thankfully, these are historically accurate guns that require a reload after every single shot.
Not one to play it safe with history, in which nearly all parties are guilty of some atrocity at one point in time, Connor goes about his mission to assassinate members of both the colonials and the British armies, who all belong to a secret organization named The Templars. It is interesting to see some of the same order taking on different sides of a historical argument and allows the game to tell a unique story that you won’t find in other media.
There are some minor changes to Assassin’s Creed III, mostly in its crafting system and how you manage your homestead, but honestly it had been so long since I had played the original that I didn’t notice this quality of life change until I sat down and pulled up a list of changes.
The version of AC3L included in Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is secretly the best part of this compilation, though. The story takes place around the same time as AC3, but in it you play as Aveline de Grandpré, my absolute favorite Assassin from the series. As far as video game protagonists go, she bucks nearly every trend. Oh, and her story takes place in New Orleans instead of in the 13 original colonies, so even though it is in the same era and her and Connor do cross paths, their journeys are completely different. Liberation even features the idea of “social stealth,” allowing Aveline to change her clothes to gain access to different parts of New Orleans as a debutante, her normal self, or a slave. This feature has yet to be revisited in an Assassin’s Creed game and honestly feels fresh as unique to the former handheld title.
So what makes this a remaster? The biggest change is to the graphics, with most textures being completely revisited by the fantastic art team at Ubisoft. Everything is scaled to 4K and locked at 30 frames per second, making Assassin’s Creed III Remastered one of the smoothest experiences in the franchise. The one glaring blemish on this great experience is that the animations haven’t changed since 2012, so you get weird clipping here and there compared to the fluid and adaptable animation rigs in the modern Assassin’s Creed games.
While it has been a while since I have visited Assassin’s Creed III, Remastered provides a nice excuse to visit a super-polished version of a game that had a solid foundation to begin with. The real treasure here, though, is Assassin’s Creed III Liberation, which offers a unique take on the Assassin VS Templar war that rages across history.