Assassins Creed II Remastered means the game is back and it’s bigger than ever. The title was initially released back in October 2012 to much praise, moving the franchise along with new game mechanics and a whole new story about the American Revolution. It is easy to forget the roots of the series and how far it has come after the recent Assassins Creed Origins and Assassins Creed Odyssey, which really changed things up for the better.
However, if you are wanting to scratch an itch in one of the older games and don’t want to play through Ezio Auditorre’s three games again (Assassins Creed II, Assassins Creed Brotherhood & Assassins Creed Revelations), Assassins Creed III Remastered is a great place to start, given it is a pivotal title in the series history. This one also introduced us to naval combat (a pre-cursor to the highlight of the old series Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag) amongst other things and removing a few of the more annoying gameplay elements that had become stale from the four previous games.
Included with this, you get the Benedict Arnold DLC and the great, but rather strange – three-part Tyranny of King Washington. Alongside this, you also get the PS Vita game Assassins Creed Liberation which is set around the same time period, but in Louisiana with a female assassin named Aveline. This title did eventually come out for PS3 in 2014, which was two years after AC3, and a year after the monumental Black Flag, so I feel the timing was a bit off. All in all, you have a superb package, with many hours gameplay under one hood (or Ezio’s cowl), and not forgetting both have had the HD Remaster treatment for better or worse.
For those unaware, the story revolves round Connor, a native born American who had mixed parents, his mother being native, and father being Haytham Kenway, who was of British lineage. You do start out playing as Haytham, and his story unfolds over the first two hours or so, and after certain events unfold, you take control of Connor. You will start as a child, then teen, to teach you the basics of tracking and hunting before meeting Achilles who trains him and accepts him into the order of Assassins to stop the Templars taking over America during the Colonial Era.
Needless to say over the past week or so, I have clocked over 20 hours on AC3 alone and have loved every minute of it! The remastered version sees new lighting, textures, models and the cities have more life. The game when initially released during 2012 looked stunning regardless, however, the cities weren’t particularly populated well, and the frontier and set-pieces were the best things going for it when meeting historical figures etc. As an example, the scene where you have to get across a battlefield on foot, hiding from volleys of Red Coat musket fire was – and still is – memorable and exhilarating.
The gameplay has had a few decent tweaks to it, but there still isn’t a crouch button for sneaking about, and at times, stealth can literally be walking slowly up behind someone before assassinating them. This can feel a bit off, as shadows cast would make someone aware if the sun was in the right place! A plus, though, is you can now hide in the taller grass, whistle to attract an enemy and silent-kill them while they are searching in said grass.
Visually, the lighting that has been done is absolutely stellar work. I did find, however, that the HDR settings on PS4 Pro were way too bright and causing a migraine. Thankfully, you can tweak the settings to get it just right. I did notice that facial models are a bit worse and puffy-looking compared to the original game, along with the fact that in the opening Opera scene, the hair on the characters as it looked was pretty good, but now it looks like Playdoh-shaped into its place. Why they had to change this aspect, I do not know. I did install the original PC version to compare, but it won’t let you up the resolution to 4K given its age, now. Even though running in a lower resolution, the faces still look way better, as does the hair. I find this quite strange – maybe it has something to do with higher resolution and lighting, but I’m not too sure. The new system of lighting and other tweaks are great and help the game feel fresh, though, in all fairness.
A gripe about some of the new effects is that the fog and mist near the ports or in the forests can be a bit thick. Not quite as bad as the fog on, say, Nintendo 64’s Turok, thankfully, but it is like a pea-souper at times, and reduces the viewing distance, which is pretty bad. A good example of this is the viewpoint near the fort in the South West of the frontier. Once atop of the tree, and you synchronise as the the view spins out towards the trees, it is just a thick orange glare from the sunset and that’s all you see. It is that bad at times you cannot see the hay piles and carts once up high, so you don’t know which way to be diving for the leap of faith.
I can understand – and appreciate a lesser viewing distance – if is raining or snowing, though. I have seen the snow glitching really bad on the homestead, and also frontier where it is really thick. It appears to just randomly have chunks missing from it where it should just be leaving a deep trail from your movement. I have also seen shadows flashing and showing erratic behaviour, the worst being where you have to split up a fight on the homestead, and the tree in the background flashes black and looks terrible. Once you get to New York, the white grid-type thing that highlights “anted posters doesn’t show when not actively escaping from soldiers, and the same can be said for the criers that you can bribe. Trying to find these to remove notoriety is a challenge in itself, if they aren’t showing on the mini-map. The soldiers at New York will chase you down at 1-star notoriety, and every single group you pass will join the chase. I have even been chased with no wanted level, so there is obviously a bug in the notoriety system in that city.
I have enjoyed revisiting Assassins Creed III, and finally playing Liberation. It has a few bugs, but nothing overly bad, except for a lock-up in the modern day, if you jump to a girder in the first mission while there is still talk on the radio!
Controls at times are typical early Assassins Creed, where holding R2 to run can see you suddenly stop and peer round a corner or run up a wall, which is never good when you are trying to make your escape! Not forgetting the rhythmic feel to the combat, where you block and counter or disarm. Things have really changed for the better, but Assassins Creed III is well worth your time, as is Black Flag, Assassins Creed Syndicate & Assassins Creed Unity after it was fixed.
As for this package, it is well worth the asking price and worth playing through to see Desmond’s story come to a finale, and not forgetting Connor’s story play out during an interesting time in American history.
- Developer: Ubisoft
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Players: Single-player only
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!