Connor eventually has rights from his mentor and master assassin, Achilles Davenport, to invite craftsmen escaping the war onto his homestead. This sets up an extended economy-management system for the game and the ability to upgrade tools and weapons.
Spending time among brilliant war and political strategists, slaughtering bad guys, listening to opera, feeding a pig and playing a round of the board game Fanorona simply are not enough for developers, so they felt compelled also to toss in a surprisingly entertaining naval-warfare simulation as Cmdr. Connor moves up and down the East Coast in the Aquila, blasting away at enemy vessels.
He can steer the ship, open full sail, guide the ship into a dock, and instruct his crew to fire the cannons and swivel guns at hostile vessels. It is a well-done and welcome extra attraction to the main events.
Despite its all-consuming story, constant action and reverence to the historical period, there are design glitches. At one point, I had to restart a mission when one of my adversaries got stuck on top of a barrel while throwing rocks at me, no matter how hard I tried to kill him with a sword.
Along with the lengthy solo saga, the Assassin’s Creed package also offers the enjoyable return of eight-player online battles in which assassins kill assassins. Players hunt each other in arenas filled with civilians and use such auditory hints as heartbeats and whispers to track targets and avoid pursuers.
Options feature the new co-op Wolfpack mode and the choice of more than a dozen avatars, including a Pawnee warrior, a Hessian soldier, a Colonist sharpshooter, a Jack the Ripper wannabe and a seductress.
After I recently returned from touring the real Boston, Assassin’s Creed III delivered for me a virtual travelogue worth of additional memories while tapping into its tantalizing revision of history.
The action gives a player in pursuit of gaming happiness an ambitious effort lasting dozens and dozens of hours, making it one of the stars of 2012.
More important, the game may actually make gamers want to learn something about an incredible and dangerous time in American history.