I will give you a simple plot summary of the “Assassin’s Creed” games, because if I told you everything, it would read like an Onion newspaper article mocking video game complexity.
In the “Assassin’s Creed” universe, we portray a present-day bartender who was kidnapped by a secret society, which forces us to time-travel to the past. This secret society thinks our bartender is The One and that he can stop a solar flare from killing life on Earth, if he can find magical thingamabobs designed to combat solar flares.
We time-traveled in the first two games to Renaissance Italy and the Holy Land. We began to unlock mysteries to save Earth.
We defeated villains and killed anyone who got in our way. We climbed buildings, parkour-style, and jumped across rooftops.
I promise that’s the short synopsis of the first two “Assassin’s Creeds.”
In “Assassin’s Creed III,” we time-travel to Colonial and Revolutionary Boston, we do parkour climbing, we look for magical thingamabobs, we kill some bad dudes, we kill a few dogs who treat us poorly, we pet dogs who treat us nicely, and we solve mysteries.
But redundantly, it feels to me as if we’re watching a lot of film scenes about plot, or running around looking for something to do.
To be respectfully blunt, I do not love this popular and acclaimed game, although it has greatness within it for players who enjoy cinematic epics in which they can roam around ceaselessly.
“Assassin’s Creed III” begins with hours of blah. We board a ship and listen to ship workers. We fix loose sails.
We arrive in Boston. We listen to people talk. Occasionally, we finally push a button or two on our hand controllers. When we’re lucky, we engage in a quick and easy sword fight.
Fortunately, visual presentations are so spectacular, they make mincemeat of most movies.
But camera angles can be quirky when I look in certain directions. I’ve had trouble making muskets work. The quick-time event/button-response system is tedious during snowy-forest dog attacks.
I’m bored by the slow escort missions and by riding a horse for 15 minutes. I am not exaggerating when I say I developed yawn tears often during “Assassin’s Creed III.”
Ultimately, I am not giving this game a star rating because I finished only 15 percent of it over 10 hours. I didn’t play long enough to figure a star rating, because I was dreadfully bored.
I gave up during yet another dreary scene in which I had to sneak behind bad guys to eavesdrop on a long conversation. Eavesdropping: Snooze.
I enjoy the artistry. I admire the attempt to interest me with a long narrative. And it has a good heart in freeing Native Americans and slaves.
But a game is a game. For me, compelling game-action moments are too spread out in between free-roaming and cinema tales. If you love “Assassin’s Creed III,” I’m glad. But I’m moving on to “Halo 4.”
“Assassin’s Creed III” by Ubisoft retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for PC — Plays dull. Looks great. Moderately challenging. Rated “M” for blood, intense violence, sexual themes and strong language. N/A out of four stars.
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at http://www.lvrj.com/columnists/ Doug_Elfman.html. Twitter at VegasAnonymous.