Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered (Switch) Review
If I could, I would have just submitted a 2000 word document repeating ‘Release the Assassin’s Creed: Ezio HD collection on Switch’ for this review. Short of that, Ubisoft has given us an Assassin’s Creed game to play and enjoy. Strangely, it’s the third main game of the series and the fifth game of the Desmond arc, but we have to get our Assassins Creed where we can it so here we are. Does this remaster do enough to lift up one of the weakest entries in the series? I sure hope so.
Assassin’s Creed 3 is the final chapter to the Desmond story. Time is running out and the destruction of the earth is fast approaching, if Desmond and the small team of Assassins can’t find how to stop it. After several games playing as Ezio through the Animus, this time Desmond takes control of Connor Kenway (or Ratonhnhaké꞉ton), a Native American during the American Revolution starting his journey to become an Assassin. It takes some time to reach this point, after a lengthy hours-long prologue and moments returning to the world out of the Animus. Over the course of the game Conner will be doing his bit to overthrow the Templars, hunt wildlife, and help re-establish a homestead and build a small community.
AC3 is not the most fondly-remembered entry in the series. Desmond’s story has already dragged out over four other games (at least), and over that time the overall story had gone from genuinely interesting to messy and ridiculous. It feels like AC3 bears the burden of an already bloated franchise, along with having to wind up a story that went off the rails a game or two ago. It didn’t help that after doing away with the charming Ezio, who had grown and matured over three games, they replaced him with Connor who was back at step one, only more brooding. Combined with Desmond in the modern day sections, there is less levity in this game and the series is often at its worst when it takes itself too seriously.
If you’ve played almost any of the Assassin’s Creed games, you know what you’re in for with AC3. Sneaking through crowds and bushes, climbing buildings and assassinating Templar’s…as well as soldiers that unwittingly work for the Templar’s. To make your way through the cities, you can either run around on the ground like a chump or you can climb everything and jump from building to building and climb some more (until the game messes up and makes you jump away from a ledge you were holding to your death). The parkour elements of Assassin’s Creed has always been fun, especially the three Ezio-focused games before it, with large sprawling cities and many tall buildings. That is until AC3, where the towns while big, they lack the verticality of the previous games. Don’t get me wrong, the running around is still great, it just felt like a step back. AC3 also introduces hunting out in the wild, having you effortlessly jumping from tree to tree. It’s still a great feeling moving around when you find the right path along the branches without touching the ground. There’s even naval combat here as you can take to the sea. It’s no AC: Black Flag but it’s another thing to do when you need a break from the story.
When the game was finally announced for the Switch, the footage was shown and one of the notable things was that the game ran rough. No one expected that we would be getting a remaster comparable to the other consoles/PC, but calling it a remaster on the Switch almost feels misleading. The Switch version does carry the quality of life improvements the others have, only everything else seems to be much lower quality. The frame rate is a mess in both handheld and in docked, it’s only less noticeable in handheld. How much the frame rate will impact your enjoyment will really come down to how sensitive you are to frame rate drops and general choppiness. For myself it was noticeable, but years and years of enduring all over the place framerates I can push on without it ruining the game. Understandably this isn’t the same for everyone, what is hard to ignore is the draw distances and detail suddenly popping into view as you run around. A weird aside is that everything often looks too dark, except for the eyes, OH GOD THEIR EYES! During cutscenes, you’re often reminded that the lighting is too dark as everyone’s eyes are lit up so brightly. Throw in some very bright iris’s, the look is creepy and reminiscent of the screenshots of AC character models gone wrong. AC3 also isn’t free of audio issues, mostly it’s the crackly noise when starting a mission. It’s something you’ll hear a lot, it doesn’t ruin the game but is just emblematic of the issues throughout this version.
I’m sure it would be a sizeable list to go over all of the issues here, but honestly we could be talking about any of the Assassin’s Creed games. They often bug fests, hell, AC: Unity essentially released broken. This release isn’t anywhere near that, it runs as well as the Xbox 360/PS3 versions did. if you want the smoothest possible experience I recommend sticking to the portable mode. It is currently the best way to play a full-fledged Assassin’s Creed game (once again unfortunately it’s not the Ezio collection)
Assassin’s Creed Liberation is a pleasant bonus. Originally a PlayStation Vita title to tie in with AC3 and since ported over to consoles, now it’s a part of the collection and is an actual remaster. Liberation follows the story of Aveline de Grandpré; a French-African Assassin living in New Orleans who happened to be the first female lead character for the series. While the game has been given an overhaul since its Vita beginnings, it still shows a lot of its handheld origins. Being less demanding on the system may also be why it runs better than the main game. Make no mistake, it’s a good addition and having a whole extra game added is nothing to be sniffed at, especially when it’s a good AC game.
This remaster also includes the DLC alternative three-part single-player story The Tyranny of King Washington. There are also a few other bonus missions as part of the bundle. Even if you have the digital version you still need to download the extra DLC from the eShop. There’s not much to say about the DLC, although it’s great you’re getting all the content from AC 3 and the King Washington story is a neat little alternative ‘what if?’ adventure.
Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered is a tricky one. The term ‘remastered’ feels a little disingenuous compared to the other consoles. Yet at the same time, the game at least in handheld runs as well as it did on last gen consoles. If you want to play Assassin’s Creed how it used to be on a handheld, you can’t go wrong with AC3, as long as you can accept it as it was a generation ago. If you didn’t like AC3 the first time then this time around likely won’t change your mind. If you haven’t played the earlier entries in the series, this would be the weirdest place to start.
Hopefully this isn’t the last of Assassin’s Creed we see on the Switch.
Rating: 3 / 5
- Assassin’s Creed finally on the Switch
- AC: Liberation included
- Plays alright in handheld
- Not so good docked
- AC 3 is still one of the weaker entries in the series and not newcomer friendly
- Glitches: sound, visual and technical