Assassin's Creed III doesn't get much love among fans, and the Switch remaster's lackluster additions do little to change that negative perception.
Assassin’s Creed III sits among the less beloved entries in the blockbuster series but that hasn’t stopped Ubisoft giving Connor’s story another chance in the limelight. Assassin’s Creed III Remastered bundles together an enhanced version of that game, its DLC, as well as companion title Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation Remastered. On PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, 4K textures and HDR support act as the main selling points. But since the Switch lacks that graphical horsepower, what’s left for Nintendo owners looking to stab their way towards America’s independence? The answer is, unfortunately, a barely touched up port that sprinkles insignificant tweaks to an already polarizing adventure.
Seven years and superior sequels have made Assassin’s Creed III, a divisive game in 2012, tough to return to. At the birth of the American Revolution, Connor, a half Native American, half British warrior, joins the Assassin Order. His mission: prevent the Templars from both wiping out his people and gaining immeasurable power. Seeing Connor shoehorned into pivotal roles of nearly every big moment of America’s founding is perhaps more eye-rolling now than it was back in the day. It’s unfortunate seeing as Connor is a more likable character than he was initially given credit for (especially now that he’s far removed from the shadow of Ezio Auditore). Overall though, watching the narrative start strong only to go off the rails has become less infuriating and more disappointing.
The remaster adds new stealth features like double assassinations and the ability to whistle in order to attract targets. They don’t hurt but they also do little to improve the mostly bland mission design. Motion-controlled aiming for ranged weapons works well enough but you’ll likely use it once or twice before reverting back to traditional controls. Other enhancements include touchscreen support for menu navigation and ergonomic improvements. That’s about it for all of the meaningful additions, and it’s quite a letdown given what’s left is the same dated gameplay.
Free-running across tree branches, cool as the idea is, still isn’t as reliable or convenient as doing the same on buildings. The old combat system feels like a messy clash of tangled up marionette dolls and just doesn’t hold up anymore. Naval combat remains solid but it's also been improved upon in later installments. These drawbacks may be plentiful but moments of enjoyment do occasionally arise. What you'll most often feel more than anything, though, is an appreciation for how far the series has progressed since this point.
Most disappointing is that, for a game sporting the label of “Remastered”, it’s tough to see where any of the restoration work went. After playing the original version side by side for comparison, the Switch version of Assassin's Creed III: Remastered looks and runs almost identically to how it did in 2012. Dated lighting makes environments and textures appear flat and uninteresting. The rough presentation looks especially bad when playing on a TV. Handheld mode is the way to go as the screen’s 720p resolution masks the more glaring flaws. Legacy issues have been preserved including rough character facials and jittery animations Load screens often sputter into the next segment. Among other glitches, I’ve seen enemies pop out of existence upon death (robbing me of the chance to loot them) and inexplicably spawn clones that replace them after dying.
Playing a portable Assassin’s Creed game has undeniable appeal but this barebones remaster does little to make Connor’s journey worth revisiting. In fact, this feels closer to a straight up port than anything. It’s no fun squinting for minor improvements while facing the stark reality that Assassin’s Creed III isn’t nearly as enjoyable anymore. But if you absolutely feel the need to relive Desmond’s disappointing conclusion, do so on other platforms. At least the letdown looks a bit nicer there.
Assassin's Creed III: Remastered is available now on the Nintendo Switch , PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. A digital copy for Nintendo Switch was provided to Screen Rant for purposes of review