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Hands On: Assassin's Creed III

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I was very excited to see a demo of Assassin's Creed III at the Wii U press event, especially since it was being manned by the Frag Dolls. Unfortunately, I didn't get to run across rooftops, swing amid the trees and assassinate anyone. No, this demo showed off the ship-to-ship combat, which was the aspect of the game I was least excited for. Oh well!

You basically walk up to the helm and take control of the ship, at which point, you have to face off against your opponent's ships. You're meant to destroy two of them, and leave the big one to damage and then board. Of course, the demo cuts out just as you're about to swing over and engage in man-to-man combat! Dangit!

The graphics and sounds are good, on par with the current generation of consoles. I keep waiting for something to look better than this gen, but so far, not happening. The GamePad is used to display a map of the combat area, and also to switch between weapons. (You can use firebombs to sink a ship, and chained cannonballs to snap the masts so they can't get away.) I'm still a little wary of using the GamePad touchscreen for inventory control, because it requires looking away from the TV. This works in something like Zombie U, because they actually built that into the gameplay, but otherwise, I think it's a little awkward. Maybe it'll just take some getting used to. The ships control like... well, ships. They're big and cumbersome. It wasn't too frustrating to steer, though... well, except for when I accidentally ran aground because I wasn't paying enough attention! I will say that it's also confusing to attack from the side of your ship. It's so ingrained that you fire from the front that to pilot a ship with cannons in the side, I kept forgetting that's where they were and wondering why I wasn't hitting anything!

I still didn't really enjoy the ship-to-ship combat, but at least it doesn't seem to last very long. And if it lets you continue on to board the enemy ship and slash everyone to ribbons, that could be fun. I'm just a little concerned that Assassin's Creed III is leaning too far away from what made the series fun in the earlier installments. We'll just have to wait and see, I guess.

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