Few gaming franchises could take on an epic challenge like the forging of America.
Assassin's Creed III not only weaves its hero into the retelling of the American Revolution, but does so in beautiful and often-gruesome fashion.
The New World wasn't all bonnets and cornucopias. It was a young land filled with eagerness and colored with blood. "AC3" alternates between future and past with our long-running series hero, Desmond, and his connection to the past, in this edition a half-British, half-Native American warrior named Connor.
Connor's life is amazingly intertwined with major moments of America's birth in New York and Boston. Paul Revere, the Boston Tea Party and other major (and minor) elements of colonial times make appearances and interact with him. You'll sneak around forests eliminating groups of soldiers, while in other set pieces engage in thrilling sea battles aboard enormous cannon-laden ships. There are quieter moments as well, slyly assassinating targets while sneaking around the city's rooftops, or making a life for yourself as you expand your countryside homestead.
A game this ambitious in scope (and trust me, its scale is grandiose) means inconsistencies are bound to show up. Tree branches rarely sway or bend even with humans running along them; some clipping occurs with characters getting stuck in walls and missions need restarting when a required event never happens. These gameplay and presentation hiccups show up more often than you'd like, but they don't ruin the flow.
Online multiplayer returns, with an impressive expansion of content and modes that were first introduced in "Brotherhood." Nothing raises the tension more than skulking around a city looking for a player to silently kill while knowing there are others aiming to do the same to you.
A monumental time period like the American Revolution required brave souls to mold a nation. "AC3" beautifully thrusts you into this thrilling time and creates a great gaming adventure.
Assassin's Creed III, available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is rated M, for Mature. It gets 4.5 stars out of 5.
Going for that second helping of Thanksgiving pie. It's that kind of playful gluttony that infuses LittleBigPlanet Karting, a new entry that brightens your day just when you thought that the world had exhausted itself gorging on kart racing.
LBP is available on PlayStation 3 and is rated E, for Everyone. It gets 3 out of 5 stars.
Racers would do well to begin their journey in the story mode, as it provides a nice setup to what comes down the pike. The racing is pretty standard fare on the surface. Intricate track layouts feature hidden shortcuts and weapons dot the track to help make things interesting. The unhinged goofiness of the "LBP" franchise litters the screen, with racetracks designed from cardboard cutouts and customizable karts of every variety.
Other karting games encourage pandemonium, with explosions and high-speed turns littering the track, but "LBP Karting" tends to favor more strategic racing, saving weapons until they are most needed and focusing on proper drifting when hitting the curves at high speed. Sometimes you sense that fun is sacrificed for precision.
Of course, no "LBP" game stops at the story mode. Creating and sharing your own levels and minigames is a franchise staple. But viewing the complex tutorial for level creation takes longer than watching some Hollywood films. This leaves gamers relying on others with more time and skill to share their creations. "LBP" games thrive on strong user-generated content, and "Karting" will need dedicated fans for it to have staying power.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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