Between games like Hitman Absolution, Dishonored, and Mark of the Ninja, there has been no shortage of Assassin games here in 2012. And that’s a good thing; after all, with their sneaky ways, slick combat, and overall badassery, it’s a pretty awesome feeling when you’re able to score on your target and deliver as an assassin.
But there are two very distinct games released this year that offer differing takes on the assassin trade and what we know and love about it. So for the sake of argument, speculation, and pure fun, I’d like to pit both Assassin’s Creed III and Dishonored against each other in an epic battle to decide which one offers the better overall assassin experience.
Assassin’s Creed III takes the series to a new setting and location in the American Revolution, putting players in control of the half-Native American, half-European Assassin Connor Kenway.
For all its novelty, the story of Assassin’s Creed III isn’t necessarily the strongest of the series. Pacing is terrible, Connor is an uninteresting character, and the game wastes hours with the story of a completely separate character.
But poor pacing and characterization is remedied with a bustling and living world filled with history and well-researched concepts. During the main campaign, you’ll take part in key historical events and meet several familiar faces from history that call on you for help, offering up a unique perspective on American history as never seen in a game before.
Unfortunately, Dishonored’s story doesn’t do much better. It tells the story of Corvo Attano, a bodyguard fallen from grace after being framed for the death of the Empress he was once sworn to protect. The story itself is generic and predictable, characters aren’t that interesting, and while the world is incredibly unique and deep, all of its important lore and backstory is hidden away in collectibles, leaving it a bland experience for those who aren’t concerned with exploring every nook and cranny it has to offer.
For all its issues, the world and events of Assassin’s Creed III stand out above the lackluster result of Dishonored’s narrative, giving it the edge in an overall story.
Assassin’s Creed III saw the implementation of a refined combat system, relying on counterattacks from a third-person perspective, much like Batman: Arkham City. The combat system doesn’t necessarily have any deep button combination complexity, but it does have multiple animations that illustrate brutal kills in a seamless and satisfying fashion. You’ll also be able to equip different weapons in combat that break up the experience and keep it interesting.
Dishonored, on the other hand, takes the completely opposite stance from AC3, with a first-person perspective and some reward for offense. Blocks and counter-attacks are found within the game as well, but Dishonored’s true strength lies in the brutal stealth kills. Head-on combat is dangerous, especially because the game relies on health potions rather than regenerative health to allow Corvo to survive, making you more wary of your decisions and approach to combat.
Dishonored also has the perk of supernatural abilities to beef up combat, including slowing down time and calling on rat minions in order to distract enemies.
Between the two, combat is a pretty even toss-up, lending itself more to the tastes of individual players rather than appealing to all. Personally, I enjoyed the nature of ACIII’s combat, but found Dishonored’s to have a bit more depth to it.
Stealth is one of the most important elements of an assassin game. Sneaking around, performing stealth kills, and finding ways to slip past enemies without being spotted is at the core of a great assassin game.
Assassin’s Creed III had some stealth-based missions, but the stealth mechanics themselves were pretty poor. You don’t necessarily have the best idea of whether an enemy can see you or not, missions tend to be pretty linear and point to obvious tactics in order to hide, and bugs and glitches lent an extra layer of difficulty when working through the game. Stealth kills are fluid when they work, but weren’t always successful, often leading to your detection (and sometimes failure of a mission) when approaching a guard from behind.
Dishonored, on the other hand, has the obvious upper hand here. It’s a stealth game to its very center, and a well-designed one at that.
Probably one of the game’s biggest strengths is the fact that it was so non-linear and open in fashion that it allowed players to approach a mission from whatever angle they wanted. It is completely possible to go through the entire game without killing a single enemy, or be a mass murderer and kill anything that moves. Hiding places, vantage points, abilities, and specialized weapons all allowed you to treat missions like you would a puzzle with multiple solutions. Stealth kills were seamless and brutal, and it wasn’t hard to hide from enemies after being detected.
Of course, the first-person perspective for Dishonored served to make things feel a bit awkward at times. You don’t always have a firm grip on your location or position when moving around (especially when platforming), and it wasn’t always easy to tell if you were adequately hidden from the guards or not.
But for its issues, the stealth mechanics of Dishonored stand clearly above Assassin’s Creed III in nearly every way.
Both games are massive, leaving them with their fair share of bugs. Dishonored features a highly stylized world with unique art design, but textures and environments looked pretty rough on consoles. The world of Dunwall was interesting, but vacant, and didn’t necessarily have the visual fidelity of other stealth games of late.
Assassin’s Creed III, on the other hand, is one of the most beautiful games I’ve played on a console this year. Environments are carefully laid out and designed, visuals are stunning, and despite the bugs and issues, it looks fantastic and features a busy world full of people and life.
It’s because of its overall aesthetic and construction that Assassin’s Creed III takes the cake with presentation.
Picking the best assassin game between these two is a tough call; both are good games, with solid mechanics and conventions. They’re also both very different, offering different options and opportunities to players. But if we’re talking strictly from the standpoint of being a badass assassin, I have to give Dishonored top honors here. For all the great combat sequences and gameplay variance found in Assassin’s Creed III, it doesn’t hold a light to how amazing you feel after clearing out a room of guards using different weapons and supernatural abilities without ever being detected.
What’s your pick? Write it in the comments below!