Ubisoft has done it again. Not only have they released a worthy successor in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, but Assassin’s Creed III also should be on the must play list of every disabled gamer. In addition to posing only small barriers to accessibility, this title features one of the most universally accessible multiplayer experiences on the market.
To begin with, visually impaired gamers will be happy to know that nothing in Assassin’s Creed III is communicated by color only, and the way the game highlights important elements makes it clear to any player what the important components of each area are. The one snag may be an overabundance of the color white. When Connor is focusing on a particular enemy, that enemy is highlighted in a glowing white bubble of sorts. However, when surrounded by the snow covered plains of the frontier, this contrast can be hard to see. But players need not fear, because whenever an enemy is about to attack, an arrow appears above their head, and Connor’s focus automatically shifts to the attacker. In addition to this, the forgiving nature of Assassin’s Creed III means that even if a player loses track of who is attacking them and ends up dying, there are so many save points that they will not have to retread much ground. The only other area in which color is used to communicate something is in the types of attacks enemies use on Conner. A yellow arrow indicates that an enemy is about to shoot Conner, and a red arrow indicates an attack with a melee weapon. But since the animations and contextual clues for both of these actions are so different, it should not be a barrier if a player cannot distinguish color or has other visual impairments.
Players with hearing disabilities will also be able to enjoy Assassin’s Creed III because it features a subtitle system that, while not completely accurate to what is being said, loses none of the main ideas of the dialogue. Once again, the only problem one may run into is when the subtitles, which are white, are overlaid across another white surface, such as a snowy background or, in rare cases, an NPC’s uniform. However, during the 18 hour play through that accompanied this review, such issues only happened maybe one or two times. And it was still possible to determine what was said based on the context of the cinematics. And while it is true that the game uses ambient noise to communicate whether the guards notice Connor or not, the game also uses a graphic interface to accomplish this. Therefore, this should pose little barrier to the hearing impaired.
Players with fine motor disabilities will have the hardest time with Assassin’s Creed III, but most should still be able to enjoy it thoroughly. There were three specific barriers that we ran into that may affect gamers with this type of disability. One is that this game does use quick time events, which require repeated button taps. But our reviewer with fine motor disabilities was able to execute all the needed QTEs that he ran into. To make the case even stronger, most of the QTEs in the game are optional and can be avoided. For instance, if Conner gets too close to a bear, a QTE will trigger in which Conner must kill the animal with his hidden blades. However, the player still has the option to shoot the bear before it gets too close, thereby avoiding the entire QTE. Second, there is also a lock-picking mechanic that requires the use of both sticks and the right shoulder button. But this only came up as a requirement once during the entire play through. All the other instances of this mechanic were optional. And finally, the free running mechanic that Assassin’s Creed is so well known for may be difficult for players with certain fine motors disabilities to handle, but this is unlikely since it seems that in Assassin’s Creed III the free running is forgiving almost to a fault. It seems like Conner has magnets in his boots that prevent him from missing a jump.
The multiplayer in Assassin’s Creed III is perhaps the most accessible multiplayer experience on the market. I was able to reach “prestige” in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and I expect to be able to do that with Assassin’s Creed III. The only possible barrier one may face is that the game does use sound to communicate when the person who is hunting you is close, or when you are close to your target. In my experience, however, these sounds do not help much in either instance.
Please feel free to leave comments below the article that address your particular accessibility challenges with this game. If you feel there is a major omission in this review, please feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “revision” in the subject line. Please include specific details regarding anything we may have missed. If necessary, we will update our review based on your feedback.
Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Auditory Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Released For: PS3, XBox 360, PC
ESRB Rating: M
GameInformer Score: 9.5