Set in the year 2012, the modern-day story of Desmond and his tiny chapter of Assassins picks up right where it left off. The gang has discovered a vault in New England, left there by the First Civilization to prevent some sort of global cataclysm. Desmond and co. will spend the duration of AC 3 trying to find the key to the vault while getting babbled at by deific apparitions and venturing out for occasional field missions. Desmond's gained more screen time with each AC game, and while I don't particularly like him as a person, his story is what gives the others purpose, and his few present-day missions in AC 3 are nice, climactic departures.

But when Desmond plugs his brain into the Animus (a machine that lets him relive the memories of his Assassin ancestors), it's not Connor's face that greets players, as anyone who's been paying attention for the last year would have expected. It's someone entirely different.

In the interest of not spoiling things, I'll just say that you play as this character for several hours before stepping into Connor's capable moccasins. This lengthy prologue provides more emotional context for the entire story, not to mention a build-up and payoff the likes of which are rarely seen in this industry.

Make no mistake: the first five hours of Assassin's Creed 3 are a triumph, and the writing throughout the rest of the story maintains a high standard. By the end you might not even be sure who the bad guys are, and that's a massive improvement from previous titles' cartoonish villains.

Once Connor (known as Ratohnhake:ton in his native tongue) does take over, things speed up considerably, and you'll find yourself jumping forward in time as the Assassin subtly influences important events in American history.

Connor will make his way from the midnight ride of Paul Revere to the battles of Concord and Lexington. He'll sneak behind Redcoat lines at the Battle of Bunker Hill and chuck British tea into the Boston Harbor at the Patriots' infamous Tea Party. There's plenty of filler in between, and frequent leaps forward in time take a toll on the story's clarity. But it's those moments, when you're unsure what's real historical fact and what's been made up for the game, that will stick in your mind once you're done playing.

PAGE 2 of 5