By Adam B. Vary
June 06, 2012 at 05:15 PM EDT

The Game: Assassin’s Creed III brings the centuries-long battle between the shadowy Assassins and the power-hungry Templars to the American Revolutionary War, as seen through the eyes of a half Native American named Connor Kenway. (Out Oct. 30, 2012, for PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and PC)

What We Played Saw: There wasn’t anything quite playable yet, but I did watch extensive demos of three distinct levels in the game. The first: Connor traipsing through tree branches as he hunts deer and fights off marauding wolves, and then later stalks and kills a Templar British officer stationed in a sizable wooden fort. The second: Connor serving as captain of an American warship in the Caribbean, steering his ship in rough waters as it battles a British man-of-war. The third: Connor diving and slinking through the streets (and, in one case, the homes) of pre-Revolutionary War Boston, en route to assassinating a British naval captain docked in Boston Harbor.

The Good: Where to begin? Whereas the last two Assassin’s Creed games (Brotherhood and Revelation) both felt like decent polishes on the graphics and game play in Assassin’s Creed II, this true sequel features major advances in just about every aspect of the game. Climbing up trees and through branches is far more fluid and intuitive; dispatching enemies far more inventive and ferocious; evading capture by blending into surroundings far more credible and natural. The bustling crowds of Boston look and move more like actual human beings do, and the game now features a side-mission system that, when successful, results in the good citizens stepping to your aid (like opening a door for a quick flight from pursuing redcoats). And at the risk of sounding like a breathless cheerleader (too late!), the look of the aforementioned naval battle left me thunderstruck, from the undulating ocean waves to the breakneck strategy of aiming cannons.

The Not-So-Good: Um, that Connor’s story remains oblique? That there’s still every chance this game will feature yet another mytho-religious cuckoo sci-fi climax? Really, though, my only complaint is that I didn’t get a chance to play any of it.

Excitement Level (on a scale of 1 to 10): This is easy: 10.

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Read more:

Ubisoft’s E3 conference: ‘Assassin’s Creed 3,’ ‘Far Cry 3,’ and the Wii U

‘Assassin’s Creed 3’ trailer: Finally, a videogame about the Revolutionary War

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