So I just bought the newest CD-Action (the biggest Polish gaming magazine), and they did a clever trick in this issue - basically, they "reviewed" AC3, meaning that they played the full game and wrote a long article about it, but they never call it a review per se, they didn't grade it as well (they have a 1-10 grading system). Here's the cover:
The article had a reasonably big spoiler about the beginning of the game and the reason Demond is reliving his ancestors' lives again, I won't tell anything about it. I will only list new gameplay details and their impressions from the game.
As Ubisoft probably reviewed their article before allowing for it to be published, I take that it's entirely okay for me to repost these information here. If not, then I'm sorry, I hope it's not bannable to post the following info.
Here we go:
- aside from the "cookie cutter" beginning, the story is written extremely well, no more "Assassins = good, Templars = bad" routine - they are portrayed more like in AC1, having the same goal but different opinions on achieving it
- the trees in the Frontier feel very artificial, the paths that the branches make poke in the eye more than the ones in the cities. Also, sometimes it is difficult to see the spots you can climb, especially on stone walls
- animal baits sometimes trigger a funny effect where they attract huge amounts of animals (the author compared it to the scene from one of the Shrek movies, where forest animals charge at Fiona)
- there are challenges connected to hunting, like "kill X bears with the hidden blade" (not sure if it is an actual challenge, it was used as an example)
- the Assassin recruits are obtained by finishing quest lines to liberate city districts
- you can now send your recruits to do missions anytime, from anywhere, no need to find pigeon coups
- you can only use the recruits in cities
- (not entirely new info, but slight minor side-quest spoiler, so I'll write it in black) there are side missions in which you must check if the trappers' stories are true - Sasquatch and Kraken are mentioned as examples
- looting convoys earns you money and other goods
- there is a lockpicking minigame
- there is a fistfighting club
- in order to produce goods in the Homestead, you must not only help the people who ill eventually settle there, you must also obtain schematics for items like medicine or clothes - you either find them in chests or learn to create them by experimenting (they did not specify what "experimenting" means in this case)
- the journalist claims that the main quests in AC3 takes around 20 hours, and completing all the side missions and challenges should last another 20 hours
- it is implied that muskets cannot be purchased or worn at all times, they have to be stolen, similar to pikes in AC2-ACR
- the combat is very similar to Batman: Arkham City with enemies attacking you constantly and more than one at a time, but the journalist described B:AC battle system as "unattainably perfect", I guess that means he found the AC3 fighting system worse. He said that he used the tomahawk through most of the game and that he absolutely loved the animations, though
- the journalist claimed that he spent very little time running on rooftops
- the enemy AI is not very great, sometimes you can run away from enemies by running in circles around a hay bale, or soldiers falling to their deaths from rooftops while chasing you (I doubt that last one is bad AI, some people are dumb IRL as well :P ), friendly NPCs also don't adjust to your speed very well and sometimes run to you only to stand still for a couple of seconds, then repeating it
- there are visible clipping issues, for example the lockpicks sometimes don't fit in the keyholes, enemies' bodies and weapons sometimes float in the air, and carts sometimes ignore horses "parked" on streets, "ghosting" through them, braids and ponytails also clip through faces
- the characters' faces are done extremely well, with eyes "that feel more alive than in majority of games"
- there are issues with the camera, sometimes it positions itself very poorly and sometimes even stops working (as in you can't move it with the right stick)
- the "wait, I did not want you to do THIS!" freerunning issues return - the journalist mentioned one occasion in which he tried to climb a certain spot for 10 minutes, because the game wouldn't let him climb it, while he eventually succeeded
- riding horses in the Frontier is not a good idea, horses are described as "incompetent", making free-/treerunning a faster way to travel, though riding helps in winter when the snow slows you down a lot
That's it, all of the new details that I found. There are also some multiplayer details, but I didn't care to translate them. If this thread won't get locked and people will want me to, I will post the multiplayer info (though I don't follow the multiplayer news, I won't be playing it because I find it unfair with all the leveling and perks, so I will post it all)
EDIT: Since people seem to focus on the journalist's opinion too much, I will say that in the final paragraph he said that the game's flaws are either familiar enough to the fans that they are used to them already or not big enough to have a serious impact on the experience. He also says that AC III refreshes the series very well, that playing it is very very fun and you just want to keep coming back to play it.