Created on Thursday, 08 November 2012 05:21 Written by Thomas Visco / Staff Writer
Video games often skirt the edge of gratuitous patriotic fervor or unwieldy conspiracies — see any “Call of Duty” game in the past five years. Games of this sort, claiming to be inspired by modern events, attempt to capture cinematic violence with an overly dramatic plot to synthesize something akin to a late-’80s Charlie Sheen movie. But these games often leave the player without any tangible reason to care for either. “Assassin’s Creed III,” however, tackles this shortfall and shows that there is a place for realism and cinematic drama in gaming.
Starting in 1755 and proceeding through the end of the American Revolutionary War, “Assassin’s Creed III” explicates our nation’s birth in an open-minded fashion. Throughout the game, the main character, Connor, aids the American patriot movement against the British and Tory forces of New England.
Although the writers of “Assassin’s Creed III” could have easily fallen into the traditional tropes of American patriotism, they refused. For instance, many historical figures are characterized in ways contrary to their traditional mythology — George Washington’s leadership is actively questioned as he loses the opening bouts of the war, Ben Franklin is a shameless lothario, and Paul Revere is a bumbling fool.
The historical fiction of “Assassin’s Creed III” serves as a compelling setting for the gameplay. The game transports the player to every major historical event of this time: the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Connor’s presence at all of these events is wonderfully woven into the story and gives the player a sense of historical perspective throughout the narrative — a rare feature in many modern AAA gaming releases.
Additionally, the visceral brilliance of “Assassin’s Creed III” sets it apart from any other game. The combat is horrifically brutal. Based on a reactionary hand-to-hand system, “Assassin’s Creed” players have always used counters against enemy attacks to unleash devastating animated sequences that lead to the death of opponents in incredibly cinematic ways.
The combat is so well-orchestrated that “Assassin’s Creed III” inspires awe from the inhabitants of any crowded living room, and it will make you and your friends feel like heroic freedom fighters — even if you’re just video game enthusiasts.
Despite the graphic glory of “Assassin’s Creed III,” the game does walk a fine line between overly violent and realistic. The enemies in this game are truly scared by Connor’s fighting abilities, and they often show it on the battlefield. Counter moves frequently involve a slowing camera effect that brings the player close to the attack. Players of the game will, at some points, feel pity for their victims as they witness the horror that slowly spreads across their enemies’ faces as Connor grasps them and hacks at their chests with a hatchet.
This violent realism is not confined to counter attacks. Connor has a range of tools at his disposal to deal with enemies. One of note, the rope dart, allows Connor to stalk enemies from above and, when ready, noose them. Once an opponent is caught in the noose, the player has the choice to strangulate from above or to drop to the ground, hoisting the enemy in the air.
This sort of realistic violence, coupled with the unflinching telling of our nation’s history, sends a consistent message throughout the game: “Assassin’s Creed III” is not afraid to be accurate.
And this bravery pays off. “Assassin’s Creed III” is a brilliant game. Its fantastic gameplay, graphics and story firmly place it in any serious Game of the Year conversation. The game is risky in the best way possible, challenging the player to reconsider history and inspiring self-loathing as he or she cuts down enemies. “Assassin’s Creed III” does so all while simultaneously telling a captivating narrative and engrossing the player with beautiful, cinematic violence.