If you read my last post about it, you could be wondering exactly what I thought about Assassin’s Creed 3. You may also not be wondering, but to sum up the previous, the introductory character of Haytham Kenway seemed awesome and I was pretty excited to see what the rest of the game had in store once you took over as Connor. I was excited. I figured if that were a throwaway character, that the main part of the game had to have someone amazing in the rest. It did, but it didn’t stop me being wrong.
I don’t like Connor. He seems more like a throwback to Altair before he first danced with Robert de Sablé, all gung-ho and full of bravado, the way opinionated young men tend to be. At the early stage of the game, you expect that to be the case, before the character learns that they’re really part of something bigger than themselves. When tragedy strikes, you expect it but you also feel it. When he seeks out the relatively uncapitalised-upon character of Achilles Davenport, you see him learning more.
The problem is that the character doesn’t grow. Whereas Altair and Ezio both changed over the course of their initial games (Ezio moreso in the expansionish AC2 sequels), Connor doesn’t seem to. If anything, he becomes more stubborn, more irrational, and more likely to not listen to any opinion that doesn’t match his own. He’s a character that doesn’t believe he can be wrong about anything, and has no hesitation in being rude or insulting others, continually acting like any hurt kid with an axe to grind.
There’s a touch of Indiana Jones to Connor’s story, in that it seems that if the guy had done nothing at all, things may have worked out better for him. I don’t really know how accurate the locations are, or how memorable the events portrayed in the game really were. I’d heard of a handful of them, but the majority of what happen during the American Revolutionary War is beyond my immediate knowledgebase – not really a topic of discussion in general Australian schooling.
The other things that annoy me about Connor, are:
a) every memory sequence opens with a narration. WHY is he narrating his own life?
b) for an assassin, he’s as subtle as flintlock pistol in your mouth. Can’t he be even a little bit stealthy?
Oh, and for the game in general – the control scheme changed for no discernable reason. The addition of climbing trees/rocks didn’t feel as natural as I thought it would be, and the most fun part for me would definitely be the sailing. It’s a little arcadey, but it was never meant to be a piracy game.
Haytham does continue to play a significant part in the rest of the game, but (and hey, I warned you about spoilers) he’s portrayed as a bad guy – the grandmaster of the Templars, and also Connor’s dad. No, that’s not really twisty. The game tells you these two things pretty early on. Despite seemingly an evil bastard, there’s still something oh-so-compelling about him. His dialogue is snappy in a “Fob off, I’m British” kind of way. There’s some awkward bonding between him and Connor, and an inevitable confrontation making me wish I could instead let the old man win. That shouldn’t happen. I should not be actively rooting against the player character!
But, Connor and Haytham’s story is only a sideshow to the real thing, and I’m not talking about the founding of America.
Desmond Miles, the everyman of the series has gradually become less of an everyman, and a character in his own right. I wasn’t hugely invested in his story, which turned out to be a good thing, yet was still curious. A crazy-ass solar flare (obligatory xkcd nod here) is about to destroy civilisation unless Desmond and the Sidekicks manage to activate an ancient machine possessed by Juno, a residual energy version of an ancient race. For ease of explanation, I’ll refer to her from this point as The Catalyst.
The short version is this. They’re too late to active the machine. Juno can help, if she gets released. Another catalyst shows up and says not to. They show Desmond a vision of what happens if they don’t – civilisation mostly wiped out, but then rebuilt. He becomes a prophet, his words get twisted and in the distant future, people will be persecuted and killed in his name. The cycle continues. The alternative is to release Juno, and she’ll do really bad stuff like… well, they don’t say. But BAD. Probably not returning library books on time, and jaywalking. Real sadistic shit like that.
But Desmond has a choice. More than he knows.
The player, not so much. Desmond chooses to add his energy to the crucible and dies. Juno says “You’ve played your part, now it’s time I played mine.” and ominously walks toward the camera, so you know shit is about to go down!
If the AC series had built up attachment like Mass Effect did, this would’ve been a way bigger issue. I don’t know why endings are so bad in things. Games, TV, movies (HELLO PROMETHEUS), and especially books. It’s like they don’t know where it’s going when they start. It’s okay to not know the journey, but you need to know your destination! “Begin with the end in mind”.
All in all, I’ve decided to spend a bit of extra time in Assassins Creed 2: Brotherhood, because with 3, well…