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Has Assassin’s Creed Lost Its Way?
Assassin’s Creed is a series that has captured the hearts of many gamers. The original was unique both in gameplay and in story telling, deviating from the set standard of the time by implementing a different approach to how the player becomes engulfed within the fictional world. It was this primary singularity that has caused the series to grow in popularity to the point where a tiny sneak preview video of some pre-alpha footage of the next game can make Twitter explode. However, with this new trailer comes a lot of unsettling questions to a person who has played the series from the start. Does it appear that Assassin’s Creed 3 (AC3) is derailing and distancing itself too far from the original ambitions of the first game, or is this new direction a step forward in embedding Assassin’s Creed as one of the best series in gaming history?
This is where the AC community is at a rift. On one side of the chasm are those that believe the stories of Ezio and Altair have been beaten and milked too much, and that AC needs to adopt a new aspect in order to maintain popularity and to keep the players interested. The opposite camp pines for the completion of these two storylines, believing that Ezio, Altair and Desmond are what makes AC great and to deviate away from this would be the death of the series. Both arguments are equally valid, and once dismantled are down to each persons personal connection with the AC story. I belong to the traditionalist camp, scoffing at those who wish to take my precious original AC and turn it into some sort of horrific spin-off. Of course this view, with any traditionalist view, does impede progress for the sake of attempting to recapture the old magic of the Days of Glory.
The new pre-alpha gameplay footage of AC3 depicts scenes and words detailing the new protagonist, Connor Kenway (Ratohnhaké), as the man ushering in the rise of the United States of America to world power. Whilst I can’t deny that the trailer and footage shown does look amazing, deep and well thought out; I can’t help but feel that it is not Assassin’s Creed. Where will the Pieces of Eden fit into this? What is the tie to Desmond, the Knights Templar, the order of assassins, the entire storyline? Will AC3 be just about the struggles of one man to overcome every enemy ‘no matter their allegiance’ and leave us nothing regarding the epic century-spanning story arc that has been so intricately and carefully woven? Will AC3 end up like Mass Effect 3 and Gears of War 3, a great game without doubt, but with endings that leave the player shocked, disillusioned and thinking that the previous games meant nothing?
I understand the need for progress, for a movement away from the decreed normality in order for innovation to occur and for new and amazing gaming adventures to spring forth. However, I don’t like being left in the dark, or seeing a story cut short, or even fixing things when they’re not broken. Whilst AC3 does indeed look incredible and will no doubt be amazing to play, I feel I will hold reservations when doing so. The American Revolution is one of the most defining points in history, but is it right for the setting of a new AC? Why not during the French Revolution, a part of history filled with suspicious assassinations and strange, unexplained occurrences. The Storming of the Bastille, the Napoleonic Wars and the Reign of Terror to name a few would, in my opinion, be a brilliant setting and a natural progression for the AC series.
I’m not one to shoot down a game before I’ve had a chance to play it. I do have some doubts about AC3, regardless of how great the gameplay is I fear that the story will be lacklustre and shall leave many gamers feeling let down and disheartened. However, to keep with the great and powerful words of author unknown; ‘Keep your words soft and sweet, for tomorrow you may have to eat them’ – I am looking forward to AC3 immensely, I just hope that my fears are put to rest when the game is out.