Assassin's Creed III 1-Year Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - November 6, 2013
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To provide an accurate description of my experience with this game's story, I will have to reveal certain details that some may consider spoilers. An accurate but non-descriptive summary would be that I was not impressed with Assassin's Creed III, compared to the other games in the franchise. If you do not mind the spoilers, please read on for the reasoning behind this conclusion of mine.
While the majority of the game is spent in the years around the American Revolution, the game begins many years before it, as you play as the main character's father, Haytham Kenway. For two hours and forty-three minutes I played as Haytham, ultimately having the game reveal to me that he is in fact a Templar. Honestly I figured it out within the first half hour, just by listening to what was not said.
Now, predictability is not necessarily a bad thing, and I do have some, shall we say, advantages when it comes to understanding and predicting stories, so the fact that I figured it out should not be treated as a negative for the game. Of course you are the one to decide if a 160 minute prologue as the main character's father is longer than necessary.
The reason I mention this in the Story section is that I never particularly understood how the story treats this relationship between the leading Templar of the colonies, and the young Assassin, Ratonhnhaké:ton. I believed for some time that the conception of his son was kept secret from Haytham, by the mother, in order to keep her son from becoming a Templar. However, when Haytham and Ratonhnhaké:ton first meet, Haytham knows exactly who he is. I find this puzzling, because from what we have seen, there is no reason to believe Haytham had been informed of Ratonhnhaké:ton's existence prior to their meeting. If Haytham had known about his son prior to this meeting, then why did he not attempt to claim him as his son and make him a Templar? Ratonhnhaké:ton did not know about the Assassins and Templars before meeting Achilles Davenport, the aged Assassin who mentors him and gives him the name Connor, so he would have been easy for Haytham to take in and train. Really Haytham just seems resigned to the idea of Connor being an Assassin.
Compounding this is that the primary focus of Connor is not to defeat the Templars as a whole, but a specific Templar, Charles Lee. When Connor was a child, Lee came to his tribe's village and set it on fire, which claimed the life of Connor's mother. While Connor's desire for vengeance is understandable, it is odd how it ultimately develops into Connor hunting down Lee, after having killed Haytham, who is also the Templar Grand Master in the Colonies. Haytham, in fact, stayed behind to fight Connor to buy Lee time to escape. For some reason, I would expect the leader of the Templars to be less willing to sacrifice themselves for an underling than Haytham was. Their goal is control after all, and it is hard to control if your leader is dead, and a dead leader would also make it harder to find new recruits.
Confusing the matter even more is that Lee's orders to burn the village actually came from George Washington. After this is revealed to Connor, he seeks no retribution from the general. He does not even seem to be conflicted by this revelation, and continues to work with the colonists and hunt down Lee.
To put it simply, this makes me question Connor's motivation throughout the game. Is he out for vengeance? Is he trying to help the colonists? Is he an Assassin trying to stop the Templars? One moment you know it is one and the next it is another, without, in my opinion, a satisfying transition from one to the other.
Something that I have enjoyed with the stories of the other Assassin's Creed games is the parity between the stories within the Animus and outside of it. Desmond, the modern-day person who is living the memories of his ancestors through the Animus, always seems to be in a bad situation when he enters the Animus. The memories he lives help him through the situation, and ultimately become a better person, and better Assassin. I am at a loss for how any parity between Connor and Desmond exists.
The easiest way to describe the story of Assassin's Creed III is muddled, which is a true shame as its literary mechanics offer so much! The ability to have a person live and learn from their ancestors and the situations they were apart of in (a fictional retelling of) history is a spectacular opportunity. Here, though, that opportunity seems wasted to me.