November 17, 2012

PAINLESS LEARNING:

American Creed : A popular video-game series takes on the Revolutionary War. (Robert VerBruggen, 11/17/12, National Review)

Unfortunately, ACIII gets off to a painfully slow start -- while the series is known for letting its Assassins explore huge historical cities, playing through specific "memories" (missions) at their leisure, this entry forces players along a linear storyline for quite some time. Several hours pass before the main character is even born (the Animus first taps into the memories of the protagonist's father), and several more go by before our new Assassin, the half-white/half-Native American Connor, is fully trained and the events of the Revolution start heating up.

It's worth the wait, though. Eventually, Connor is allowed free rein in a gigantic, beautiful, almost photorealistic rendering of early America, with forests bursting with wildlife, cities buzzing with conversations about the current political tensions, and taverns full of forgotten betting games like Nine Men's Morris. Colonial cities, most strikingly Boston, have been recreated through a combination of actual maps and creative license.

As the story unfolds, Connor takes part in countless pivotal events, from the Boston Massacre to the war's most important battles. Even with the series' Dan Brown-style conspiracy theories worked in at every turn, it is difficult for an American not to revel in a game that involves hurling tea into Boston Harbor, killing British tax enforcers, and accompanying Paul Revere on his famous ride.

Further, the franchise has always done a tremendous job of bringing historical personalities to life -- most memorably, in Assassin's Creed II, Leonardo da Vinci let players take a prototype of his flying machine for a test drive - and in Assassin's Creed III the developers have seized the opportunities presented by the American Revolution. Israel Putnam appears as a gruff, cigar-chomping general, Ben Franklin as a refined academic, and Samuel Adams as a dedicated and thoughtful revolutionary who's more than willing to help Connor keep a low profile.
Posted by at November 17, 2012 6:53 AM
  
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