Friday, March 1, 2013

Assassin's Creed 4

So yesterday Ubisoft announced the next installment of the Assassin's Creed series.  This is just a short post about my hopes for it and my reflections on the series so far.
First off, I really do like the character design and the general setting.  I was holding out for a game taking place in Napoleonic France, but I suppose that's not off the table yet.  They dropped a lot of hints for future game settings, especially in the glyphs of Assassin's Creed II, and after the Revolutionary War I found Napoleon placed next on my "Cool Historical Settings" list followed by the Mayan setting we saw in the "Hidden Secrets" DLC for AC3.

But pirates are cool.   I get that the naval battles were one of the more popular aspects of Assassin's Creed 3.  I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the only one who found them annoying.  None of the extra naval missions have been completed in my game.  I just hate boats and can't get into the missions.

So in Assassin's Creed 4 I'm hoping that this isn't going to be the focus, or at least make a lot of it.  I'm probably going to find myself disappointed, but I accept that my opinion is probably the very small minority.

The other thing I feel the need to talk about is the general criticism surrounding Connor, the central protagonist of the most recent game.
Yes, Connor was not as well written into the game when you compare him with Haytham or Ezio, but I disagree with those asserting that Connor is a bland character.

Unfortunately Connor suffers from what I like to call the "Katniss Effect."  Let me explain what the Katniss Effect is.  It's when a character is complex and interesting, but most or all of that is expressed internally.  These make really great characters in books, but they fail to translate well into movies or games (basically interactive movies).  Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy is a really interesting and complex character in the book.  Her thoughts and reaction to things are fun to read and I enjoyed watching her internal reaction to things mature over the series.  Her dialogue, however, was pretty weak.  When the book was made into a movie a criticism I heard a lot is that Katniss was boring.  Most of the time she sat there with her mouth closed and a determined look on her face.  For a movie character Katniss is pretty boring.  It felt like in the movie she was mostly used as a vessel to take viewers though the vast world and related horrors of Panem.

Connor is a similar type of character.  Although there isn't a book focusing on his inner struggles I can kind of piece them together based on past experiences with characters like his.  He was also set up to appear weak right from the get go because he was following on the heels of Ezio.  Ezio's culture and upbringing and Connor's culture and upbringing are almost exact opposites.  Ezio was a teen from what is considered a very expressive culture.  Italians are known for showing a lot of emotion and being very verbal people.  Connor lost his mother in his childhood and was raised in a Native American culture that was focused on keeping themselves isolated.  There was no push to share a lot of thoughts and feelings with those not considered part of the close knit group.  We also had 3 games of watching Ezio mature versus Connor with 1.  When you throw a character like Connor into the American Revolution, something a lot of Americans have learned about extensively through school and are fairly familiar with, you're going to experience the same thing as movie Katniss; the character is warped into a vessel to take players through the vast world and historical highlights of Colonial America.

Well, that's pretty much all I have to say on the matter until more information is released.  I really love the Assassin's Creed series and like Final Fantasy it's something where I will happily throw my money at the company.  Probably doesn't hurt that there are a lot of elements in AC from Prince of Persia, another series I absolutely adore (excluding that stupid reboot).

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