During the start-up process of every Assassin’s Creed, a disclaimer of sorts appears on the screen for the game’s audience to take note of: “This work of fiction was designed, developed, and produced by a multicultural team of various religious faiths and beliefs.”
Whether necessary or not, it’s certainly apropos. After all, the series’ two former protagonists – Altaïr ibn La’Ahad and Ezio Auditore – have both amassed untold body counts of members of the Christian Knights Templar, all in the name of their Assassin Order and its doctrine of beliefs. If anyone was offended by the use of religion, Ubisoft was clear to express that this was a bipartisan work of art. A game, not an agenda.
They might be expanding that disclaimer for the beginning of Assassin’s Creed III.
Not only does the Templar/Assassin dynamic come into play with the next highly anticipated installment of the series; with the game entertaining major markets in both North America and the United Kingdom, so to, it seems in some cases, does the old nationality angst of the American Revolution.
Lead Assassin’s Creed III writer Matt Turner spoke back in May about the American Revolution simply playing an intersection to Connor’s real fight against the Templars; it wasn’t just an American “ra ra” story. Yet going back to Assassin’s Creed III’s reveal back in March, every trailer, screenshot and sneak preview of the game has been decidedly one-sided. Redcoats have been hacked to pieces by Connor’s tomahawk, strung up on trees at the end of his rope dart; British officers have been dehorsed in brutal assassinations, while American officers gallantly lead the charge of battle. Even the latest AC III cinematic trailer from E3 depicts Connor firmly in General Washington’s camp.
“[The AC III story is] not meant to be loyalists versus patriots; it’s assassins versus Templars. There’s a revolution going on and Connor will experience all facets of it. It’s not as simple as Templars backing the crown and assassins backing the patriots, it’s really two factions at war against the backdrop of another war. I have nothing against the Brits.”
In fact, May doesn’t even see the war itself as an America-vs.-Britain conflict. He simply breaks it down as a war amongst the British – those loyal to the Crown and King George III, and those seeking independence from what they saw as his tyrannical rule:
“[AC III] occurs against the backdrop of the Revolutionary war. And to be even more evasive, everyone back then was a Brit, this was not Americans against British – this was a British civil war.
Marketing historically rooted games internationally is always dicey. (In Germany, for example, games like Call of Duty are forced to remove swastikas and other Nazi-related symbolism from their subject material.) It would have difficult for the writers of Assassin’s Creed III – with their direct use of real-life characters, events, and locales from the American Revolution – to craft a genuine and grounded narrative without polarizing one side or the other. No doubt, though, the staff Ubisoft are well-prepared to field questions on the anti-British bias issue, and even if that means making note of it at the beginning of their game, we hope it doesn’t interfere with their vision for the Assassin’s Creed franchise. (We’re still a long way off from Assassin’s Creed 10, after all).
Ranters, were do you stand on the violence against the British in Assassin’s Creed III? Is the Ubisoft simply trying to convey its Templar stroyline within a complex event? Are they blindly pandering to American nationalism? Or is their partial mix of both?
Assassin’s Creed III releases on October 30, 2012 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. A Wii U release has not been confirmed.
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