It might have received our exalting Best in Show award at this year’s E3, but Ubisoft knows it’s going to need a stout marketing campaign in order to sell Assassin’s Creed III to record-breaking European audiences, particularly in the United Kingdom.
While cultures on both sides of the Atlantic are comfortable with the real-life history of the Revolutionary War – America’s winning of independence from their perceived tyrannical rulers, the British Empire, in 1783 – a distinct sentiment among some gamers is that the developer is exploiting the period, advertising its events as a way to “just kill a bunch of Redcoats.” Ubisoft found themselves on the defensive just this June, a writer having to publicly state that Assassin’s Creed III isn’t anti-British.
Enter “Rise,” the latest Assassin’s Creed III live-action trailer composed specifically for the European market. Released just days after the “Independence” trailer, eight 10-second vignettes shot on a high-speed camera depict the kaleidoscope of pro-American personas involved in the American Revolution, from a young soldier in the Continental Army to a British politician in Parliament to a defiant American schoolboy.
It’s clear the trailer wants to show what calls these characters to the cause of revolution – what galvanizes a farmer to burn his crops, a young mother to take up an axe against pillaging British soldiers – all the while staying grounded with solemn, subdued patterns of inner dialogue and background action. In other words: European viewers get a break from the previous controversial fare, like, you know, Connor shooting a rope dart into a British soldier’s neck and slinging in him up on a tree.
But will the stunning cinematography, the dramatic tales of strife and struggle, and the gripping orchestral soundtrack provoke an equally rousing response among its target audience? For many fans the politics are a non-issue; Assassin’s Creed III is a game, a work of fiction, and shouldn’t be subjugated to such intense does-Ubisoft-hate-the-British scrutiny. And yet it’s no coincidence that the developer released a more subtle trailer to coincide with America’s Independence Day – the observance of July 4, 1776 as the day the United States declared itself a sovereign nation (even if, technically, Congress passed the vote on July 2). There has to be that message stating, “Here’s how you, too, can take satisfaction – pride, even – in a game that shows your country humbled and crippled in defeat.” Bombastic battle sequences. Brutal assassinations. George Washington’s inspirational battle speeches. They just don’t have the same vibe.
Ubisoft doesn’t, and shouldn’t, feel obligated to placate its European audience by tweaking the narrative or softening the violence (we still haven’t seen evidence of Connor fighting against the Americans, as many think the developer has hinted at). At the same time, though, “Rise’s” muffling of the nationality issue – frivolous as that issue may be – is audible, especially when its body count is juxtaposed against that of the cinematic AC III trailer from E3. It leaves us to wonder where the overseas ad campaigns begin to head from here, less than four months shy of Assassin Creed III’s release.
Assassin’s Creed III releases on October 30, 2012 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC; a Wii U release is expected to follow shortly after. Be sure to check out our recap of the game from E3 as part of our E3 2012 awards list.
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