By now newswires and blogs all over the interwebs are lighting up like crazy with discussion and impressions on the recently revealed information concerning Assassin’s Creed III. Throughout the last few years, the series has achieved a feat that many would say is impossible for a great majority of IPs on the market; it has become a regularly annual release and known success worthy of a potential game of the year candidate almost every time. Each installment gets better and better and each one still plays longer than the last four Call of Duty campaigns combined. Even the introduction of their online multiplayer fared considerably better than other tacked-on acts of ill-conceived protocol; do I really need to bring up Dead Space 2 and BioShock 2 to seal the deal on this point? Hopefully not.
The story of Desmond Miles and his ancestors has essentially become one big interactive journey through history that even thge most dedicated truants wouldn’t cut out on. Probably because mass killing is involved, but hey let’s be humanitarians for a little bit! We’ve experienced the religious turmoil of the third crusade, the beauty and mysteries of renaissance Italy, the rough and dismal aura of Eastern Europe, and now we will relive a young America’s colonial days during the revolutionary war. It’s an exciting and impressive timeline, and the kind of vastly detailed and evolving open world setting Assassin’s Creed has become known for contains a stable formula for longevity.
Don’t be fooled by the Ezio Trilogy, sure maybe Ubisoft could have ended it a game earlier but they were wise enough to realize things were desperately due for change. Way to flirt with the edge of redundancy there Ubisoft, but alas you’ve ultimately avoided disaster! As great a character as he is however one more game with Ezio in it and I might actually start hating the Italian side of myself. But thankfully his story is done, and it’s Connor’s turn.
With a new time period comes new architecture, a new assassin, and with that new assassin comes a new arsenal indicative of that era. This is how Assassin’s Creed will maintain their endurance, offer the same style of navigation and gameplay with tweaks here and there as ideas for improvement arise, but bounce us around the globe and immerse us in those many cultures. Here in lies the ultimate potential for the franchise’s future, and it would be a grave mistake to forgo other eras in history that either pre-date or run congruent with the American Revolution; which should ideally be the closest to modern days the series comes considering Ubisoft risks ruining what makes Assassin’s Creed different from the pack should they delve into modern combat. Not a lot of realism with a guy in a white hood running around a desert town trying to take out soldiers wielding RPGs and AK47s with a 12 inch blade in his wrist. But toss an assault rifle in the assassin’s hands and BOOM; you have yourself another “military” shooter. May the franchise never cross that line, for the sake of us all.
Assuming developers harbor no such policy of refusing to backtrack in time for future games, there are quite a few timeframes that would be a great fit for the AC play style. Most notably the series has yet to feature an Asian setting. While the continent is rich with an incredible amount of history for centuries, the most conceivable period of time that would fit the series like a glove lies 500 to 600 years ago; I speak more specifically about the Sengoku period of Japanese history. This is a familiar setting for established titles such as Tenchu, Ninja Gaiden, and Samurai Warriors; Assassin’s Creed can easily bring its clearly superior gameplay style to this time however and do more justice than the aforementioned titles combined.
Imagine a simple farmer living in service to his lord and working out in the fields from sunrise to sunset for the sake of his wife and two young sons. For dinner they eat a humble meal of rice porridge with carrots, throw in some eel on a good day for the fisherman of the village. They are thankful for every bit of food and sleep well under a roof that protects them from the heavy rains despite leaks that line the corners of the roof. During the day however, the farmer is constantly harassed by a group of pig-headed samurai (Templars) who spend their time out of battle exerting their power by oppressing the serfs and other common folk. One incident goes too far however, one of the Samurai threatens the youngest son of Tatsu (hey, I’m not going to keep calling him “farmer” every time). Enraged, Tatsu takes up his farming kama and attacks the Samurai, killing him while he was off guard. Chaos ensues, but another farmer close by acts quickly and helps fend off the others and gets Tatsu to safety. It was however too late to save his family. The savior reveals that he and others are a part of a group of Ninjas (Assassins) who have been planning to strike back against the harsh treatment for quite some time now. Aware of his family’s slaying, Tatsu swears vengeance against Oda Nobunaga (or Hideyoshi Toyotomi depending on the exact decade) and agrees to be trained by the Iga Shinobi in the art of stealth, the kusari-gama, ninjato sword, and shuriken. Oh, did I mention a hidden wrist blade? Yeah I hear assassins like using those. Little does he know the kinds of secrets that were about to be uncovered which would turn one man’s simple plan of vengeance into the continuation of an age old power struggle that has swept the globe and afflicted many behind a curtain of secrecy.
From here there are countless other directions that the series can be taken in. French Musketeers during the time of Cardinal Richelieu and King Louis XIII, Chinese officer of the warring states period during the three kingdoms, or Canadian hockey players rising up and fighting the power of the tyrannical wolverines. With that being said….oh alright, so I was joking about the last one. Although, it would make for a pretty interesting game! I’ve no doubt that Assassin’s Creed III will not only reinvigorate the series, but it will empower Ubisoft to hopefully continue the battle between Assassins and Templars in as many stages of history as possible. Yes, that was a SoulCalibur pun.