Predator Vision: Assassin’s Creed III
Chances are you are neither deranged enough nor wealthy enough to ever hunt your fellow man for the sweet, pleasurable sport it is and the ultimate satisfaction it grants. Relative to a rich crazy person who can afford to release and hunt a man on their grand estate, you’re probably on the scale of poor.
Good thing video games can help satisfy that intense, almost unbearable, craving that burns in all of us: the desire to destroy a person, like Greg the barista who works the 5:30 AM to 1:00 PM shift at the Starbucks down on College Blvd.
Ubisoft Montreal’s latest effort in the Assassin’s Creed series boasts a variety of artificial intelligence characters, both animal and man, to slay (and be slayed by). The A.I. isn’t particularly astonishing but it’s effective in keeping the illusion and providing challenges. The charm of Assassin’s Creed III is its colonial America setting, with the Assassin-Templar shadow war taking place in the burgeoning cities of the time as well as in the untamed frontier.
But the real beauty of the game lies in the open world freedom and the impressive tools given to you to stalk, hunt, and kill a digital man from the 1700s, like Greg the barista’s fifth great grandfather, Merriam the tavern worker, a craven, reptilian Loyalist and Templar who was discovered in a patch of hay with a poison dart in his back and puncture wounds through his sternum, you know, just to make sure.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), the game goes out of its way to make sure you can’t kill civilian colonists with reckless abandon but there are ways around that if you’ve had a rough day…
Like many releases since Red Dead Redemption, ACIII features a hunting mode that tasks you with gathering pelts and other animal bits while also helping to hone your manhunting skills. You can hide in a bush and throw bait to lure the creatures over and stab them in their cute faces. Or you can perch in a tree and wait for that hulking bear to wander beneath you, then pounce and dig your blades in.
Killing woodland creatures is good fun but the possibilities truly expand when you decide it’s time to start after semi-distant ancestors (or Greg’s now widowed fifth great gam gam).
Say you find a line of redcoats marching through the forest, you can hide in a tree and wait for them to pass, nock an arrow and loose it at the officer in the front, then rope dart the straggler at the back and leave him dangling from a branch as you descend and cut your way through the rest of the soldiers with whatever weapons you feel like using, ranging from knives, tomahawks, war clubs, swords, wrist-mounted hidden blades, pistols, and muskets.
Or maybe you decide it’s time to storm the British fort on the outskirts of town because that Englishman looked at you funny and now he’s got to die (and because he’s probably related to Greg anyway). Go ahead and cut his face off, then use his friend as a human shield when the gate sentries take aim and fire. Finish them while they reload, then pick up a fresh musket and use its bayonet to fight your way towards the fort’s captain until you’re close enough to make that one shot count.
But sometimes you want more than one shot. Sometimes you just need a 30 cannon broadside. The firepower is at your command when you take your warship into the waters of the Atlantic, where you’ll have to maneuver against both the harsh sea and enemy vessels in exhilarating naval warfare.
With its formula of open world gameplay coupled with free running mechanics and a stylish combat system, the AC series provides a unique A.I. killing experience current games don’t quite offer. With all the digital ways to exorcise your demons in Assassin’s Creed III, it’s a good time to be an apex predator of digital prey.
By Jeff Le