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I’ll be keeping this site up and running as the guest contributor archives, so my former Player 2 writers have a place to maintain their authorship.

Any and all new Videodame posts will be going up on Medium from now on, so please join me there. Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you soon.

Assassin’s Creed #5

AC5Now that Assassin’s Creed has wrapped up its first story arc, it would seem to be a fitting time to start making some overall assessments. As a finale, issue #5 is a touch better than serviceable, finally putting Charlotte de la Cruz into real-world action, and providing an opportunity to meet and get a little bit of insight into the motivations of the Joseph we’ve been listening to de la Cruz’s Brotherhood handlers argue about for the past four issues.

I do still have some niggling complaints. The action logistics, for one, are still a bit loose. At one point a character is revealed to have secretly placed a timed explosive, with a delayed triggering system over which he has no control whatsoever but still detonates at exactly the right moment. Similarly, de la Cruz makes her first kill in manner clearly designed to absolve her entirely from responsibility from the reader’s point of view but leaving her as a character carrying the full weight of her guilt.

This in itself could be an interesting twist on the action film cliché of the anti-hero who performs morally reprehensible actions “because he has to”—think in particular of the moment at the end of the film when the action hero confronts the disarmed villain, worthy of death, and declines to kill him. The villain then produces a hidden weapon when the hero turns his back, allowing the hero to kill the villain in a moment of quick-draw self-defense. The story gets to have it both ways, providing the audience the satisfaction of seeing the villain die without having to take on the moral taint of extra-judicial murder.[1]

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Assassin’s Creed #4

AC-4As an action narrative, Assassin’s Creed #4 delivers a number of welcome indications that the series is just about ready to start delivering on the promise of its first issue. As Massachusetts Bay Colony assassin Tom Stoddard’s story comes to an end, the burden of action shifts to his present-day relative Charlotte de la Cruz, who in the final panel comes to the realization that she is going to need to step out of the VR chair that has largely confined her for the past two issues and rely on her own strength.

From the beginning, Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery’s Assassin’s Creed has gestured toward a fictional universe in which neither side in the intergenerational war between Assassins and Templars had an unqualified claim to the moral high ground, embodied mostly in Tom Stoddard’s indifference to lives incidental to his mission, and the conflict between his ethical standards and those of his contemporary descendant (and, it is assumed, those of the reader). Assassin’s Creed #4 enriches that conflict by offering a Templar character the chance to act as an individual moral agent, and re-centering its focus on the motives of a modern-day Assassin who may or may not have betrayed the order.

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Brothers and Sisters of the Creed: Unsung Assassins

After the Kenway family played their part, the gaming scene was flooded with the Assassin’s Creed franchise. There was a large DLC coming for Black Flag, a title for the PS Vita, and two new full games being made so that Ubisoft could make their money. This meant, however, that many of those products were easily overlooked and their characters forgotten, as the oversaturation led to glitch-filled games and weak, unexplored protagonists.

Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation holds the distinction of being the only game in the series with a solo female protagonist to date, however, the limitation of the Vita and the nearly paint-by-numbers storyline took a lot away from the title. Aveline de Grandpré is a New Orleans native of French and African descent who uses various costumes to infiltrate the worlds of the social elite and slaves, while hiding her true identity as an assassin. The setup is brilliant, but it is underused. She struggles with her dual lives while having an odd relationship with her father—who may have been in love with her, depending on how one reads into it—and has to fight her own mentor, Agaté. It is an odd look at male figures in her life. Aveline accomplishes so much though, ridding New Orleans of all Templar activity, but the story goes by so fast and everything feels vastly abbreviated from the normal games, so the growth isn’t there. Players got a bit more character depth because there was almost no meta story to take away, but it was still a drop in the bucket compared to the others. If there is any character I want to be given another full game, it is her.

Continue reading Brothers and Sisters of the Creed: Unsung Assassins