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Assassin’s Creed 3: Meet the new killer

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The assassin walks into a frozen Continental Army camp hidden deep in the woods, dodging as kids run underfoot, playing war. He's not here to play. Information comes to him about a British officer moving troops through the area. "The man's a butcher," they say. "He's marching on Saratoga. You must bring him down."

The path is clear. The assassin breaks into a run, snatching a musket from a stand without pause until every sign of civilization is a memory behind him. A deer leaping through the trees catches his one and only bullet, and he drops the rifle without a second thought. It's empty now, useless. He needs both hands free to plow through deep virgin snow, losing balance once as he sinks up to his thigh.


Low turnout at the Finland Marathon.

Painfully slow, he reaches a snow-dusted tree and becomes fluid again, climbing into the branches and leaping through them with the deer's former grace. He stops above a well-worn path and waits. A troop of Redcoats passes underneath, led by a man on horseback. No one notices the killer poised above them.

His name is Connor, a half-breed of Mohican and European decent, an outsider, a new recruit in the ancient war between Assassins and Templars. And he's here to kill a man.

 

“We wanted a character who was as nimble and agile in the wilderness as past assassins were in the city,” says Alex Hutchinson, the new creative director for the Assassin’s Creed franchise. As the first entry under his direction, Assassin’s Creed 3 fast-forwards 250 years past the era of former series star Ezio Auditore Da Firenze to center on a very different assassin operating on an entirely different continent…one that’s gearing up for the war that changed history.

Connor, on the other hand, just wants revenge. Born as a member of the Mohawk nation, he sees his village destroyed as part of Templar machinations and joins the Assassin Order — recently arrived in the colonies — to fight for the freedoms his brotherhood represents. Meanwhile, a fledgling America struggles to win those freedoms for itself.

While those two goals definitely overlap, “You’re not fighting for the patriots, you’re not fighting against the British. You’re fighting the Templars,” says Hutchinson. In fact, the story spans at least 32 years, from 1753 to 1985, only eight of which (1775-1783) involve the Revolutionary War.

Assassin's Creed 3
He also refuses to take off his shoes for the TSA.

Luckily, a lot of Templar agents hide in British uniforms. That gives Connor plenty of opportunities to vent his anger. He’s by far a more earnest, more intense, more driven personality than swashbuckling Florentine Ezio, with a raw streak of pure rage just under the surface that plays out nicely with Creed's new combat mechanics. Now you take the offensive instead of waiting around to counter-attack, and I'd describe the dance Connor leads as graceful brutality. Hutchinson describes it as balancing responsive violence with "the beauty of the animation."

And make no mistake, you'll find a terrible beauty in it. From his vantage point in the tree, Connor has his pick of targets. He quickly strings up a straggler with a new, one-time-use Chinese rope dart, then drops down to shoot two more with flintlocks, finally announcing his presence. The survivors instantly form a firing line and let fly a salvo…that misses. Connor drops his pistols and pulls his hatchet, dual-wielded with the series' signature hidden blade  (a la Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans), slowly advancing as the Redcoats back away, circling around, sizing up their chances for taking Connor with superior numbers.

And then Connor tears them apart. He’s untouchable, moving through them like a sharp wind. One redcoat takes a hit to the gut and, doubled over and staring at the barrel of his own musket, a miniball to the face as Connor jerks the trigger with the blade of his hatchet.

Assassin's Creed 3
It's like a game of Twister, but all the spots are red.

Taking the aggressive approach only goes so far, though. As Hutchinson points out, “The assassin isn’t an infantryman,” so even though you'll participate in major battles of the war, it won't be on the front lines. Though you're free to close in on the 4000 Redcoats firing volleys into the patriots at the Battle of Bunker Hill if you want. “You will be shredded,” says Hutchinson.

Anyway, your real job involves one specific man, not an entire army. So Connor flanks around enemy lines, taking out a few patrols along the way until he's close enough to leap out of the forest, kill two bodyguards without slowing down, and stab a mounted officer before anyone can blink.

Welcome to the New World.


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