Assassin's Creed III- Video game Story and Character Problems I
OK, as a gamer, I love video games. As a writer, I love to write and study characters and stories. So this is the obvious marriage of my interests. Discussing story and character issues I've found while playing a video game. This has nothing to do with things like game mechanics, I'll leave that to the pros like Angry Joe and others. Instead I'm going to look at what I found to be troubling so far as story and characters in video games. If this goes well, I'll make future Video game Story and Character Problems blogs. Without further ado...for our first entry...we shall discuss Assassin's Creed III.
Oh, and [River Song Voice]Spoilers.[/River Song Voice]
Ah, Assassin's Creed III. I actually had a mystery story set during the American Revolution, and, like Connor, my protagonist had a white French father and a Native American mother. Unlike Connor, however, my protagonist was not a badass assassin leaping off of tall buildings. He was just a blind kid solving murder mysteries. However even he would facepalm at all the illogical issues this game experienced. Let's go through them bit by bit.
Connor Kenway had a tragic childhood. At the tender age of five, his village was burnt to the ground by white men and he watched his mother die. Years later he learned that his white father is a member of the Colonial Templars, and the man who basically ruined his life, Charles Lee, is among this order and works close to his dear old daddy.
And...that's about it. That's all we know of the man. He spends the game not having any emotions whatsoever aside from the occasional bawling of "WHERE IS CHARLES LEE!?!" at the top of his lungs. He reacts to everything with boredom. From chucking tea into Boston Harbor to arranging a marriage between his fellow neighbors, Connor reacts to the world as if he were the male, 18th-century version of Bella Swan from Twilight.
I think I know what they were trying to do. They were trying to make Connor be this stoic badass, but the execution was just sloppy. Want an example of an excellent stoic badass? John Marston from Red Dead Redemption. He's not Mr. Chuckles FunTime, but his dialogues, his actions are interesting enough to make us relate to him. He even gets plenty of hilarious one-liners both in the main plot and the side activities. You really feel like he belongs in that world, and is through him we feel like we're part of that world. This is what you want for your protagonist. He may have a tragic past, he may be Mr. Stoic Seriousness, but you still want the readers to feel some sort of connection, something that lets us visit that world. Imagine it like this: the protagonist has opened a door to his/her world and is inviting you to come in. Well, if he/she is too boring for the reader's taste, then no way is that reader going to feel comfortable in that world.
This is where Connor failed. He was so stoic that I honestly didn't want to be a part of that world. Yeah, I get he wanted revenge, but I had nothing to make me feel like I could enjoy learning more about him. What are his interests? His hopes? His fears? What does he like? What are his hobbies? If he's playing a board game, does he like this particular game or does he mutter 'I wish I was playing [insert other game] instead...'? If he's winning or losing in that game, does he make snarky comments? If he's hunting, does he express fear or interest in a certain game he's chasing after? Does he start hyperventilating and has to calm himself down if he's entering bear territory? WHAT? Nothing. None of that. Outside the revenge quest and "WHERE IS CHARLES LEE!?" there is nothing that makes Connor well-rounded in my eyes. Nothing that makes me want to figure out who he is.
A revenge quest turns into Connor taking part in every single important moment in the American Revolution, even assuming a commanding position in the field. Look, I know Connor's in the middle of a war zone, but just because your story is set during a war doesn't mean he or she has to bear witness to it, or be a commander in a battle.
The story was flat, and to be honest, I think one of the problems was that it ran against what Connor's motivation (what motivation there was anyhow). Connor wanted Lee, right? So how is helping the Continental Army in their battle going to achieve it? That'd be like me having my blind Colonial detective, somehow, for some unknown reason, against his own wishes and the plot, become a spy for the Continental army. Why? Connor, you're an assassin. Lee's right there!! MY BLIND PROTAGONIST COULD PUT THIS TOGETHER, YOU DINGBAT!!! HE WOULD HIT YOU WITH HIS CANE FOR BEING SUCH A FRICKIN' IDIOT!!
What was the point of Connor fighting a revolution that he himself said he wanted no part in, and that he didn't care about? It feels as if in the middle of the plotting, they felt like they needed to jam in the Revolution somehow. But, see, you don't. If the plot doesn't demand it, and it goes entirely against what your protagonist is fighting for, then don't do it. My detective might have talked to John Adams if I allowed him to, he might have had a discussion about liberty and monarchy with Alexander Hamilton if I allowed him, but that would have been the most I'd do. I would not have Adams or Hamilton assign my character the delicate task of being a courier for them, for instance. (Hamilton probably wouldn't even acknowledge the boy's existence once he realized the boy's true loyalties...)
All in all, it felt like two plot threads that were stitched together in a clumsy, awkward way. If fighting in the Revolution would get Connor closer to Lee, then make it make sense instead of something random like, "Random dude! You can fight, yes? Command these forces!" Basically, when you construct a plot, it has to make sense from the beginning to the end, and if you plan on throwing a war story into the mix, you'd better figure out how to make that make sense. So if I decided to have my protagonist's town suddenly be a war zone as British and Colonial forces duke it out for control of its ports, I'd better figure out how it ties it to the whole gig of detective mystery, which is what the story would be about.
OK, can I just discuss this glaring absurdity? After you beat the game, you can play board games with George Washington. The guy who basically killed Connor's mom. WHAT. THE. FRICKIN'. &&&&?! If my protagonist's mother were murdered, the boy would ride a flying pig and build snowmen with Satan before he'd sit down and play board games with that murderer.
In conclusion, poor plotting and a flat character resulted in a horrid game.
So, how did I do? Liked it? Didn't like it? Any tips on making future blog entries about video game character and story issues interesting?
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