Why is George Washington “possessed” in the Assassin’s Creed III DLC?

2 January 2013 by , No Comments

Commenting on a trailer that came out almost a month ago may seem a bit redundant but I feel there’s a lot that still need to be said about it.

You see, I’ve been rather looking forward to The Tyranny of King Washington, the upcoming Assassin’s Creed 3 DLC. I like alternate histories. “What if” scenarios have great potential for interesting, or even just entertainingly insane, possibilities and the story of rebels liberating their land only for them to turn it into a tyranny has an inherently deliciously irony for storytelling.

Which is precisely why the trailer still bugs me, even a month on. Because I feel it’s copping out. More than a few Americans were up in arms at the idea that George Washington (apparently the “greatest human being alive” according to some particularly outraged YouTubers) was going to be portrayed as a tyrannical king. Now, I’m not going to jump the gun and say that the decision to call him “a possessed tyrant” in the trailer was a way of pacifying these people but I will be very disappointed if that turns out to be true. The embarrassingly juvenile “Retake Mass Effect 3” event and how it browbeat Bioware into making the Extended Cut is still fresh in my memory and I’ll be none too pleased if the fans turn out to once again intimidated the developers into appeasing them. Because this is a story that I feel has a great amount of potential in it. Potential that I’d truly hate to see it squandered because of overcautious developers self-censoring themselves.

In the past, Assassin’s Creed‘s alternate history series stated that Winston Churchill was in cahoots with Adolf Hitler behind the political scenes, plotting to manipulate the destiny of mankind through World War II. Now, if writers are going to have the balls to write something like that – since most Brits do not take kindly to Mr. Churchill being associated with fascists, as the BNP can testify to – then they should be allowed to follow through with it. They should make a good story of it. They should not have to cop out by saying that space magic was behind the whole thing, especially not in a piece of non-canon DLC, for fear that they offend certain parties.

So, I very much hope that this “possession” is only figurative. That it’s referring to how a man can be consumed by wickedness rather than a magical artefact. Putting aside, for the moment, the potential continuity problem – namely that I don’t think Creed‘s Pieces of Eden can actually control their users (because that seems like quite a moronic design flaw) – having King Washington taken over by an alien magic ball just seems like a disappointingly stupid idea: one that raises the question as to whether whose tyranny the DLC is really about.

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