Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Assassin's Creed 3 Recap, Part 5: Desmond

For Desmond, the adventure starts right where we left him in "Revelations": in the back of a truck at their final destination. I honestly can't tell you how he knew where to go, but obivously he did, and conveniently, the cave was located in North America, only an hour's drive away. With the apple, we open the cave (which has some graffiti on it, nice touch) and find a temple (?) of the Precursors. Before we can start, the game forces us to do an ugly tutorial in the Animus' engine. It's not skippable, but thanks, I really wanted to know how to walk in the game. Unfortunately, they switched some controls from "Revelations", which upsets muscle memory. In the cave itself, we find some sort of console for which we need to find certain keys and are encouraged to explore. Said exploration is finished quickly, however, since there's not much to do, and the game kickstarts the Haytham-sequence (see part one of the recap), another extended tutorial. 

Yay, Tutorial!

After completing Connor's training, we find ourselves in Desmond's body again and have to infiltrate a templar's hideout in a skyscraper. The action sequence feels a bit arbitrary, and after some climbing we reach the key and meet Alex Cross, an Assassin traitor. I can't really place him, I have to admit. Was he the guy we met in the Animus in "Revelations", or the one that left messages in the Abstergo offices in the first game? Not sure. Anyway, we flee the scene, and somehow the mighty templars can't follow us to the cave. In the cave, the key opens up a new area, where we have to solve a jump'n'run-riddle, suffering through hallucinations of Juno, telling us stuff about how the apocalypse loomed and they tried to stall it with several inventions that didn't work. It's a bit mysterious and adds epicness, but it's not that impressive overall. Back to Connor.  Next time we get to Desmond, the others have found out the location of the next key. We have to infiltrate a stadium to get to a VIP lounge and take the key. However, a templar murderer was there before us, so we have to chase him.
Desmond nearly as secret as Connor.
This is the only sequence in which you get a bit of a challenge as Desmond, who still has no health and can't die, technically. The guards use the same animations to fire their pistols as the British soldiers. What works for a 18th century gun, however, looks utterly ridiculous for a semi-automatic pistol. Anyway, we get the next key, more babbling from Juno (which doesn`t really seem to serve any point) and continue on with Connor. Then, to the last key: we have to infiltrate Abstergo itself, the place where the whole story began. What should feel satisfactory - after all, we finally kill Vidic and Alex Cross - comes off as just a power trip. Desmond can't die, and the locations are very small. The sequence in which we have to chase and kill a terrified Alex Cross is ridiculous, since Cross runs around in the same closed hall without any chance to escape. You could make coffee, and he wouldn't get anywhere in the meantime, so chasing him is just tedious. Same is true for the guards. They fall in droves before us, without any chance. After finally killing Vidic (he had abducted our father, yawn) we get the apple of Eden and kill literally everyone we encounter without any resistance. 
Assassin, my ass. This is the Incredible Hulk.
Finally, we can unlock all the mysteries. The last key opens a passage, and we get an extended cutscene in which Juno lures us into freeing her to prevent the apocalypse. Just before Desmond does this (and it's clear that Juno's motives are fishy, because she comes off as all evil in voice and syntax), Minerva pops out of nowhere and tries to prevent it. She tells us that there are two possibilities: either we let the apocalypse happen and are the seed of a new civilization, reverred and honored (we even get a nice picture of a Desmond statue in the sprawling nature), basically reliving the fate of the Precurors, or we let Juno take possession of Desmond's body, prevent the apocalypse and ruling manking from there on. It's interesting that both choices equally suck, and to choose which one isn't really a nice thing. It's somewhat curious that the templars never bothered with the question, and that we didn't try to tell them about the impending apocalypse at some point, you know, working together to prevent the downfall of humanity, but the Desmond-story doesn't make that much sense anyway.

Pictured: shiny objects
Of course, the game doesn't allow us the choice ourselves, instead letting Desmond go for it, who obviously chooses Juno (how could we do additional games otherwise, in which we have to break her influence?). And with this note, Desmons walks into the screen, which fades to the credits. Overall, Desmond's story proves to continue in being the weak link. For the first time, he gets something real to in this game, but it lacks any excitement whatsoever and is more a tedious exercise than anything else. Desmond, I feel, would have been more interesting had he not magically acquired Assassin powers in "Assassin's Creed 2" and stayed the somewhat cow-eyed guy who stumbled into the mess and is now used to relive the memories of his much cooler ancestors. But of course, that was before we got Connor as a character, who's about as interesting and engaging as a bar of soap, so I guess Desmond's redeemed a bit.


  1. "I honestly can't tell you how he knew where to go..."

    I honestly can't believe I have followed the fiction well enough to be able to tell you...

    At the end of the "Da Vinci Disappearance" DLC for Brotherhood, Ezio and Leonardo find themselves in some sort of OWCB room that gives Ezio (and by extension Desmond) a set of coordinates for a location in New York state.

    1. Thanks. I fear I never played the DLC.