Assassin's Creed III from a native

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#1 Posted by Doom616 (17 posts) -

Assassin's creed 3 often gets bashed for it's slow start and very serious protagonist Connor Kenway. As a native american myself I see there is this stereotype of the stoic stone-faced "indians". There is some truth to this just like most stereotypes but obviously not all natives are like this. Connor's attitude and demeanor directly impacted by his life and heritage, Connor has absolutely no reason to connect with his white heritage because the colonials and British treat natives as lesser beings. It's hard to be a lovable rapscallion when your constantly persecuted. Also his attitude fits the character considering the decisions he has to make and the loss he endures.

The only good things in Connor's life come from his native heritage, he can't even use his real name. If Connor had any type of other attitude it would not be right, he has a right to be angry and act like a jerk(although sometimes his anger and impatience gets in the way of people trying to help him like Achilles). This guy has a huge chip on his shoulder and things just keep getting worse for him and his people. No matter what is done by the player the natives are doomed by the Americans or the British. The part where Connor learns that Washington plans to remove his people just hit it home that no matter what you do things are not going to work out.

When I first started Assassin's creed 3 when it came out it really bummed me out that you played as Haytham for such an extended period of time, and then going through yet another tutorial with Connor. There was just too much tedium in the early game that most people just quit and I can't blame them I did the same thing for a bout six months(I was able to go back and finish Revelations though). This really hurt the game because when you really get past the very lengthy tutorials it is a great game with a great story albeit depressing. I have to say it is a guilty pleasure using a tomahawk to kill redcoats and even later early Americans. The native weapons in this are just great, it's a shame there is no scalping. The developers has stated that scalping was too brutal, but considering the fact that i can stab someone in the face pause for effect then stab them one more time for good measure kinda invalidates that argument for me. Nothing beats the knife and tomahawk for me in any assassin's game but I may be a bit biased.

In my opinion nothing about native Americans does really well considering how in the minority we are but I don't think that is the reason for the low opinion of Assassin's creed 3. Having two tutorials and a very slow burn of a story, not to mention the no fun attitude(rightly so) of the hero really hurt the game. I forgot to mention the new family Connor starts at the farm with achilles. I loved this aspect of the game to at least give Connor something since his whole life he is just losing everything. Achilles dying a natural death at the end and everyone gathered around was a nice epilogue considering how everyone else was taken from Connor. Also the end scene with Connor standing at the docks and smiling at the British ships departed back for Britain seemed like a happy ending until he looks over and sees a man selling slaves, I feel this is a perfect way to end it. The entire game you are working to make things better but you never seem to come out on top. I think this scene depicted Connors plight well, It never ends.

Notice I did not mention anything about desmond or ancient aliens that's because I don't really care and have never cared about desmond. Just my opinion. It would also be interesting how man other native have played this and their opinions.

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#2 Posted by joshwent (2897 posts) -

@doom616 Thanks for sharing your perspective! I've yet to play AC III (which I hope to rectify soon thanks to the crazy Ubi sale on Steam right now), but it always seemed like people's criticism of Connor's character was more that he was just less jokey fun guy than young Ezio, rather than his own character not holding up.

Also, welcome to (posting on) Giant Bomb!

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#3 Posted by LiquidPrince (16829 posts) -

I never understood the hate for the intro of this game and the fact that people keep calling it a long tutorial... Just because you're not playing as Connor for the first few hours doesn't mean that Haytham;'s story was some sort of extended tutorial. It was a good way to introduce and build the characters with a solid twist at the end. I actually loved Connor's story and thought it was pretty badass.

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#4 Posted by viking_funeral (2504 posts) -

Congratulations on your first post.

This is only tangentially related, but I had a Native American roommate in university. The guy was amazing at Street Fighter EX. Just amazing.

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#5 Edited by Oldirtybearon (5626 posts) -

Being a Native myself I wondered if my appreciation for Connor's particular story was biased due to our shared heritage. I'd like to think it wasn't since he is a well written character with an arc. Maybe I am biased, though. Hard to tell.

In any event, I really liked him. He had a strong character arc and a fulfilling revenge tale that didn't settle on "they lived happily ever after". Connor's revenge is complete by the end of the game but there is still a sense of melancholy because he can never go home. The world will keep changing and the worst his people will endure has yet to come. Maybe this melancholy, or this futility, is what people disapproved of. In any event, I really liked the game, and it was nice to see a character that looked like me and, ultimately, was not a caricature of Native/Indian stereotypes.

Funny how Ubisoft is good at that.

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#6 Edited by Brodehouse (10827 posts) -

I don't think I had any problem with the depiction of anyone in that game. I thought a lot of people were boring. It almost felt like at times that they had done so much research that they wanted to show you that they forgot they had to be absorbing. People just start talking and never stop. This is the second AC they've made where the protagonist has basically no sense of humor whatsoever, and I disliked it about as much as I did in the first game.

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#7 Posted by Humanity (15586 posts) -

@doom616: my problem was that I don't think they really address the race issue in the game. There's barely any sort of belittling from anyone. If anything most people you meet greet Connor with open arms and sing praise about his abilities. I would be able to better connect with his dour attitude were I actually subjected to some sort of racism throughout the game. As is, no one really seemed to care much about what color skin Connor was.

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#8 Posted by CornBREDX (7170 posts) -

My problems with the game aren't so much Connor as it is the game itself is a broken, tedious, boring, mess.

I'm fine with the character they went with for Connor, although it's never made impactful that I saw. It should be more meaningful that he is native American but no one really seems to ever care.

I guess it would both be difficult and maybe controversial to handle a topic like that but it would have made the character more endearing.

But, again, I didn't have a problem with Connor. They really didn't do much of anything with him worth writing about in general. He's an uninteresting character and I think that's what bothers people more than anything after AC2- which had a very aloof and charismatic character people could instantly enjoy playing.

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#9 Posted by mrcool11 (526 posts) -

I really only played AC3 to see how they chose to represent a Mohawk character. I'm not Mohawk, but Cree from Canada, and other than Prey (which I picked up within the last year or so for the same reason) I'd never had the opportunity to play as a Native character in a game. I actually thought that Connor's mother is a much better character than he was, seeing as how she subverts all of Haytham's/the audience's expectations of what a Native character is supposed to be, whereas Connor is yet another stoic warrior, even if he is more fleshed out than most other incarnations of that kind of character.

Much like Prey, though, Assassin's Creed sets up its science fiction so that the spirituality of the protagonist's nation (Cherokee in Prey, Mohawk in AC3) is premised on ancient contact with aliens. Not only does it imply that indigenous peoples are incapable of developing systems of understanding the world on their own, but that their knowledge was based on a profound misunderstanding of a advanced civilization. Kind of a nitpicky thing, but it bothers me anyway.

There's an encounter with a couple NPCs early on in the game where one explains to the other what an indigenous nation is, and how that differs from commonly held notions of "tribes". It was super bizarre and the guys ended up duking it out, and I think that has got to be the most memorable part of the game for me.

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#10 Posted by Doom616 (17 posts) -

@cornbredx: I think it makes sense that no one cares, these people are treated like stray dogs. The indigenous people are just in the way and need to be moved. Also I think the focus is largely on the revolution and the templars, leaving Connor and his plight largely forgotten. I also had this problem with ac2, brotherhood, and revelations. I tend to forget Ezio's story and focus on what else is going on maybe it's just me.

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