We Should Be Proud (spoilers)
Asssassin's Creed is the bravest goddamn game series in a long, long time. You play as a Muslim dude killing knights in the holy land, an Italian dude killing corrupt Catholics (and chilling with people of all cultures in Istanbul), and a conflicted Kanien'kehaka (or something close to that) dude figuring out how to protect himself, his people, and his ideals when all the white mother fuckers just want his land and his killing arm. Desmond goes from a slacker bartender to a creepy killer/ enslaver of the world.
Does it have crappy moments? Yeah. Does it waste some potential? Yeah. But what is there is storytelling that deals directly with race, religion, murder, colonialism, sexism and more heady, important issues in often the most mature fashion seen in any media. There's a completely small but great mission where you talk to Miriam, a hard ass hunter lady, about how she won't become a useless, powerless housewife after marriage. It's a great goddamn series purely for this bravery and willingness to confront players about history and what it could mean.
None of that would mean shit if the game were bad, but it is not. The stealth is still fun. The naval missions, frontier, homestead creation, and revolutionary war fighting (load those muskets) at times approach real wonder. Desmond's treks into the world are disturbing and difficult without the animus cheats (both of awareness and morality), as they should be.
Assassin's Creed 3 is edutainment of the highest order. Even if it didn't manage to look at contradictions in moralism from all sides in its storytelling, its game world tells the story of America better than any book. Here are two cities, still relatively small, still filled with fields and farmers and accents of all sorts. There is no collective America. And, just outside these cities, is wilderness. Animals roam. Trees flourish. On the seas, ships play elaborate and exploding stratego with each other across gorgeous expanses. Early America was conflicted, complicated, an odd mixture of ideals and practicalities, and simply running through the world (even if you don't read the well-written historical accounts that include primary source newspaper writing) reveals the nature of my young country.
Game players often lambast boring games or expected games, but when something truly revolutionary in its storytelling and possessing utter respect for the player's intelligence comes around, we look for holes. There are holes. They don't matter. Assassin's Creed 3 is a great game.