Assassin’s Creed III
Set during the American Revolution, the latest installment of the Assassin’s Creed series merges sci-fi and history in winning ways. Yes, it is violent and fanciful (a centuries-long war is going on between the Templars and the Assassins, and the fate of the planet hangs in the balance). But it doubles as a surprisingly good time machine, with marvelously accurate depictions of key people, places and events that bring them to vivid, interactive life.
The plot: To stop the Templars, Desmond Miles, one of the Assassins, must relive the exploits of two of his direct ancestors in 18th-century America—a British nobleman who makes the Atlantic crossing to Boston in 1754, and a member of the Mohawk tribe. Their stories take you to 1783, letting you experience the Revolution’s high points firsthand. Playing the game means participating in the Boston Massacre, the Tea Party, Paul Revere’s ride, Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, several naval battles off the coast of New York and more. It also means exploring painstakingly rendered historic sites like Faneuil Hall, and interacting with artisans, farmers, militiamen and soldiers, even feeding the pigs and dogs that roam Boston’s streets. You learn the complex process of loading and firing a musket, and bury a hatchet in a fleeing redcoat’s back. You see close-up what life during the Revolution was really like.
Serious gamers want a convincing story and believable characters, and merging fact with fiction this skillfully allows them to participate in history in ways no textbook can. The spellbinding graphics, excellent voice-acting and remarkable attention to genuine detail fire their enthusiasm for learning. The next step is to encourage gamers to venture beyond their consoles for more.