Posted by Marianne Miller on Jan 28, 2013

Why People Should Stop Whining About Assassins Creed’s Endings

It should go without saying, but this article contains a ridiculous amount of spoilers for all endings of Assassin’s Creed, hence why I waited to write it.

Assassin’s Creed 3 was a mess.  It’s no secret that I think so, and I know I’m not the only one who does.  The game was ridiculously buggy, so much so that the team released a statement announcing the fact that the PC version would be “less buggy” than the console version.  Being a console gamer, I didn’t take kindly to the fact that I was being used as a beta tester for PC players.

Assassin’s Creed 3 also suffered from a weak story and protagonist, and as eager as I am to give credit to Ubisoft for the fact that most main characters in the Assassin’s Creed franchise have been ethnically in the minority for most game protagonists (with Altair being Arabic, Ezio being pure-blooded Italian, Connor being the rarely-represented Native American and Aveline being half black/white), Connor was a weak, childish character at best.  His British father, Haytham, was a much better alternative for a protagonist.  His tongue-in-cheek dialog matched with his excellent voice acting made the character that much more charismatic and interesting than his son, who was prone to temper tantrums.  The game, rather than building to a climax with the Assassin Connor and his Templar father, opted instead to build up to the murder of a character that had no actual involvement with his mother’s death, which was the reason for his blind rage and motivation for helping the White Americans pull away from the British.

But one thing I don’t agree with most gamers (and never have) is the fact that Assassin’s Creed 3 (or any Assassin’s Creed game, for that matter) had a weak ending.

Each Assassin’s Creed has had an outcry over the cocktease that was each ending, and I can understand the initial negative reflex to each cliffhanger, but it’s been obvious since the beginning that there was no clean or satisfying ending to the modern day storyline with Desmond.  People who claimed to be blindsided by the “alien” involvement at the end of 2 were obviously not paying attention to the ending of AC1, when the Piece of Eden showed technological capabilities beyond anything possible in the 12th century.  The idea of “aliens” was an idea that I had, but I never thought they’d be ballsy enough to go through with it.  I was pleased, and, quite frankly, amused to see an alternate explanation to modern religion, with the Garden of Eden being a manmade structure, and human beings created in the likeness of “Godlike” creatures who only needed mindless slaves. The Pieces of Eden were used to control us until we gained enough self-awareness to break away from it and rebel against our captors (or until the planet was wiped out by a solar flare, I’m a little unclear on what happened).

What made Assassin’s Creed 3’s ending so great was the fact that it was finally giving an answer to the grey area that it had established since the first game.  Altair initially began to question Al Mualim’s leadership once he had those “death monologue” interactions with his targets, where they explained their side of the story.  What looked to be a slave trade turned out to actually be an effort to put criminals to work.  A man who kept people prisoner within a hospital was actually trying to keep the mentally ill safe from those who would stone them on the street.  The man who poisoned an entire courtyard of invited guests was only reacting to those who wanted him dead or refused to accept him for being homosexual.

This grey area was a critical part of the first game, and a huge reason as to why the writing is the best the series has ever seen since.  I was ecstatic when Assassin’s Creed 3 brought it back – Connor was having similar deathbed conversations with his targets, and having doubts just like Altair.  But the pinnacle was reached when he came to a realization brought on by his father.  The fact that the attack on his village, which he thought for all these years had been carried out by Charles Lee – a Templar – had actually been ordered by George Washington, who he had been helping since the beginning.

At this point, Connor has been teaming up with his Templar father for a sequence or two, and the two have been working towards a common goal.  Of course, once Haytham reveals to Connor that George Washington is the cause of his woes, not Haytham’s assistant Charles Lee, Connor throws a tantrum and runs away.

Shortly after, Connor kills his father and continues to chase after Lee, and after the worst chase sequence in history, Connor follows Lee into a bar, where the two share a manly moment before Connor stabs Lee and leaves him to die at a bar table.

In the present day, Desmond enters the locked chamber that he and his cohorts have been trying to access, where he learns that his only options are to allow the catastrophic event that will wipe out most of the human race to happen, or to enlist the help of a crazed woman who lost her husband in a similar event back when the “Garden of Eden” was still a thing, who may just enslave the human race once again.

Desmond sides with the crazy woman to save as many humans as he can, and his life is sacrificed to seal the deal.  As he lies, lifeless on the ground, the credits roll and players are left to wonder what the fuck just happened.

Like everyone else, I was pretty infuriated.  But after I gave myself a moment to think about it, I was pretty amused.  Like the “aliens”, this ending was foreshadowed by the very first game.

Want to know what was so obvious about it?

All right.

The fact is that Templars, Assassins… there was no right side.  The game was misdirecting its players by trying to make them decide which side was right and which was wrong when the fact is, the Assassins and the Templars were both as bad as the other because they both were too focused on the bullshit disagreements they had, rather than the fact that members of the First Civilization were trying to contact them to warn them about the horrible event that would befall and kill all of them.  Hilariously, Minerva (the not-crazy woman) tells Desmond this, and says that our petty bickering as a race made us run out of time.  Most of us were too busy looking for a plot twist or a “right” or “wrong” answer that this slipped over our heads.

It’s a lesson I’ve come to take to heart – I’ve started focusing less on the lip-service I can pay an idea (especially a political one) and more on the actions I can take to further or help whatever it is that I believe in.  Volunteering, writing to raise awareness, and researching valid counterarguments are all way more productive than arguing on Facebook or Twitter.  And I find that my life is a lot less stressful because of it.

And similarly, rather than taking to the internet to bitch endlessly about an ending that I really should have seen coming, I choose to laugh at it and understand the message as best I can.  And while there are definitely things that I think were done poorly – like Desmond’s death being the result of a creative director far too eager to get rid of his protagonist for stupid, uninformed reasons – I believe that overall, the present-day story was told in a way that Patrice Delisets intended for it to be, and that that story was worthwhile to see play out.

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