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From the moment Ezio Auditore's uncle bellowed 'Ezio! It'sa me - Mario!' in his Italian baritone in Assassin's Creed II it was destined that the historical stealth series would eventually arrive on a Nintendo console
And no, we don't mean those flimsy excuses for the franchise on DS. White hoods and hidden blades alone do not an Assassin's title make. They certainly help, but looking beyond the chiselled jawlines this is an open world so rich in history and grand in scale that a console is the only way to experience its sandbox of magic. And Assassin's Creed III on Wii U will do nicely thank you.
It's surprising that it's taken this long for the series to land on a Nintendo console. Although on the surface this looks like a stealthy stabathon that doesn't need much of a story other than 'You! Poke him with your pointy wrist thing', Assassin's Creed is driven by a narrative of baffling scale. From ancient first civilisations and the seriously evil Knights of the Templar, to a machine that lets you replay the memories of your genetic ancestors, AC is frankly barmy, and fits into Nintendo's world like a certain foot into a glass slipper.
And that's before we even mention the free-running, the ancient artefacts that can enslave minds and an enormous evil science corporation with more than its fair share of dirty laundry. Yet of all the places to start, is the fifth console title really the best place for Nintendo gamers to join the saga? Should we even care about new character Connor and his role in the American Revolution? The answer is happily a world of yes.
First off, the American Revolution is a fascinating setting for the first proper open-world sandbox on a Nintendo platform. The latter half of the 18th Century was filled with years of bloodshed as America was born as a nation. "The American Revolution is a key historical event for the world, not just for America," explains creative director of Assassin's Creed III, Ubisoft's Alex Hutchinson. "For Britain, the old joke was that the Revolution was a civil war fought on foreign soil. For Americans, obviously it's the founding of their nation, and for the rest of the world it's the beginning of events that created the dominant super power of the last hundred years."
The Revolutionary War was long and deadly, with troops on both sides freezing in bitter winters as they battled with sub-standard weaponry. As a historical setting, the War is relatively untouched by both games and movies - unless we count The Patriot, and the less we say about that, the better. "The interesting thing for us too is that the story we are telling is Assassins vs Templars," explains Hutchinson, "You aren't fighting for the Americans, you're killing Templars."
But who is the leading man in the midst of all of this? Connor, or Ratohnhaké:ton of the Mohawk Tribe, is the third historical Assassin to have his memories revisited within the series. Anancestor of 21st Century Assassin Desmond Miles, Connor's life can be replayed using the Animus, a machine that enables genetic memories to be viewed and explored in three dimensions. (See the 'Assassin's Creed 101' box (right) for a quick beginner's guide to the series.) If dinosaurs can be bred from the DNA found inside mosquitoes then of course DNA has a memory...
The successor to AC's Altair Ibn-La'Ahad and ACII's Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, Connor is born of British and Native American parents and finds himself embroiled in the tumultuous American Revolution. "With Connor we wanted to create a new and unique hero who was clearly different from previous Assassins, and hopefully from most other videogame protagonists," explains Hutchinson, "While Altair was driven by duty and Ezio by revenge, Connor is a man driven by a strong desire to do what's right. He fights injustice wherever he sees it. Whether it's the oppression of his people, the British rule of the colonists or the threat of the Templars."
Connor's Native American background means that his combat is entirely unique for some red coat slaughter. Aside from the iconic retractable hidden blade worn by all Assassins, he's accessorised his uniform with more traditional tools from his heritage. A bow and a tomahawk are just two of the weapons that are used by Assassin's Creed III's new combat system. Weaponry is now dual-wield where previously combat was dependent on primary and secondary weapons. This upgraded mechanic allows for both tools to be used simultaneously in a free-flowing bout of carnage.
"Rebuilding the combat system allowed us to bring in new weapons like the bow, and try to make it more fluid than ever," explains Hutchinson, "Connor can perform what we call running assassinations, where he can assassinate people in full sprint without losing speed."