Acclaimed early-20th century writer Gertrude Stein once said, “This is the lesson that history teaches: repetition.” I say Gertrude Stein must’ve been an Assassin’s Creed fan, because Ubisoft’s award-winning action-adventure pseudo-stealth series has, over the years, made great use of repetition through history to intertwine the lives of its titular assassins.
Assassin’s Creed has built its entire story on the back of repetitious elements in the lives of successive assassin generations, recreated through the magic of technology and experienced by chosen one modern-day assassin Desmond Miles. Events that transpire in Desmond’s life reflect others borne by his 12th century Syrian ancestor Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, and 15th century Italian forbearer Ezio Auditore da Firenze.
While each of the three assassins’ lives is unique, certain elements reoccur in each of their stories to emphasize their cyclical connection. The lip scar shared by Altair, Ezio and Desmond is a nice visual of that idea, and from a design perspective, the fact that they share the same face makes this association about as subtle as a sledgehammer through a china cabinet.
One such element deals with loss, guilt, and second chances in regard to romantic love, and is represented in an enduring pattern throughout the series: each assassin falls desperately in love with a woman, is peripherally responsible for her death, and is wracked with guilt over his involvement until years later, when he meets the woman that will become his wife.
So I beat Bioshock Infinite a couple weeks back, and I will say without a doubt that its one of the best games I’ve played in a long time. The gameplay is fun and multi-faceted, the environments are gorgeous, and the characters work double-time to weasel their way into your heart. I was a little sad that the gameplay was simplified from the 15-minute trailer released in 2011, but that complaint is ultimately small potatoes. The game strikes a good balance between world-building, a compelling storyline, character development, and dynamic gameplay, so even when one element shine brighter than the others, no one ever feels outpaced. Plus, as we have come to expect from Bioshock, there’s a big damn twist in there that will blow your freaking mind.
Another hallmark of the Bioshock series that Infinite loyally incorporates is a bold examination of complex philosophical concepts. The original Bioshock tackled, among other things, economic oppression, fascism, isolationism, Randian theory, and free will, all without skirting or tidying them up. Bioshock 2, arguably the weakest of the series, has something to say about collectivism and social responsibility (not as ambitious or controversial, but eh). BioshockInfinite follows in the footsteps of its predecessors with gusto, tackling religious and political fanaticism, American exceptionalism, political deification, racism, and social stratification. It also talks about a concept that humanity has been mulling over for millennia: redemption.