Wednesday, on the United States' 236th Independence Day, Ubisoft sent around the newest trailer for October's fervently-awaited "Assassin's Creed 3."
The trailer, titled "Rise," (watch it below) is 95 percent live-action scenes that will not appear in the game, but is nonetheless a powerful and well-crafted appetizer to keep the aura of the game alive in the minds of gamers a full business quarter before its release.
I have to respectfully disagree with a couple industry writers and commentators who thought the trailer was "terrible," tapping into "good old Tea Party-style American nationalism" and (this is the best one) "jingoistic bull****apocalypse."
Their first point of contention, I must concede, is usually valid. Game trailers that are almost all live-action or even in-game cinematics are often evidence that the real product isn't so spectacular.
However, we know that's not the case with "Assassin's Creed 3." The series' pedigree, the gameplay footage already released and the track record of the team making it points to nothing less than top class in-game action.
Cinema-style trailers are nothing new, and for AAA games, they're a necessary and innocuous complement to the marketing barrage that comes with the territory. It's not as if this is the only clip with which Ubisoft is planning to market the game.
The real problem I have is the accusation that the trailer "takes itself too seriously," and that it somehow is inappropriate to invoke the viewpoint of rebellious Americans in the midst of a violent war.
The point of a clip like this is to create atmosphere, add context and most importantly get you excited to eventually play the game. To achieve the level of atmosphere and hooking the prospective buyer into the world, why wouldn't you address the Revolutionary War in a serious manner? Is it somehow "cooler" to maintain a slick, ironic distance from something that was life or death to our forebears?
Furthermore, how can you accuse a game of wrongly including "Tea Party-style" sentiments when, you know, the actual Boston Tea Party had taken place just prior to the game's timeline?
My personal politics are nowhere near those of the modern day Tea Party, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying "pro-America" films like "Top Gun," "Black Hawk Down" and this trailer.
As a side note, I almost included "The Patriot" in that list, but then I remember it ends with Mel Gibson stabbing the British general with the American flag. Yikes.
Anyway, I'll admit the characters in the "Assassin's Creed 3" trailer speak from a viewpoint that few Americans probably could articulate in the midst of the revolution.
The black-and-white teaching of the time period is one that grossly oversimplifies the nuance on both sides. Plenty of Americans were ambivalent about British rule, while most Britons in fact were fine with the Thirteen Colonies breaking off.
Yet, we have no idea what the Americans who lived in 1776 were going through. The stakes of rebellion are something we have no place to speak about. We don't just have first world problems, we have 21st century problems.
1776 was a serious year in our history. "Assassin's Creed 3" is trying in earnest, at least through the "Rise" clip, to evoke emotions that connect with that seriousness. There is nothing ironic, detached or cynical about it.
Perhaps it's raw and one-sided, but Ubisoft isn't trying to take a political stand or educate gamers on history. They're trying to sell a piece of art and entertainment. The bottom line is, I'm more excited to play the game after watching it than before. In my book, that makes it a good trailer.