Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Genre Character of the Week: Desmond Miles

Having finished Shadow of the Colossus over the Easter long weekend, I moved on to my next PS3 game, Assassin’s Creed II. Like the Uncharted series, I am way behind on the current games, but at the same time I’ve never paid more than $20 for a game so there you go.

Assassin’s Creed II is actually kind of clever in that it both picks up immediately where the first one left off and also takes place 260 years later. The reason for this is the protagonist, and this week’s genre character: Desmond Miles.

Desmond is basically used as part of the framing story for both games (there are three more games in the series that I haven’t played – not including games for the PSP and Nintendo DS), but from the little I’ve seen of him in the games, he comes across as a pretty decent guy.

Working as a bartender at the beginning of the first game (which could be modern day or near-future, there really isn’t enough info to tell), Desmond is captured by people working for a company called Abstegro. Here he is locked in a laboratory/dorm room and forced to help two doctors by entering a machine called the ANIMUS, which allows him to re-live the life of one of his ancestors, Altaïr ibn-La'Ahad, an assassin who lived in the middle east during the 1190s A.D. Desmond spends the first game entering and exiting the ANIMUS and trying to find a way to escape from his capture. In the end (mild spoiler) he gains an ability from his time as Altaïr, and with it he discovers writing all over the walls of his prison in strange and cryptic writings.

In the second game (which, again I have only played for a few days), one of the doctors helps (again, mild spoiler) Desmond escape and together they join some sort of small group who are willing to help Desmond train to be an assassin in his own right, by entering the ANIMUS 2.0 and following the training of another ancestor who lived in Florence during the Italian Renaissance, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, Desmond begins to learn the skills of the Assassin himself.

What I like about Desmond is that he acts like a normal guy in an extraordinary situation, trying his best to learn all he can about his captors and then working to better himself in an effort to fight back. I’ll fully admit I’m a sucker for characters who are willing to do hard work and try to better themselves in any way, so Desmond was pretty much a shoe-in for me right from the start.

If you haven’t tried any of the games before, I recommend starting with the first one – the narrative does flow from one to the other and abilities gain in the first one follow through into the second. So far, I’m having a lot of fun with this series.

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