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Date published: 10/31/2012
McLEAN--Wars and video games seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. But those games usually involve tanks and machine guns and Tet offensives, not horses, bayonets and Bunker Hill.
Now, though, one of the biggest game releases of the upcoming holiday season is immersing players in the Revolutionary War, with key cameos from George Washington, Ben Franklin and other Founding Fathers.
"Assassin's Creed III" was due for release Tuesday. In some ways, the game is meticulous with historical accuracy. Great attention was paid to research to recreate the cities of New York and Boston on a one-third scale. History professors were brought in as consultants.
In other ways, the game takes liberties with history. It integrates the Revolutionary War into the overarching story of "Assassin's Creed," in which the secret society of the Knights Templar fills the role as the game's overarching villain.
Game creators were reluctant to reveal too many details in advance of the game's release. Review copies were not available in advance.
The game's creative director, Alex Hutchinson, said the ability to explore a historical era that has been largely left untouched by the gaming world was one of the most exciting aspects of the project.
As for Washington himself, Hutchinson said he wanted the game to portray the fact that for the man who would become the nation's first president, it was far from certain that America would win the war.
"He wasn't sure he was going to win," Hutchinson said. "When you read their letters, they were very uncertain for much of their time" how the war would turn out.
Francois Furstenberg, a history professor at the University of Montreal who has written about the iconography that surrounds Washington, served as a consultant and said he was interested less in making sure names and dates were perfect than in the game's overarching narrative. He said the game's creators shared his desire to depict the war in a nuanced way that avoided portraying one side as the good guys and vice versa.
"Anything that complicates the narrative is a good thing," he said. "If anything I think they were more interested in sort of a muckraking account" of the revolution, something that agreed with Furstenberg.