Inglourious Basterds: The Tyranny of King Washington Impressions

Several years before Ubisoft announced its American Revolution-set sequel, a hidden puzzle in Assassin’s Creed II depicted George Washington holding one of the game’s most power artifacts–an Apple of Eden. With the first episode of Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington, it looks like this little easter egg is finally going to pay off in a big, weird, and kind of uncomfortable way.

If the original Assassin’s Creed III set up a surprisingly nuanced world of social and moral ambiguity, The Tyranny of King Washington gleefully deconstructs it, dashing out the color and life of the original game with a bleak color palette peppered with the occasional blood splatter. In King Washington, Assassin’s Creed forgoes all pretense of historical accuracy, and pulls a page from Quentin Tarantino’s playbook. King Washington is not just an exercise in historical speculation, it is a gratuitous, historical revenge fantasy.

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Review: The Walking Dead

This was originally published on P as in Pterodactyl, May 7th, 2012.

I’ve only read the first few issues of Robert Kirkman’s original comic books, but I have a strange fascination with the television incarnation of The Walking Dead. It’s a bit like watching a train wreck; I just can’t wrap my head around how a show can be as beautifully shot as it is and, you know, about zombies, but still be as mirthless and relentlessly terrible as it continues to be. And it is a terrible show to be sure—what with its nonexistent characters and conflicts in what is purported to be an ensemble drama. Even so, I schedule time every Sunday to catch a new episode. Partially it’s that strange fascination with how the show continues to drown in its own mythology (or lack thereof) that brings me back, but I also return to The Walking Dead week after week with a little hope that maybe this week will finally click. Maybe—just maybe—the next episode will finally get it and dig the series out of its hole. It is with this mindset that I enter TellTale Games’ The Walking Dead, an episodic adventure game based on the same source material. The first episode is currently available for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC with the promise of four subsequent episodes over as many months. (I’ll be playing the series on my MacBook). The game, like the show, looks beautiful with a compelling, comic book-esque aesthetic that is anchored by fantastic facial animations. Also like the show, the game features a lot of talking–not all of it necessary. The real test of quality, then, becomes whether or not the rest of its components—especially the writing and core mechanics—can measure up to its slick art direction.

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