Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Jump off a Cliff, See if I Care

This post deals with making characters likeable and interesting. I have been recently playing Assassin's Creed III, which has brought this question sharply to mind with Connor Kenway. Though he has a wonderfully interesting backstory and cool skills, I still don't really like him as much as Desmond, Ezio or even Haytham Kenway, his (SPOILERS) evil templar dad. So why is this, I wonder. I guess to find the answer I had better pick apart the characters.

First, Desmond. He is an unwilling and unlikely hero, to begin with useless at being an assassin. He is captured by the templars and stuck in the Animus, a device which allows him to relive the memories of his ancestors. He finds what they want before escaping with Lucy, who brings him to a small group of assassins. Then he relives the memories of Ezio Auditore, in order to recieve Ezio's skills. Now, why is he interesting. For one thing, his reactions are something we can all relate to. We believe we would react the same way in his situation. We have also had four games to 'bond' with him. It helps as well that his story compelling.

Now, Ezio. Ezio Auditore da Firenze loses his father and brothers when he is a teenager, and he and his mother and sister run to the small village of Monterregione. His story is one first of revenge towards the ones who killed his family, then a struggle against the Borgia family. We can relate to Ezio because he is also human; though he has an innate goodness and nobility and later wisdom (plus assassin skills), he also has the very human desires for love and revenge.

Haytham Kenway is an example of a character I probably shouldn't like, but I do. Is it his english accent, his quickness to come up with a plan, or his self-assured manner? Maybe it is a combination of the three. He seems gentle and understanding, dealing with the captured Native American woman as he frees her brethren. He is patient, waiting several months before again meeting with the Native Americans. And he shows a dislike for undue conflict, preferring a well thought out plan.

So, why doesn't Connor measure up to any of these? He is the most fully developed character in the game, with the circumstances of his birth explained fully, and his training lasting a very long time. He doesn't have an objectionable personality, apart from the occasional bad judgements and a slight arrogance and unwillingness to see people as anything but evil. But perhaps it is these last traits which make him unlikeable. It is, it seems, the Harry Potter effect. These are the traits which Mr Potter displays most prominently, and consequently turn him into a character which I can't really relate to. The stubborness of his disposition mean that character development is really out of the question (if AC characters develop), and makes him seem a bit flat. I know such people exist, but they make me cringe.

Maybe it's just me, but now that I look at it, Harry seems far too perfect. Just look at some people's character traits lists: brave, hard working, kind, caring, clever, independent, optimistic, humble, loyal, giving, self sacrificing, loving, smart, etc. Perhaps J.K. killed her character with kindness. He has faults, but they're faults which make me cringe, and in everything else he's bloody perfect.

I need to know if it's just me! And please, don't shoot me, I'm a huge fan of HP too. I don't mind Harry at all, I'm just indifferent to him. Sayonara!

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