I've picked so many locks in so many video games. In sewers beneath medieval castles, in cyberpunk prisons, in futuristic alleyways and warehouses, in banks and embassies and spaceships. I've seen so many video game lockpicking minigames I could spit.

I've balanced tumblers and teased open locks.

I've broken thousands of precious lockpicks, which are often difficult to replace.

I thought I'd seen every kind of lock the virtual world could throw at me. And so when I fired up Assassin's Creed III and quickly found myself faced with yet another type of lockpicking minigame, I immediately blanched. Really? Yet another video game developer wants to take a shot at this?


And yet... I've found that I love picking locks in Assassin's Creed III. Connor isn't the most sophisticated lockpicker around, but that's actually what makes it great. Check it out:

That's me picking a lock in New York. (And of course, note the bizarre, looping audio in the background). Picking locks in ACIII works in three stages. First you turn your left thumbstick to find the tension angle until it clicks, then you twist the right thumbstick until the raking angle clicks. Crucially, you have to hold the left thumbstick in place while you turn the right one.

It takes me a little while to pick this one—some of the chests take a long time. That's actually also an important part of why it's fun. You have to hold your thumbs in weird positions while feeling out the angles of the lock.


Now here's the most important part, the coup de grace: Once you've got your tension and raking angles in place, you hold both thumbsticks steady and jam the right trigger until Connor breaks the lock. It's awesome.

I never knew how physically satisfying lockpicking could feel on a video game controller, but I love this. Compared to the average finicky lockpicking game, where you usually have to feather the thumbstick carefully and, say, press the A button at the exact right moment, Assassin's Creed III's lockpicking is a terrific amalgamation of careful dexterity and brute force.

All this time, I guess I just wanted to have the opportunity to obliterate every video game lock I come across. Who knew?