Popular video game publisher Ubisoft takes pride in the historical accuracy included in its hit franchise "Assassin’s Creed," with players assuming the roles of characters in such periods as the Italian Renaissance or the American Revolution. For its recently announced next chapter in the series, "Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag," 18th-century piracy is the objective, with plundering, high seas engagements, and hunting via land and sea all present. 

It's the latter that has PETA upset, since the game will equip players with the ability to realistically harpoon whales. 

"Whaling — that is, shooting whales with harpoons and leaving them to struggle for an hour or more before they die or are hacked apart while they are still alive — may seem like something out of the history books, but this bloody industry still goes on today in the face of international condemnation, and it’s disgraceful for any game to glorify it," the organization said in a statement published by VentureBeat. "PETA encourages video game companies to create games that celebrate animals — not games that promote hurting and killing them."

This isn't the first time the animal rights organization has gone after video games that it believes promote animal cruelty. A demo for "Overlord II" was briefly in the crosshairs in 2009 for promoting the clubbing of seals, as was the venerable Nintendo character Mario in 2011 for his use of the skin of a raccoon to gain superpowers. More recently, PETA has gone after the Pokémon franchise for promoting the fictional creatures "as unfeeling objects and used for such things as human entertainment and as subjects in experiments."

Ubisoft has yet to comment on PETA's criticism of"Assassin’s Creed 4," but if the company did decide to remove the whaling option, it certainly wouldn't be an unprecedented move by a game publisher. PETA successfully convinced Zynga to remove a pit bull fighting element in the popular Facebook game "Mafia Wars." 

You can watch a trailer for "Assassin’s Creed 4" below. The game is due for release in October 2013. 

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Assassin's Creed 4 slammed by PETA for whaling element
Recently announced pirate-themed videogame called 'disgraceful' by the animal rights organization for glorifying whale hunts.