It’s 2007 and gaming will see an incredibly impressive showing across all genres and platforms. The year was simply an amazing time to be a gamer with a massive launch of beloved titles and series to include Bioshock, Mass Effect, Uncharted: Drakes Fortune, not to mention popular sequels with Super Mario Galaxy, Halo 3,and God of War 2 to name just a few(…and there was way more than a few!). It was in this rising tide of amazing games that Assassin’s Creed would launch in mid-November with its first entry in what would become a lasting franchise.
Now I won’t go into too much story break-down as there are plenty of other well-documented articles and videos that go into great detail on individual aspects. What I want is to look at each game as a whole and share some past and more recent highlights. In particular the more accessible, to modern audiences, which really starts with Assassin’s Creed 2 and the Ezio Trilogy. However, it would be a disservice to not spend a moment with the game that started it all. I should also note I played the Ezio Trilogy in its remastered collection on PlayStation 4.
Assassin’s Creed introduced us to a millennia-old conflict between the freedom-fighting Assassins and the oppressive Templar Order. It’s here we meet Desmond Miles, a man whose memories are key not only to end this secret war but to the ultimate fate of all humankind. Desmond will use the “Animus”, advanced technology that allows him to re-live and control the lives of his ancestors, in order to uncover information about the “First Civilization” and the mysterious “Apple of Eden”.
Assassin’s Creed was generally well received by both critic and gamer alike, though most agreed on the same pro’s and con’s. Playing as Desmond’s descendant Altair Ibn-La’Ahad offered simple but satisfying combat and exploration, with periodic returns to the modern day with Desmond. At release cutting edge visuals, animation, and overall design would receive high praise. On the other hand, many found side mechanics like tailing, pickpocketing, and eavesdropping to be repetitive, along with some sticky movement and tedious modern day sections hurt what was otherwise a solid open-world action title.
I recall after the original launched sacrificing much sleep to prepare Altair with upgrades to max armor, throwing knives, and medicinal pouches needed to wipe the Templar menace from the Holy Lands. Sadly, I maintained only a passing interest in Desmond and his modern-day struggle. In short, towards the final act, the McGuffin presents itself as the “Apple of Eden”…things get weird..both in and out of the Animus. Start the Credits. while I greatly enjoyed my time with Altair and was intrigued by the prospect of more tales in the Assassin universe I was immediately distracted by other gigantic games of the year. It was a blast exploring around but…2007…Mass Effect…Bioshock…I mean c’mon.
It would not be too long until the return of Assassin’s Creed but this outing of Templars and Assassins would be presented from the perspective of the brash but charming Ezio Auditore. The sequels would span the Renaissance period and promise more diverse mechanics, upgraded combat, and diverse location, as an art student they had me at renaissance. Long story short I loved Assassin’s Creed 2. From the sequel onward the series would consistently find a home in my games library. Each title pushed series forward with stream-lined iterations and an overabundance of content.
At the start of what is now known as The Ezio Trilogy, we begin with Assassin’s Creed 2 where we follow a young Ezio Auditore a vengeful young man who wages his battle across varied locations including the gondola -filled waterways of Venice. The series receives a huge shot in the arm with upgrades across all elements. With more engaging combat, stealth, collectibles, optional puzzle-platforming tombs and a robust suite of progression. Assassin’s Creed 2 was important as a concrete foundation for the series with the first game coming off more like an ambitious proof of concept by comparison. Everything about the second game felt focused and polished and received high praise and success commercially and with critics.
The second remains largely intact in 2019 with a varied color palette, fascinating architecture, and prolific historical figures. You meet Leonardo Da Vinci, who is here is playfully and repeatedly quote by media critics as the Q to Ezio’s Bond by providing Ezio with new gadgets. Ezio is trained at brothels in the art of pick-pocketing and staying hidden. Later he’s trained by his uncle “It’s…a..me…Mario!” on swordplay. It’s obvious Ubisoft developers wanted to lighten the tone and enrichen the formula established in the previous title. The gameplay and mechanics just feel mostly good with just a few too many moments of the infamous “sticky” traversal.
Basically still everything I could want from this historical themed open-world game. A bevy of content, interesting characters, visceral combat, and an organic progression system. I was surprised how easily I was again hooked on Assassin’s Creed 2 and happily chased down nearly every collectible and upgrade. I was completely satisfied on completion with high hopes for any diving into the sequels.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood sees Ezio growing into a confident leader with his own budding army as he strives to wrest Rome from Templar control. Brotherhood brings adjustments to combat, customization, with even more collectibles and side stories. New features include a recruitable set of NPC allies who can be called at will for quick assassination or sent away to complete their own quests. Quests which gain Ezio resources used to further improve allies, Ezio’s arsenal, and even repair Rome itself.
Unfortunately, the Desmond side of Assassin’s still feels a bit on the slow side. I find I’m always itching for more Ezio gameplay. Otherwise, Brotherhood still holds up, though outside of multiplayer not hugely different from AC2. Still, I enjoyed watching Ezio come into his own as a master assassin. The one minor gripe with Brotherhood I had was that it was clearly intended to be the next leg of the story and did not really intend to be a complete tale all its own.
Finally, We come to Assassin’s Creed: Revelations where we Ezio, now a wisened leader and mature mentor, seek to resolve long-buried secrets of Altair and the assassin brotherhood as he explores the shadow, fog, and rebellion-riddled streets of Constantinople. Many features and mechanics from Brotherhood title find there way into Revelations with further improvement to both single and multi-player experiences. Early a tower defense-like mechanic is introduced that finds Ezio as a seasoned commander calling on assassin units to fend off encroaching waves of enemies in defense of brotherhood hideouts. Also, new this time around is the ability to craft bombs used for offensive, defensive or diversionary tactics. This outing also gives sees Ezio with a fancy new hook-blade adding diversity to combat and traversal options.
The final act of the trilogy remains my favorite of the three as I found Ezio’s characterization to be the most captivating element of any of these early titles. Not to mention Ezio’s budding romance with a new character Sofia as perhaps one of the most natural relationships in a game of this kind. Every fight, every jump, and fall cleary wear on Ezio as he grunts and groans with mustered effort. It’s these small details that sell him as a very real and aging hero that remain uniquely striking to me(plus he’s not the only one aging…) I was compelled to simply wander and take in the sights and sounds of the foreign yet intriguing streets of Constantinople. The visuals, animations, and sound designs definitely showed their place at the top of the three. Ezio’s final adventure and Revelation still holds a special place for me within the franchise.
I was given a small lens to view events, stories, figures, and life at some of history’s most prolific periods through the eyes of Ezio Auditore, Altair Ibn-La’ Ahad, and Desmond Miles. I was able to skirt about the high walls of Jerusalem, to wander the smokey bazaars of Turkey, and swim the canals of Venice. Those moments alone are worthy of praise. They’re also videogames that bring fun play through exploration, thrilling combat, and honed mechanics. There are more than a few spots rough with age but as a whole, the first four titles in Assassin’s Creed series have maintained an overall sense of quality and still a great deal of fun. Assassin’s Creed is always a perfect choice if you want to swashbuckle your way through history with a few cheeky winks and polished gameplay. It’s clear that the developers at Ubisoft are fans of history and encourage you to be one as well even if its only play in their ornate old-world sandboxes.
P.S. If your reading this Thank you! Stay tuned as Part-2 drops next Friday. Please feel free to share any comments. Also, apologies if I glossed over any parts you find important this was already way too long. Also.. Also…I should give a shoutout #Gamespot, #GameInformer, #IGN, #Wikipedia, and many others whom I used a quick reference on a myriad of info checks! I’m still learning so if you think I missed a specific credit please let me know. Have a great weekend!