Assassin’s Creed – PC
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: April 8, 2008
Geek Rating: 6/10
It’s not a secret that Ubisoft has made a successful legacy out of the Assassin’s Creed series. It’s so successful in fact that Ubisoft reported that the Assassin’s Creed franchise has sold over 73 million copies worldwide, making the series Ubisoft’s highest grossing franchise.
Like all successful franchises, a legacy starts with one game. The one game that is so amazing and exciting that it warrants another game follow after its footsteps. Sequels to any game can either elevate a series to a new level or forever taint the name of the mother-game. It’s pretty safe to say that Ubisoft handled the sequels of Assassin’s Creed with great care and really grew upon the first game.
In Assassin’s Creed, Desmond Miles – a bartender with a dark past – is kidnapped by a large corporation by the name of Abstergo Industries. What does Abstergo want with him, you may ask? Well it’s simple really, they want the “memories” of his ancestors. Abstergo possesses a machine called the Animus which allows its users to view and interact with the “genetic memories” of the their ancestors. Abstergo wants Desmond’s ancestral memories to find a treasure unlike any other.
Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad is a second century Crusade’s Assassin with behavior issues (who also happens to be distantly related to Desmond). During a mission he comprised the safety of his band of assassins and disgraced his own name in the process. Because of this he is stripped of all of his honorable titles and forced to work his way back up through the ranks of the Assassin Order. In order to regain his honor he must almost single-handedly assassinate an entire group of Templars who possess great power and influence during the time period.
The battle between the secretive societies of the Templars and Assassins is one that has been fought since the dawn of time. The two groups are constantly at battle with one another, most of the time over artifacts called the “Pieces of Eden.” The Pieces of Eden are artifacts left by an ancient humanoid race that hold the power to control entire populations. After the Crusades, the Templars became a little more secret with their dealings and have since gone under the name Abstergo Industries. In the present day setting, Abstergo looks for hidden “Pieces of Eden” through the use of Animus technology under the justification of “research purposes”.
Looking at the original Assassin’s Creed game alone, I’ve come to the realization that it really isn’t all that great of a game. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as much of an Assassin’s Creed fan as the next person, but I was not overly enthused with the original game. Now before you lot start sharpening your pitchforks, let me tell you why.
First off, this game is really, really repetitive. Nearly all the missions had the same set up. Meet with the mentor, go to one of the cities, meet with the bureau leader, gather information, gain permission from the bureau leader to continue, kill the Templar in question and report back to the mentor. There’s very little deviation of the sequence of events which makes for an exhausting game. Assassin’s Creed is very hard to binge-play because it’s so repetitive and oftentimes gets boring.
If the repetitiveness didn’t kill the game for me, the plot did. Assassin’s Creed’s plot was less than thrilling. This is could be because missions were repetitive, but it could also be because the plot wasn’t all too engaging to begin with. The only parts of the game where I was even slightly engaged were the very beginning, the very end, and the modern parts in between. The majority of the game was needless noise that probably should have been condensed down into just a few major plot points rather than countless small ones that dragged out the game.
The saving grace of this game was the potential that the modern-day plot had. Compared with the rest of the game, the modern-day plot was vastly more riveting. I, as a gamer, was more interested in Desmond’s plight against the all-powerful Abstergo than Altaïr’s journey to bring lost honor back to his name. Desmond was far more relatable as a character. I mean, we’ve all been a little victimized by large corporation at some point, right? Maybe not to the extent that Assassin’s Creed took it, but still . . .
It’s pretty widely accepted the Assassin’s Creed franchise is very unique. There isn’t another game that quite does what Assassin’s Creed is able to do. One of the major things Assassin’s Creed had going for it was that the setting was interesting and functional. The explorable world is well developed and (for the most part) quite functional. In a world where the Middle East isn’t the best place to have a casual family vacation, Assassin’s Creed allows gamers to experience another world and culture within the safety of their houses. This is one of the aspects that drew me towards it to begin with.
While Assassin’s Creed enables one to experience new cultures, a player is also able to experience a loose version of the past. Assassin’s Creed is probably the most successful “historical fiction” video game franchise. History geeks (like myself) have the ability to geek out over represented historical events such as the Third Crusade (although the developers took some liberties with historical events for plot purposes). This historical fiction niche was later honed in with the addition of the Animus Database (not appearing in the first game) which gave historical information about people and places to those who cared enough to read it.
Despite not being a great game, Assassin’s Creed is vastly important to the series as a whole and should not be overlooked because it had a couple of faults. Assassin’s Creed layered the foundation for future games to stand on and is usually referenced at least once in every game (Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was practically a direct sequel of the original). I do have to give kudos to Ubisoft for creating this game and growing upon it with the sequels to make it the well beloved series that it is today.
I cannot, in all honesty, wholeheartedly recommend playing the original Assassin’s Creed. If one were to skip this game and go straight into Assassin’s Creed II, I would recommend watching a “movie” version of the original on YouTube (which includes all cut scenes and crucial bits of missions) or reading a plot summary to prevent confusion in later games. You aren’t missing out on much, I swear.
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