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TAC Reviews...The Rise and Fall of Assassin's Creed

 

When I first created this site it was my intention to do full and complete reviews of any games or shows that I have played. The review below is of the first game in the Assassin’s Creed franchise but as time has gone on it has become obvious that it is sometimes difficult to say new things about games or shows that are pretty similar to one another.

 

 

Now in certain circumstances I will look at each addition to a series, the Dead Space games spring to mind, but that is not becoming the norm simply because there are so many franchises out there which spawn game after game after game that I don’t have the time or the inclination to play them all. That is basically what happened with Assassin’s Creed. I played the first game, then II, Brotherhood and Revelations but started to lose interest in the franchise after that.

 

I have done a full review of Assassin’s Creed and after that is the article which shares it’s title with this section in which I take a look at what happened to the franchise as the games continued.

 

So below is:

 

Assassin’s Creed

The Rise and Fall of Assassin’s Creed

 

If you have played the other games and I am in fact mistaken in my opinion then feel free to let me know, and who knows I might take your advice and check them out for myself.

 

TAC Reviews...Assassin's Creed

 

Not surprisingly this is first installment in the questionably historically accurate Assassin's Creed franchise. It stars demoted assassin Altair as he hunts down and assassinates various historical figures.

 

Assassin's Creed

 

Now I understand that by today's standards the ability to go anywhere and climb pretty much anything is the norm, however, it was games like Assassin's Creed that really started the whole see-as-far-as-you-can sandbox game.

 

This game franchise gives you, the player, the ability to sneak around stealth killing people and living those assassination fantasies that come so naturally to us all...or do they just come naturally to me??

 

Probably best not to answer that question - anyway, moving on...

 

Here is the premise of all the Assassin's Creed games, you take the role of a protagonist in the future who is in a machine that allows a chap called Desmond to relive the genetic memories of an ancestor (don’t ask how that works), so you spend most of the game playing as Altair an assassin so that Desmond (in the future) can learn something relevant which may help him in the future...clear?? Excellent.

 

Even though it began in 2007, Assassin’s Creed franchise is still going strong and whilst it has had its ups and downs, generally it continues to delight fans of the free roaming and assassin genre. Well, when I say fans, I mean of course me. So for this review let’s check out the first of the Assassin’s Creed series...er...Assassin’s Creed. The game was developed by Eidos, the team behind the Hitman series and it seems that they have taken key elements from that series and put them in a new setting which gives a far greater freedom to the player than previous games.

 

The Jerusalem setting has been very carefully designed, with the scenery being viewed simultaneously as you swivel the camera. This was one of the first next-gen games which showed you everything surrounding you, instead of it popping-up as you get nearer and vanishing when you were far away. All of the major cities of the Holy land are an easy horse ride away from one another but such things are just minor details and that historically inaccurate fact should not get in the way of enjoying the game.

 

You can go almost anywhere, Altair can climb buildings with an ease which would put Spiderman to shame; there are many ways of hiding in plain sight. You can blend in with robed monks wandering the holy land, or hide in haystacks or rooftop gardens. The reason for this is that you have the chance of rescuing innocent civilians or picking pockets in order to gain more information about your target. There are added advantages of helping out the little people getting picked on by unsympathetic guards, if you rescue them successfully, mobs of vigilantes start roaming the streets. They trip over guards and anyone chasing you which gives you an opportunity to get out of their line of sight and hide.

 

On the downside, the missions revolve around Altair trying to redeem himself for breaking the Creed, the rules that he, and his fellow assassins, are supposed to live by. He gets sent to a section of Jerusalem and has the option of doing side-missions before being allowed a shot at the target. Regrettably this is where the game gets a little repetitive because even the most skilled assassin seems unable to creep up to the target and kill them in a way which doesn’t alert every guard in the Holy land. You will probably find yourself charging through the streets like a madman with your sword in hand trying to kill a man running for his life with all your careful years of training to be a stealthy assassin disappearing as you slice your way through armies of guards before running your target down.

 

Altair also cannot swim as this causes the machine Desmond is in to break down so treat water like the “floor is lava” and do not go anywhere near it or you will have to reload a checkpoint.

 

The other real negative is the voice-overs. After spending so much time making the movements of the characters flow seamlessly, and creating a magnificent environment, admittedly with deadly water that you cannot go near, to play in, you would think that Eidos would also have spent as much time with the voice-overs. Now Altair and those in his Creed are all fine, but the game really loses points with the extra voices. Beggars in particular only have two lines which they repeat over and over as they attempt to get money from you as you wander around, this gets very irritating very quickly, still on the plus side you can always kill them if they wind you up enough. You will lose points off your own health bar if you take an innocent life, but honestly, sometimes it is worth it.

 

So the final verdict is this a Thumbs Up or a Thumbs Down?? Honestly, by today’s standards when there are tonnes of free roaming games, and characters can perch atop high places and see for miles this game will seem incredibly dated, however, it is because of games like this that now we do have games where you can perch on top of things and see for miles.

 

Assassin’s Creed therefore gets a Thumbs Up for, in my humble opinion, helping to pioneer a genre.

 

 

6/10 – Yes it has dated in the last 7 years but it is still a good game and worth playing although just don’t bother to try and figure out exactly what is going on.

 

TAC Reviews...The Rise and Fall of Assassin's Creed

 

One of the first reviews for this site was of Assassin’s Creed, and depending on when you are reading this, that review will either be in the TAC Reviews…Games section or above this article. Now at the time I had played the first game, enjoyed it and proceeded to play through Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood and Revelations. Each game added stuff and each game seemed to expand the world of the assassins that little bit more.

 

 

The second game introduced new series protagonist Ezio Alditore de Firenze, a young man who learns of his family’s legacy when his father, and brothers are murdered by Templars. In my opinion Ezio was a more interesting protagonist that Altair simply because he was learning how to become an assassin and we learned with him. He mastered his skills over the course of the game eventually becoming a Master Assassin. The backdrop to Ezio’s life was Renaissance Italy and he crossed paths with non-other than Leonardo Da Vinci who invented a lot of the tools that made Ezio a more skilled assassin. Whether the game makers were always intending to make more games centred around Ezio I don’t know, but it seems likely as in the final battle Ezio chooses not to kill the man responsible for basically all the bad happening across Italy during the game.

 

Coupled with the weak ending, the game was also not without some niggles, at Ezio’s home base you could reopen stores and collect feathers for your mother…I know highly exciting stuff…but these served as little side things to do if you wanted to do them. It also gave you something to do with the money that you gathered as you played through.

 

Keen to see more of Ezio’s life (and judging by the lame ending of the last game) Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood also featured Ezio. This time a little older and following a crushing defeat at the hands of his enemies (you know the one he should have killed at the end of II) he is forced to relocate to Rome and build his own assassin order.

 

To that end it became possible in this game to recruit others to join your order and level them up. This could be done by calling them to your aid during battles, or alternatively, by sending them out on missions all over the world. The harder the mission the more xp they would earn and the faster they would level up, but the greater the risk to them. I did get cocky a couple of times and as a result sometimes my assassins didn’t always come back. I quickly learned that the best way to level them up was to send low-level assassins on missions with higher levels, if the mission had a 100% success rate your assassins would always return so the recruits could level up faster. I remember thinking at the time it was a bit of a shame the missions weren’t more tailored to different assassin’s strengths. For example the mission in which your assassin had to seduce someone in order to get closest to their target, it didn’t matter if you sent a man or a woman to do it, nor did it matter if you sent Prince Charming or Quasimodo. If the stats said 100% they would succeed. The benefit of sending out recruits is to earn money but also to have a team of Master Assassins at your beck and call whenever you need them. Like I said they could leap into to battle at your side or rain down a storm of arrows that would kill any guard in the area who had the nerve to look at you funny.

 

The game was good fun and was the best I’d played because you were playing Ezio in his prime. It also seemed to open up a lot faster than II because I like to go off and unlock everything I possibly can as quickly as I can so I get to use upgrades during the game. However, there were areas locked out until later in the game which were annoying but were locked for story reasons which is fair enough I guess.

 

The rebuilding mini-game was also built upon in Brotherhood with Ezio able to buy and restore various shops, but also historical landmarks too. There is not real point to restoring landmarks other than the liberation of Rome and you do it to spend the money you’ve earned during the game.

 

Another issue was that once you sell something in a shop you cannot get it back, in order to unlock the final piece of the game’s best armour you need two Shrunken Heads, one you find early in the game and another in an Assassin’s vault (or something like that). Thing is if you don’t know you need it for the armour and sell one of them then there is no way to get it back again which means you cannot get the armour. Which meant that you did need to be a bit more careful with selling items you collected from chests.

 

Of the Assassin’s Creed games Brotherhood was the one I played the most because it was my favourite.

 

We once again joined Ezio, now much older in Revelations where he is on the trail of Altair who has some great secret that Ezio needs to find…that is kind-of it from what I can recall. This time you are in Constantinople and once again Ezio has lost all of his equipment and needs to unlock new tools but perhaps by this time I was starting to get a little bored of the Assassin’s Creed games.

 

The backdrop of all of these games was that Desmond Miles was looking through the memories of his ancestors in order to learn something of use in the present, he got to go out and about a bit in Brotherhood but is in a coma by Revelations. Apparently the only way to preserve his mind is to delve into Ezio’s life once again but the Desmond sections were always a tad dull that took you away from the more interesting core game as you’d much rather be playing as Ezio.

 

I finished the game and it did link the Assassins through the ages together which was good.

 

The adventures of Ezio were obviously popular enough for Assassin’s Creed The Ezio Collection to get a PS4 release, as of yet I haven’t played them on that console, but sooner or later I might pick them up.

 

Like I said Revelations wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be, the recruitment of people to become assassins and the mission you could send them on had gotten more complicated. There was also a siege mode that involved waves of Templars attacking strongholds and you having to do a tower defence game to stop them. This addition could be stopped if you placed a Master Assassin at each stronghold so not having to do this new feature is considered a reward.

 

I did intend to play Assassin’s Creed III  but for one reason or another I did not get round to it. I heard that it was actually pretty shit. It was set around the American Revolution or Civil War (I forget which) with Conner (?) I think that was his name somehow having everything to do with the success of the side the Assassins were on.

 

Can you tell I have very little knowledge of this game??

 

Basically in the end I did not bother with it and the general consensus from many fans of the franchise was that it had peaked with Ezio’s adventures and the game makers were grasping at straws to keep the games going.

 

Apparently Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag was really good, with you getting to roam the seas during a Pirates of the Caribbean style adventure. From what I’ve heard you got to go whaling, dive for buried treasure, have ship-to-ship battles and upgrade your vessel. It sounded really interesting but for whatever reason I haven’t picked it up. I think it is partially because I like to play games in order so I know what is happening, and as I cannot be asked to play through III that may be why I haven’t got IV yet. I don’t know.

 

Anyway after Black Flag we had Assassin’s Creed Rogue then Assassin’s Creed Unity before moving to Victorian England in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate in which you can play as a woman for the first time in the franchise’s canon. These three games I know very little about and I have no intention of playing through them nor the most recent game Assassin’s Creed Origins. Hell until I did a quick internet search I had completely forgotten that Rogue and Unity even existed which demonstrates how little an impact they had on my attention span.

 

For a franchise that went from strength to strength from Assassin’s Creed to Brotherhood it miss-stepped a little with Revelations then wandered off a cliff with Assassin’s Creed III. Before managing to get things back on track with Black Flag before dropping off again with Rogue, Unity, Syndicate and Origins.

 

Personally I assumed that Desmond Miles framing device was going to actually give way to a game in which we played as Desmond in a modern world, but that didn’t happen. From what I understand Desmond died in Assassin’s Creed III to be replaced with a nameless protagonist so what was the point of including him?? Yes, Desmond had the personality of a piece of wood but as the games went on he seemed to be learning the skills to make him a Master Assassin allowing him to take centre stage in a game of his own. Unfortunately it seems that idea was scrapped in favour of just making game, after game, after game in order to keep the franchise going as long as possible. But that will be the nail in its coffin. There is no purpose to these games aside from messing around in different historical eras and obviously keeping them going to make more money.

 

I might pick up Black Flag at some point but for me the Assassin’s Creed games have lost the spark that made them so much fun to play. Ezio was a great character and his back drop of parkour through Renaissance Italy was a joy, however as things have gone on the games seem to have gotten weaker. They are punctuated by the occasional good game like Black Flag but on the whole they just exist to keep a franchise that needs to die going.

 

I might play Black Flag in the future but for the moment I have completely lost interest in this franchise because the games just seem to be mediocre now when they used to be really good fun.

 

Perhaps I shouldn't give the games a Thumb rating because I haven't played, now the majority, of the Assassin's Creed games. For the ones I have played I would have given them a Thumbs Up, but considering that the later games are apparently not very good I would have likely given them a Thumbs Down. I think I will give the overall Assassin's Creed games my meh rating and leave my Thumb Horizontal for the entire franchise.

 

 

5/10 – Again maybe I couldn’t give the franchise a rating without having played all of the games it has to offer, however, it seems that for every good game in this franchise there seem to be at least a couple that are mediocre at best. The games that centered around Ezio were my favourite of the franchise, but I lost interest in them after the settings changed and the protagonists became less interesting. I might play Black Flag at some point but for the moment I have got other games that I am going to play through first.

 

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