I cannot believe that it has already been TEN years since the release of the first Assassin’s Creed! When the game released in 2007, I was amazed. The game had history, exploration, and mystery – all the elements I desired in a game.
Assassin’s Creed was never meant to be a standalone series, it was meant to be a part of Prince of Persia. The similarities are pretty evident, but what made Assassin’s Creed stand out was that it involved the player within the story in many ways. It wasn’t just a linear story where we kill and move on to next mission. We were given different lands to explore in a setting that we were not familiar with. Then we are brought back to the present day with Desmond Miles to seek out the hidden messages about the end of the world.
The gameplay was different than what we had seen before. We play as Altaïr, a human with near-supernatural powers like eagle vision and the ability to not break a bone after doing the leap of faith from 100 ft. tall building. The hidden blade was an intimate weapon, we face our enemies literally face-to-face or sneak from behind and snatch their life away. Secrecy was a important too, unless the enemy’s dead body slid off of the rooftop and alerted the enemies on the ground. What made this game so unique was that we had Desmond playable as the other protagonist who became involved in the Assassin versus Templar mess.
Assassin’s Creed was shrouded in secrecy with the motives of Abstergo, aspirations of all the characters, assassin hideouts, hidden messages, puzzles, and basically everything else. What really brought the whole game together was parkour. Parkour let us become intimate with the setting and allowed us to explore every nook and cranny of the map. It enhanced stealth and combat which made it stand out and because of that it captured everyone’s attention. It has even inspired fans to parkour in their Assassin outfit on the streets of their city.
It wasn’t until Assassin’s Creed II where I started seeing Assassin’s Creed as a promising series. I love Assassin’s Creed II because of the art of the Renaissance, the beautiful architecture and landscape, and how lively the game felt. It was an improvement in story both historically and in the present day situation. Ezio felt like an actual character with a story to tell, unlike emotionless Altaïr who was simply carrying out orders. We first play as Ezio when he was a newborn, we press a button and Ezio starts kicking his feet. Through his trilogy, Ezio went from a careless teenager of a wealthy family to a wise mentor of the Assassin Brotherhood. Playing as Ezio from his birth till old age made him a cherished character.
Ubisoft gave us this blessing of a game and next came Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood which maintained my exhilaration. I do not want to spend much time on Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood because it’s basically Assassins Creed II but with assassin buddies.
However, I could spend days talking about the soundtracks in the series. I believe if a game delivers captivating music, it will make the experience and the memory of the game so much better. In these ten years nothing has come close the Assassin’s Creed II track ‘Ezio’s Family’, except for the ‘Assassin’s Creed Theme’ from the very emotional Assassin’s Creed Revelations. For me, ‘Assassin’s Creed Theme’ represents the end of Assassin’s Creed’s golden age, being the finale for Ezio and Altaïr. These were the characters that brought Assassin’s Creed to it’s glory.
This was when the series took a bitter sweet turn. Although Assassin’s Creed III‘s story didn’t impress me, the game’s mechanics and setting did. It was refreshing to have a game that truly felt new with features that were completely absent in previous games. Finally we could jump on trees!
By this time, it felt like the series was forgetting its roots and going for something too different. The bitterness turned sweet with the release of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Black Flag felt like it was an apology for the lackluster Assassin’s Creed III. Black Flag took advantage of the new features and made it the most fun Assassin’s Creed game. Building a ship, gathering materials, or randomly getting attacked by a leopard, it was thrilling! Also, I never thought destroying ships would make me feel so satisfied.
Yet, the series became unstable – kind of like when Ezio is chasing a target through a crowd but bumps into a civilian that got in the way, then falls down and takes a while to get back up. By then the target is out of sight. In this analogy, Ezio is Ubisoft.
Ubisoft was chasing their target to bring back their reputation of the series, but Assassin’s Creed Unity got in the way. In Unity, it was cool to jump through windows, hide inside of peoples homes, and have a systematic way of climbing in a detailed city. After having such an exhilarating game like Black Flag, Unity fell a little flat. Honestly, Unity was not as bad of a game as some people make it out to be. A year later, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate brought hope to many fans and put the series back on its feet. Eventually, Ubisoft tackled their target, which is Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Although I did become disappointed with the series, I still believe it is untouchable. Even some frustrations I had with the game have become nostalgic. I remember how sometimes if I tried to climb up a tall building I suddenly would not be able to climb any higher. Clearly there was a brick above I could climb onto, but when I went for it, I pushed myself off the building and crash land. “Desynchronized”, I hate that word.
When the series began in 2007, Assassin’s Creed stood out and the series still does set itself apart from other games. Now, the series needs to set itself apart from the past ten years by adding a main playable female protagonist in the series. We had Evie in Syndicate, yet her brother Jacob was considered as the main protagonist. There was also Aveline from Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, but that game was a spin off of Assassin’s Creed III. Ubisoft needs to gives us a game where the female protagonist that does not have to share the spotlight with a male or be a part of a spin off.
Even after turbulent times, Assassin’s Creed always delivered a game that was new and innovative. As an open world game, the series never failed to deliver beautiful locations influenced by ones in real life. Our protagonists were rebellious, yet each had a unique story to tell. The setting of each game dealt with a specific part of our history that we have knowledge about. Still, Ubisoft cleverly tied in history with today’s world and with the secrets of our civilization that the Assassins and Templars fight over. No other game has reached this level of complexity in a game about alternate reality. Assassin’s Creed has gifted me and many other fans with incredible memories the past ten years. I hope Ubisoft learns from past mistakes and delivers even more greatness with future Assassin’s Creed games.