I have played and loved the series since the first time we met Altair. The key aspect that drew me to the game, was not the killing, or sneaking, or even the story – don’t get me wrong, all of these factors were great, but the main thing was the movement. No game had done it like that before, the fact that you could run towards a wall, hit X (for PS) and suddenly you were on your way to the top of the building. This was amazing to me, mainly because I’m a big fan of movement in games, but I’m also a fan of Parkour or free-running. Gone are the days when you were stuck because a foot tall fence was blocking your way. That coupled with the great story, terrific combat, and interesting characters, made Assassins Creed the GOTY (Game Of The Year) of 2007 for me.
In 2009, we got the sequel and were introduced to the world of Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, a brash, rich nobleman. With the interesting main character and the setting of 16th century Italy, the game was looking promising and the hype for it was HUGE. And it delivered. The story was solid, nothing amazing – revenge as the main theme with learning the ways of an Assassin in close second. Yet there was something about Ezio that had people hooked – the once womanizing , carefree rich boy, who lost almost everything when his father and brothers were killed. Thus began the story of Ezio and in my mind, the finest antagonist family in gaming: The Borgias. We got to meet many famous characters from the history, like Leonardo Da Vinci, Niccolò Machiavelli and Caterina Sforza and all had their part to play in the game. The second Assassins Creed was part soap-opera, part modified history lesson, with some killing thrown into the mix.
This story also gave us two well received sequels: Assassin Creed Brotherhood and Assassin Creed Revelations. In Brotherhood we saw the death of Ezio’s uncle Mario, the man who taught Ezio everything about being an Assassin and the destruction of the family home; Villa Auditore in the hands of the latest Borgia addition: Cesare. Brotherhood also was the conclusion to the Borgia versus Ezio saga. Most of the characters from Assassin Creed 2 made an appearance here and continue the story flawlessly.
In Assassin Creed Revelations we see a much older Ezio…well, we see the gray beard, otherwise it’s still the same guy. Apparently the years have been kind to the man. In Revelations we go back to the birthplace of the Assassins Creed series, back to Masyaf and for a few moments, we get to be Altair once more. A nostalgic feeling for the long time fans of the series. The story revolves around the secret library that houses a magical secret, oh and guess what? The Templars are after it (a shocker I know). Ezio has to find the keys to open the doors of the library. There are new gadgets, new characters, new missions and new cities to explore.
In 2012 Assassins Creed 3 was released. A very American tale of a young native American man who goes on a quest to do…uh…something. Actually we start the game as Haytham Kenway and during his travels, he met Kaniehtí: Io, a young native American woman and the result of this was Ratonhnhaké: ton or Connor as we came to know him. This is where the main story begins; After the attack on the village, Connor found his mother pinned in a burning house but can’t save her. I mentioned the quest to do something, that’s what it really is, he has no clue what he is doing or why at the beginning, all he knows; find the symbol of the Assassins Order. With that information in mind he leaves the village. The story is basic revenge and training to be the assassin we all know and love, but with the added bonus of a strange father/son relationship. You see, Haytham Kenway is a Templar.
The storytelling in the Assassins Creed series has always been great, the characters interesting, the gameplay and movement smooth and flowing. In the first one, it was a time never before explored – the Crusades, Templars, and secrets. In the Ezio saga, it was interesting characters, well known figures from history, beautiful places and a quest to right the wrong. In my opinion, this all changed in Assassins Creed 3. The whole game is one big “good idea”. It just doesn’t deliver. The story is boring, the characters even more so, and our main hero has to step in to some HUGE boots and after Ezio, Connor just seems SO dull. I didn’t care about him at all. Like I said, it was a good idea to set an Assassins Creed game at the time of the US Civil War and even add the well known figures from that time period, but I think they tried too hard. Adding so much stuff to one game, a game that behind all the shiny plots and characters is just: Kill, Climb, repeat. It took forever to start the REAL story and I was bored out of my mind when it WAS finally time to unleash Connor. The first thing I had to do; gather up things for the village. Okay, I have played WoW for many years, I can do that. Second thing: gather more things! Even when I started with Connor, I wasn’t going anywhere. Maybe this was the part that ruined the rest of the game for me. I just didn’t care.
This year the latest addition will be released, Assassins Creed: The Black Flag. We play as the father of Haytham and the grandfather of Connor. A British member of the assassins order and also a pirate. Like all the games before, there is going to be famous characters from history, Hidden Blades, counters after counters after counters. But will the story be any good? Are they going to keep the “do anything and you will have 7 guards on your tail” style of gaming from Assassins Creed 3. Are they going back to the simpler ways? Back to the days where you had a target, you killed the target and the story continues? Or are they throwing even more additions into the mix? Who continues the story in Animus and in present day? I have many questions, many doubts, many concerns, but all I can do for now is to wait for the release of Assassins Creed: The Black Flag in October.