Ubisoft, today, is one company that is surrounded with a lot of controversies. I don’t know if it’s just me, but Ubisoft always kicks off to a great start with a franchise and just as they see potential they drain out all the excitement which made the game good. Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry are prime examples. But today, as the title suggests, Assassin’s Creed is in the spotlight. This is all my personal opinion, so for all those haters- Screw You. (This being said, I myself was an Assassin’s Creed Fan, BIGTIME).
Note: We are only going to talk about the main entries of the franchise. (Not Liberation, Rogue etc)
Starting the franchise was obviously Assassin’s Creed. Most of us know that it was actually Prince of Persia: Assassins. When Prince of Persia The Two Thrones’ garnered mediocre reviews across all review sites; Ubisoft thought that it was a good idea to change the name of the game. As it turned out the change paid off.
Whatever you may say about the game (Assassin’s Creed), it was awesome. It was a revolution. 2007 was a time when ingenuity in games had come to a standstill and even lesser games allowed for open world (These days every alternate game is open world). Icing on the cake was the parkour (Free running) mechanism which most of us had noticed even back then, had been inspired from the Prince of Persia franchise. Allowing for such movement in a wide open world was like a dream come true for many gamers. As for the story, the interesting concept of Desmond being able to relive his ancestor’s memories was fascinating, the search for the Apple of Eden and Altair’s personal life added a lot of variables to the story-line. Many gamers complained that the game became repetitive as they approached the end, but even with its shortcomings, there was no doubt that the game was pure fun.
The sequel, i.e. Assassin’s Creed 2 came out 2 years later and Ubisoft hit a bulls-eye. Almost every aspect of the game had been improved upon. Gameplay- Check! graphics Check! Better Story- Check! An Engaging character Check! A historically accurate setting Double Check!!. It felt as if Ubisoft had released a poll among the underworld gamers and had asked them what they would want in the next installment.
Ezio Auditore da Florence is probably one of the best protagonists ever and holds a special place in many die-hard fans and fanboys alike. There was depth to his character, unlike Altair who always spoke in monotonous way. And it was refreshing to see a more cheerful character . The story also didn’t disappoint. It struck the perfect balance between Ezio’s personal story of avenging his family and the ongoing conflict between Assassins & Templars. We also get to meet the great ‘Leonardo da Vinci’, who helps us with our “Weapons of Mass Killings”. Again, just like AC1, AC2 did get a bit repetitive as we reach the end, but improving on all the shortcomings made it worth playing all the same.
The next game was a sequel to AC2 but was not named AC3, rather Ubisoft named it Brotherhood (Probably owing to the new mechanism of building a Brotherhood). This game saw the rise of the now infamous “Yearly Releases” for the franchise. Though it was a great game, there were not a lot of changes. The biggest one though was that you could create a brotherhood by saving people who were always in trouble with the Borgia guards. The Assassins in your brotherhood could be called in for assistance in fights (Which I never found the use of) or could be sent on missions around the globe, to increase their level. The story was also pretty good with Ezio trying to revive the Assassin Brotherhood along with the search for the Piece of Eden.
This was the last time that Assassin’s Creed was truly at its peak.
Revelations was like a DLC to Brotherhood. At least it would have been a great DLC because it was not that great a game.
The story, even though good, felt too much of a drag on. The occasional view into the life of Altair was a good way for players who had not played Assassin’s Creed, to catch up to when and where the story began. The game mechanism had changed in quite a few ways with positive as well as negative aspects. The introduction of hook blade and bomb crafting was awesome. The negative aspect here was that I never actually found any use for bombs, unless it was for full synchronization or for an achievement. Another negative aspect was the introduction of a Tower Defense mini game, where you had to defend one of your bases, when attacked by Templars. This mini game failed miserably (No words).
Assassin’s Creed 3, I personally feel was the last game that actually kept me interested till the end. I was disappointed that we could not play as Haytham Kenway, who was a much better character than Connor Kenway (Ratonhnhake:ton), though it became obvious later, that Haytham was a templar. The game does have some of the historical events like the American Tea Party, but the story overall is very weak and plot-holes can easily be noticed.
Connor, being a weak character does not help either. The gameplay changed dramatically for this game because it was utilizing a newer engine. Overall the gameplay was decent but the AI downright sucked. The opponents would wait for you to take them down. It was like I was playing on Extra Easy mode. The visuals were great and I won’t deny that. Another positive part according to the critics (‘Not’ in my opinion) were naval battles. I personally didn’t like the naval battles because Assassin’s don’t generally involve themselves in such conflict by going out in the open. But the series had concluded the story of Desmond Miles whom we liked to dislike, and it would have been a decent ending, had it not been for the future titles.
Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag; don’t even get me started on this one. The game is seriously garbage from the story point of view. I mean, you begin as Edward Kenway, you’re a pirate, your ship crashes onto an island, incidentally you don’t get injured and somehow even though you’ve had no whatsoever assassin training, you are able to use Eagle Vision, you’re able to climb walls like one of the Assassins, are also able to kill a fully equipped assassin and continuing the series of almost impossible co-incidences, the clothes of the Assassin just fit you perfectly(This is a flaw in many movies and games, but still). Just wow!! The build up to the story is simply bad.
Moving ON, “Where the heck is animus and how & why did we start as Haytham’s Father?” All these loopholes can’t be solved. On top of that, Assassin’s Creed 4 is just another story of personal interest and the main concept of the conflict between Assassins and Templars had gone for a toss. In fact, the mentor of the Assassins (Who is an assassin, just for the name), kind of humiliates us by saying that we are not a true assassin. That really ticked me off.
The gameplay is good, no doubt, but a game without a good story is simply not my preference. The worst part about the game were the naval battles. Since the naval battles had gotten some positive reviews in AC3, Ubisoft thought that it was a good idea to overflow AC4 with the same mechanism. I played Assassin’s Creed for its dynamic movement and parkour, not for riding ships (Though I would I agree that harpooning and treasure hunting was fun).
Assasins’ Creed Unity, will be better off forgotten, because it was such a broken game that Ubisoft had to give out free DLCs to calm the crowd down (On the PC). The game overall, even on consoles was not stable. Game breaking bugs were present in the PC version and not many people including myself completed the game. So I don’t know what the story was, but from what I’ve heard, the story was not all that good either. As for the gameplay, there was introduction to some new mechanics, but in my personal opinion they actually came in the way of having fun.
By this time all the aspects that made the early Assassin’s Creed games good had vanished from recent titles.
I am yet to play AC Syndicate and it remains the first AC game in a long time, for which I actually waited on a review before playing it myself. Incidentally with the mediocre reviews it did get, I don’t see myself playing the game any time soon.
Ubisoft has given us a good 2 years break from their strayed series, which, if the rumors are correct will be set in Egypt. I honestly don’t think that there is a way to revive the series unless they reboot the series (Which has not went well for Ubisoft in the past) or they try to make good stories of standalone games. It may be that Assassin’s Creed franchise ha finally reached its natural end, but I hope it is not so.
For a fan who has been brought up on Assassin’s Creed. I hope that in 2 years time I would be writing an article titled, “The Rise, Fall and Rise of Assassin’s Creed”.