Everybody knows Assassin’s Creed 2 is the dope.
Ezio is the swaggiest of all Assassins.
And the Ezio trilogy is the best trilogy within a trilogy EVER.
So it would make sense for Ubisoft to release the Assassin’s Creed Ezio Collection as a remaster for the next gen consoles. It will generate a feeling of nostalgia among long time fans, and may even sway younger gamers to the franchise reducing the bitterness that Assassin Creed has accumulated over the past few years. It seems like a good plan. And it works for the most part.
Assassin’s Creed The Ezio Collection
As the story and characters are the same, we won’t reassess them here. Suffice it to say that Ezio is still as charming and human as I remembered, making his story a delight to play through. Desmond is actually less irritating than I remembered, and the story as a whole is intriguing, fast-paced and enjoyable, especially when you are playing the entire arc in one go.
All 3 games ran smoothly and without any bugs, though Brotherhood did crash on me a few times at the start of the game. But once I got past the opening cinematic (in my 3rd try) it was smooth sailing from there on.
(-) Remaster or NO master
As far as remastering goes however, this is far from perfect. Unlike the Bioshock Collection a few months back, the amount of effort that has gone in remastering the games seems far too less. Assassin’s Creed 2 seems to have taken the brunt of the ignorance, and seems as the game received a gamma increase in its display as the only improvement.
Thankfully, by the time you get to Brotherhood, and particularly Revelations, the characters look significantly better. Ezio’s beard might occasionally shift pigment range, but for the most part he and his allies are consistently well created. Plus, the bustling city filled with people and outfits of all types look phenomenal; it’s this installment that looks the most like what we’ve come to expect from a PS4 game.
(+) Rose tinted glasses
The cities, too, are well recreated. The signature moment of syncing with the high points of towers, looking down on the panorama of the city below is still breathtaking and highly enjoyable. While the cities are still vibrant and enjoyable, filled with the hustle and bustle of various groups of pedestrians who are perfect to use as camouflage for your assassinations, they aren’t nearly as expansive or complicated as nostalgia led me to believe. Most locations are pretty close together, and with buildings practically on top of each other, running alone rooftops is a breeze even without the extra gadgets that came in later Assassin’s Creed installments.
The same applies to gameplay. While AC2 did a great job of refining what was good about Assassin’s Creed, then rolling it into a storyline with pace, strong mission design and narrative momentum, it’s still far from being the perfect Assassin’s Creed you might remember. Combat is surprisingly messy and slapdash, while all the climbing and parkour stuff feels hostage to the vagaries of the game’s systems. It suddenly decides that what you really want to do isn’t jump upwards to the next brick ledge on the outside of a Florentine church tower, but leap sideways off the tower onto the cobbled streets several hundred feet below.
But just like in graphics, the combat once again feels a lot tighter when in comes to Brotherhood. The combat is tighter, faster and more free-flowing, while the movement seems less prone to bizarre misinterpretations of your inputs on the controller. Rome beats Florence and Venice on size, but also on depth and atmosphere, and there are some superb, almost Tomb Raider-like sequences of climbing and puzzle-solving on top of the usual exploration and assassination.
(-) The peak and the descent of the Creed
Once again, playing through Brotherhood you appreciate the addition in gameplay elements and recognize more clearly how they make the game better. Having fellow assassins that you can call on can be great when you want to cut down the hard graft or even the odds, and sending them off on missions around Europe makes for a fun diversion into dumbed-down strategy. You can do more from horseback, making equine travel an effective and even murderous way to get around the city, while new gadgets such as the poison darts and parachute put some interesting new options at your disposal.
Witnessing the refinement of the AC formula, its decline is also visible in Revelations. Of course movement, combat and even visual fidelity get a face lift. The feeling that too much is being added starts creeping in by the time Revelations rolls out. Decidedly, Revelations is a good game, even under-appreciated because of the time it was released. But you can see what went wrong in the next Assassin’s Creed game, as Ubisoft kept on adding mechanics for the sake of it.