Assassins Creed: Where has it all gone wrong?

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The Beginning /Sequence 1

The first Assassins Creed game (2007) could be considered to be one of only a handful of games that has defined our generation. It revolutionized gaming with it’s unique Middle Eastern setting, the social stealth concept and even the combat. The narrative explored themes of politics, morality, race and wealth, interwoven with beautifully recreated cities of Jerusalem and Damascus among others. Even the music added to the feeling that you actually were an Assassin (Altair), and while most games are entertaining, very few make you feel real appreciation for the effort put in. The only other games I can think of that do this on a universal scale, in my opinion, is the Batman: Arkham series and of course GTA

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Glory Days / Sequences 2-4

Assassins Creed II (2009) took the franchise several steps further in the right direction and was nothing less than a masterpiece. Set in Renaissance Italy, and with improvements to the size of the map and gameplay (stealth, shops, disarming of opponents etc), as well as a more varied mission structure, Assassins Creed II also arguably produced one of the best gaming protagonists of all time in Ezio Auditore da Firenze with a story of betrayal, loss of life and his quest for vengeance it is easy to sympathize with him, as we follow him along his journey.

Sticking with Ezio, granting many fans wishes, Ubisoft’s next game in the franchise was Brotherhood, followed by Revelations, which concluded Ezio’s  three game story arc. Brotherhood (2010) achieved critical acclaim and was a welcome addition to the series, as well as including multiplayer for the first time ever in the series. Revelations (2011) concluded the ‘Ezio Trilogy’ but to many was a let down in comparison to previous games, although it was praised for its story-telling, and the ending of the stories of Altair and Ezio. Many critics felt that this game was simply released to keep fans going for what was promised to be the best Assassins Creed game yet in: Assassins Creed III (2012).

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Twighlight Years? / Sequence 5 – Future

While Assassins Creed III did a lot of things right, such as its opening missions, its new hunting mechanics, as well as the setting (American Revolution), I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that to this day, I have still not completed the game. In my opinion, the world was simply too big, and the game did not feel as immersive as previous installments; I felt as if I was playing a game, not actually a part of the world Ubisoft had created. I didn’t really care too much about the new Assassin Connor, and a lot of the missions felt repetitive and even boring at times. The size of the map meant that when moving from areas through the wilderness, I felt I was running/riding for ages, as fast tracks are not immediately unlocked. With all the hype around this game, I honestly expected more. Personally I am not a big fan of the ship mechanics, which meant that I did not end up purchasing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

So where has it all gone wrong? For starters, Desmond’s story has become irrelevant, with most of us only rushing through it to get back to the era in which his ancestor’s memory is set (so it’s a good thing we no longer have to play as him in future installments). Also, while the original Assassin’s Creed game was built upon the concept of freedom, more recent titles seem to feed the player too much, not allowing us to explore what we can and can’t do for ourselves. Through it’s constant in-game updates and pointers, the series has slowly lost its organic feel. In my opinion, Assassin’s Creed games now feel more like a job, with a set of tick boxes players have to complete.

While it is fair to say Assassin’s Creed has it spot on with its storylines, worlds and characters, it has been the execution of these components in the most recent installments which  have jeopardized the future of the series.

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