By: Sarah White
I recently found myself missing the many aspects of Assassin’s Creed that made me fall in love with the game–particularly Assassin’s Creed II. I went to my friendly neighborhood EB Games and picked up Assassin’s Creed Unity for under $20, so even if the game wasn’t great it was probably a good source of entertainment for $20. I wasn’t more than an hour into the game and I found myself very annoyed for a multitude of reasons. First of all, I found the free running controls very uncomfortable and choppy, there was nothing seamless about it even though earlier games had it nailed down. But this isn’t a review of Assassin’s Creed Unity.
There has been something substantial lacking from the series after the Ezio trilogy – Assassins Creed II, Brotherhood and Revelations, and even the later installments of that trilogy in my mind were lacking the fundamentals that made their predecessor so great. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all three games and even Assassin’s Creed III and what I’ve played so far of Unity, but there is something that just doesn’t sit with me right with this series anymore. Let’s start from the beginning.
With the release of Assassin’s Creed, the first installment in this ever growing series which seems as though it will never end, promised a new twist to modern day gaming as well as an original plot and movement system. Not many games dealt with this “parkour” or “free-running” style of open world exploration before the series introduced it. However, the game fell short with its redundant gameplay and blandness. The early time period, the late 1100s, caused many in game locations to look strikingly similar and dull—it was just a lot of beige. Seriously, so much beige. To be honest, the receptiveness of the missions stopped me from actually finishing the game but rather to settle for the Wikipedia summary before moving on to the sequel.
Assassin’s Creed II delivered everything that the first installment could not. I love this game; it was probably the first game that I attempted to 100% complete. This storyline was riveting – the provided background story for Ezio Auditore da Firenze set him up to be a wonderfully dynamic character that was full of humour and general badassery, who we get to follow through his journey of trying to avenge his family. The missions held true to what the original game was trying to accomplish with the numerous stealth missions, which were innovative and fun and seemed to fix the redundancy issues that the first game had with them. The scenery, setting and time period set for this game was nothing short of perfect.
Now here is where the problems with the series started to arise for me – first of all the fact that they chose not to leave Assassin’s Creed II as a standalone game. I understand why they continued Ezio’s story, money – obviously. But I felt as I played through Brotherhood and Revelations it ruined many of the aspects of the character I had grown to love. They were fun games, even if they were a cash grab, but they were both very unnecessary. Brotherhood seemed like the exact same game as Assassin’s Creed II with a lack luster plot, while Revelations tried to focus on more of Ezio’s character development even if he was pushing 60 and really shouldn’t have been running around like a spry 20-year-old assassin. Somewhere between these two games the science fantasy element of the series regarding the Pieces of Eden seemed a bit… much. The way they handled it in the first two games was tasteful, but in these installments it was relied on too heavily and for me, it took away from the core aspect of the game.
With the third game, Assassin’s Creed III as well as Assassin’s Creed Unity, my first and probably biggest drawback was the time period they chose. The American and French Revolutions seemed like a far stretch and unusual time period for games that were previously set in the 12th and 15th century – probably because the later games in the series dealt with the addition of firearms which to me, do not belong in an Assassin’s Creed game. Regardless of this, after Assassin’s Creed 3 where Desmond’s story finishes, the games all blurred together for me as they became continually more disconnected from the first game.
The games are no longer providing anything or enhancing the original storyline set in place by the first four games. They are now just games that follow the same recipe – free running and hidden blades. In my opinion, regardless of how much I enjoy playing Unity, the game developers should have taken a step back after Assassin’s Creed III to find a good closure for the series and quit while they were ahead. Again, I understand why they didn’t do this it always comes back to money.
With every new game they release, for me it feels like they are taking away from the core fundamentals of the series. This makes me really sad because I used to really enjoy this series. I will probably continue to play Assassin’s Creed games in the future but they won’t be the same as they used to be. Sometimes I hate to love these games and other times I love to hate them.