Oh, Assassin’s Creed, the little series that could. What started as an ambitious open-world stealth game from Ubisoft has, against all odds, blossomed into a multi-million selling annual franchise that can go toe-to-toe with the big AAA shooters that typically dominate October and November. Let’s not forget that it also has stretched far beyond what its original creators ever intended.
I mean, do you remember playing the first game, a stealth action title that revolved around creating social chaos to hide your murders, thinking “Man, this series could really use some explosive navel battles.” Because all stealth games need to put players in control of the noisiest, most chaotic form of human warfare.
Sometimes, Assassin’s Creed’s innovations worked, like said naval battles in Assassin’s Creed III and IV, and other times it has come up just plain flat, like companion apps and tower defense modes. Ubisoft’s grand vision has morphed into a bigger everything-but-the-kitchen-sink than even Grand Theft Auto, and its attempts to squeeze everything into a single game lost me after just two entries.
It’s a stealth game! It’s an open-world RPG! It’s an action game. It’s a platformer. It’s a pirate warfare simulator. It’s a dull protagonist simulator (ugh, Desmond)! It’s getting turned off because I just don’t have time for this anymore. Admittedly, I really do want to try Black Flag one day since it seems to be the genuine fan-favorite that they got right, but that time has not yet come.
More so than the gameplay though, I’ve always enjoyed Assassin’s Creed’s sense of style. The whole white hood thing might be a generic look that everyone rips off of these days, but we forget how refreshing it truly was back when we had nothing but masked space marines highlighting our holiday.
Kudos to Ubisoft’s artists for making it work throughout other stages of history as well. It’s kind of like Star Wars in a way, where the earthen colored robes of Tatooine’s moisture farmers, designed to protect them from the two suns, would eventually become “Jedi robes” because that’s just what Obi-wan, Luke… and Uncle Owen wear.
Assassin’s Creed’s white robes make sense in the sunny Middle East, but nobody in Italy, France, England, or even China could wear such an outlandish getup without causing a certain level of suspicion. Thanks to this constant sense of style though, Ubisoft has made the practical and casual Middle Eastern style a unified wardrobe of the assassins.
With that, we’ll take a quick look at how this series has evolved from a single sci-fi mind-trip back to the Middle East to a blast throughout history. We have Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Assassin’s Creed III, Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, Assassin’s Creed Rogue, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles, and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
Wow, you might as well just call your game Assassin’s Creed Generic Subtitle. Sorry, I left out the Nintendo DS and PSP games because that’s something Ubisoft, and AAA Western developers in general, just don’t really get.
What’s your favorite based solely on the looks? I still have a soft spot for the genuine and innocent feel of the first one back before it became what it is today.
Editor’s note: The series peaked at Brotherhood as far as I’m concerned. – Joey