Assassin’s Creed is one of my favourite game series and has had a (mostly) consistent high quality level throughout its many, many games. As the series is now set to take a much needed breather I figured now would be a good time to quickly put my thoughts down on the series thus far.
Assassin’s Creed (2007)
The original Assassin’s Creed game came out in late 2007 and while it received somewhat mixed reviews overall it was praised for its potential and for setting the framework from which all subsequent Assassin’s Creed games would follow. This includes meeting many historical figures such as Robert de Sablé, Rashid ad-Din Sinan, and Richard I of England.
Throughout this game you’ll play as assassin Altaïr during the time of the third crusades. It also introduces main-series protagonist Desmond Miles who is kidnapped by evil corporation Abstergo Industries and forced to replay his ancestors “genetic memories” in order to reveal the location of ancient hidden powerful objects. For those who no nothing about the series Desmond is decedent from many who belonged to the Assassin order, thus the name of the game, who have being fighting a never ending battle against the Templars (modern day Abstergo) throughout time. Using a special machine they can ‘go back in time’ and replay things that have happened but are still somehow embedded in his DNA. Yeah it doesn’t make much sense but hey it works for the game.
From what I remember of playing the original game, it has been a long time since then, I really enjoyed the plot and game mechanics but found it to be a little repetitive (which is still an issue in the series today). Unfortunately I’m not sure this game would still hold up today as a result of its age and if you want to get into the series now you may be better off reading the plot of this game and starting with the next one. Still at the time this game came out it was unlike any other open world before it and being able to climb on almost anything while the crowd responded to your actions was simply amazing.
Assassin’s Creed II (2009)
Assassin’s Creed II and its related entries (Brotherhood and Revelations) represent, for me at least, the pinnacle of the series. This is where the series got so good at introducing new mechanics while refining the existing ones that every new entry was legitimately better than the last.
Unlike the first game this one has you playing as an entirely different assassin, Ezio, during the 15th century renaissance in Italy. This game, like the first, continues the tradition of meeting historical figures including: Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolò Machiavelli, Caterina Sforza, Bartolomeo d’Alviano, Lorenzo de’ Medici, the Pazzi family, the Barbarigo family and Pope Alexander VI.
If you’re looking to start playing through the Assassin’s Creed series today this is where I would recommend you start.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (2010)
Brotherhood is the second entry in the Assassin’s Creed II series and also marks the beginning of the yearly release for the series. Thankfully at this point in the series history each entry was still improving and while Brotherhood felt like nothing more than an expansion for Assassin’s Creed II, it was still packed with quite a bit of fun.
The ability to ride horses, absent in Assassin’s Creed II, was re-introduced in this game and a new ability to play in modern times, basically whenever you wanted, added a different style of gameplay. Additionally the player can now recruit followers to help in tough situations which can make some of the harder missions a bit easier. Brotherhood was also the first time an Assassin’s Creed game had a multiplayer component, although to be honest I’ve never been a fan of it (in any game in the series).
With unique, interesting and really fun platforming puzzles Brotherhood is one of the most fun games in the series.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (2011)
Revelations is the final installment in the Assassin’s Creed II series of games. While this is a bit of a weaker entry than Brotherhood it is still a great game and a good conclusion to Ezio’s story.
Picking up after Brotherhood, Revelations continues all the way into Ezio’s later life and actually has you going back to locations not featured since the original game in the series. New gameplay additions include a fun little tower defense like mini-game (shown in the screenshot above) above and a hook blade zip-line mechanic.
Like Brotherhood I remember this game also having a number of really well designed puzzles, something that didn’t really continue much past this entry. However I think I enjoyed this game most for the conclusion to the story arch that they started in Assassin’s Creed II.
Assassin’s Creed III (2012)
Assassin’s Creed III, as the name would suggest, is the next big installment in the series and the first time a new playable assassin was introduced since Assassin’s Creed II: Ratonhnhaké:ton, a Mohawk warrior who also goes by the name Connor. Sigh… unfortunately this is where the series hit it’s first real low point. I wanted to love this game, I really did, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The plot was interesting (it even had a surprise starting that no one saw coming!) but the game was so unbelievably buggy that it was just a frustrating experience overall.
The major new mechanic introduced in this game was the ability to climb and run through natural structures like trees. Sadly the new mechanic is also where the majority of the game’s bugs came from and so it’s a bit of a mix blessing overall. Crafting new items, using materials collected from hunted animals, was added as was the ability to use enemies as human shields. This was also the first entry in the series to allow you to sail a ship was admittedly was very fun.
It’s not that this was necessarily a bad game, it was just a bag game for the Assassin’s Creed series which was riding so high at the time. Where previous main characters were either bad ass (Altaïr) or extremely well developed and interesting (Ezio), Connor was just a flat, boring mono-toned generic protagonist… To be fair I guess I did enjoy the fictionalized American Revolution setting and hey who doesn’t want to meet historical giants like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin among others. I just wish it was a better Assassin’s Creed game, especially as this ends the major chapter involving Desmond.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013)
Black Flag is a spectacular game. All of the bugs that were introduced in Assassin’s Creed III were fixed and all of the fun parts, the sailing in particular, were greatly expanded upon. The settings and characters are interesting, the gameplay is lots of fun and even the stupid freemium styled cargo ship mini-game is highly addictive. Overall this is probably the most fun game in the series… sadly it just isn’t a true Assassin’s Creed game.
Black Flag puts you in the shoes (sandals?) of pirate Edward Kenway as you navigate the waters around great cities like Havana, Kingston, and Nassau. Ship sailing is a huge part of this game but new features also include whaling and diving for sunken treasure.
So if this game is so well crafted why do I not consider it the best game in the series? Simply because the overall “Assassin’s Creed” related plot is laughable. After the events of Assassin’s Creed III there was basically no real reason for the series to continue as it was (other than to make more money for Ubisoft) and so here we go with a silly plot that tries to create a reason for another game in the series but utterly fails at it. So while this may be the most fun single game in the series I still maintain that the Assassin’s Creed II series is the best part of the Assassin’s Creed series of games overall. This is simply an excellent pirate game that happens to have the Assassin’s Creed name.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue (2014)
Talk about a cash grab… Assassin’s Creed Rogue places you in the shoes of Templar Shay Patrick Cormac, he’s Irish if you couldn’t tell, who hunts down Assassins. This is one of the shortest games in the series but being largely based on Assassin’s Creed IV: Blag Flag it isn’t all bad.
Seriously this is just Black Flag in the winter time. The majority of the new features are just upgrades to the ships found in Black Flag, although they did add a nifty new ‘air gun’.
If you couldn’t tell from my short descriptions of the game above this isn’t the best entry in the series. Still if you really like Assassin’s Creed, or even just Black Flag, this isn’t a bad way to kill a couple of hours.
Assassin’s Creed Unity (2014)
The next major entry in the series and the first on next generation consoles was Assassin’s Creed Unity. Taking place in Paris during the French Revolution this game lets you control Arno, an adopted child who slowly gains rank in the Assassin order.
Being designed for the new consoles this game does look beautiful and has by far the largest crowds in any game in the series. But… things aren’t all good. For example this is what happens when it starts going all buggy…
Performance was also a mixed bag with the game running super sluggish when it first released. But hey again you get to meet interesting characters like Marquis de Sade and Napoleon Bonaparte which is cool. This game also introduced 4 player online co-op which was sort of interesting but never really anything special.
Overall this is another decent game in the series, just nothing revolutionary and certainly not a good Assassin’s Creed game. This game suffers from another “who cares?” plot that doesn’t advance the overall series any further than it was during Black Flag.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (2015)
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is the most recent game in the series to be released (as of this writing). It appears as though the developer decided that after the buggy launch of Assassin’s Creed Unity they should cut back on non-essential features and focus on just the core gameplay. While they certainly succeed in this goal, the game is not nearly as buggy as Unity, it also suffers from having very little real plot.
There is no multiplayer in this game and no interaction with any sort of tablet App, which Unity had, however I think these omissions are good things. Instead you get two different main characters, Jacob and Evie Frye, to play as in the streets of Victorian era London. Game performance is also much improved and there are a few neat other additions like the ability to hijack horse-drawn carriages and trains or using a zip-line to quickly navigate the rooftops.
This game is absolutely full of famous historical figures. Just look at this list: Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Alexander Graham Bell, Karl Marx, Florence Nightingale, Duleep Singh, Frederick Abberline and even Queen Victoria!
All told this game is very similar to what was done in Unity but doesn’t quite hit the high fun mark that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag did. So a good, fun, waste of time but again not a really good game for the series.