My Love/Hate Relationship with Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed Cast by thn.com

I hated the entire Assassin’s Creed series until the world premiere trailer for Assassin’s Creed Unity was shown at E3; I was very surprised. The idea of roaming an entire city with a group of friends sounds like a dream come true (the real dream would be 4-player-split-screen, but we all know that will never happen). That first trailer intrigued me enough that I wanted to revisit the series. Long nights of Assassin’s Creed-peida and video story arcs kept me up until 2 a.m. some nights. After surveying the series, I came to a conclusion: I will give one game in the series a try before purchasing Assassin’s Creed Unity.

One thing I will point out before you heavily invest in this blog post is that this piece is not about the recent exposure Assassin’s Creed Unity is receiving. The astronomical amounts of press coverage when it comes to women in video games is astonishing, but I do not want to cover that today. I will rather show you a man who hated the entire Assassin’s Creed series, but through countless hours of research and entertainment, now adores it.

Once upon a time in 2007, a historical fiction action-adventure game that involved stealth, story and badass graphics debuted. I remember watching the first Assassin’s Creed trailer; boy, did it blow my mind. I could not believe that this new franchise is the next big thing. I was not heavily involved in many stealth games (the Metal Gear Solid series was in my sights, but I wanted something new and fresh), but Assassin’s Creed looked like a game that was giving me something that I never knew I wanted. The worst was yet to come: it was the game that I never wanted.

Desmond Miles by Gamerperspective.com

Enter Desmond Miles and Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad. Assassin’s Creed started strong. Desmond was captured by Abstergo and forced to enter into the Amnius to explore the momentous Third Crusade. The struggle between the Assassin’s and Templars sounded great at first. Roaming around in the cities felt like nothing I have ever experienced. The free-running felt fluid and the combat was simple. The only decent free-runner I played before Assassin’s Creed was Mirror’s Edge, but at least that had a better story and character. I realized at the very beginning of the game that I hated both Desmond and Altaïr.

Desmond complained more than any character I have seen in a video game. He was arrogant, needy and came off as foolish. The game was very vague about Desmond being captured and he never once stood up for himself. Sure, if I was kidnapped, I would be intrigued about experiencing someone else’s past through the Animus, but once I realized what was going on, I would have done everything in my power to get the hell out of there. Desmond was more focused on experience life through Altaïr than caring about his own. I am positive security was tight in the facility that locked up Desmond, but I hated how there was nothing I could do to except listen to him complain and enter into the Animus; the single player experiences when you control Desmond was the absolute worst.

Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad by MoviePilot.com

Now, Altaïr was entirely different. He was headstrong and egotistical. If I told him a barn was on fire with Templars who had families inside, he would most likely not listen and wave me off. As Jesse Schedeen said on IGN when they polled their readers about the most overrated video game characters, “Altaïr is like a poor man’s Prince of Persia.” I understand that Altaïr was trying to be a rebel and do what he thought was right, but I hated how he came off during dialog scenes. Each time he spoke, I wanted to throw him off a building, hoping he would change his ways.

While I hated the two main characters of Assassin’s Creed, the worst part was the missions; I hated how repetitive this game was. Go do this mission, then do this same exact mission with more or less guards. Sneak around, blend into the robotic crowd, kill this historical figure, sprint away and hide or kill hundreds of guards, rinse and repeat. Also, I remember looking for the millions of flags and I hated how they meant nothing. Those flags still give me nightmares; so many flags.

I finished the game after struggling with the boring story and mundane missions. After I played it, I thought the games could get better after that. I tried to play Assassin’s Creed 2, but thought it was too repetitive for my taste as well (I understand some people consider this game the best in the entire series, but I also hated Ezio Auditore da Firenze; I have a real problem connecting with these characters within the Assassin’s Creed series).

Every game after Assassin’s Creed was spoiled for me. I was normally at a friend’s house and they were at the very end of the game each time. I decided to watch, it was not like I was ever going to play them. Each ending sounded worst from the last, everything was too farfetched. Throughout the years, I claimed that the entire Assassin’s Creed series was crap. However, something changed when pirates came aboard (pun intended).

I remember seeing the preview for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. I thought it looked exciting and different from the entire series. The gameplay actually looked fun. Sailing the high seas looked beautiful and daring, random encounters with whales and other ships, too good to be true again like the first Assassin’s Creed. It was not until recently that I decided to take the plunge into another Assassin’s Creed game and I am glad I did.

Before I started Assassin’s Creed IV, I researched the entire backstory. I read about the hundreds of games that featured Ezio, Subject 16, the huge plot twist with the triple agent, and even Ratonhnhaké:ton (aka Connor). While doing the research, I found out that I finally had a character in the Assassin’s Creed series that I loved: Connor’s father, Haytham Kenway.

Haytham Kenway by IGN.com

Haytham sounded like the most interesting character in the entire series. Not only was he a secondary antagonistic that you were able to play as, but he had a meaningful life. He found love with a local Native Americans that he saved, which gave us Connor. Plus, I saw him like a double edge sword, he could have been either an Assassin or Templar. This family man persona helped me connect with him and I actually cared about the outcome of his consequences. The more the story progressed, it sounded like you knew that he and Connor would have to sort out their issues, which made for an excellent relationship between them. Also, I enjoyed a video that discussed the book called “Forsaken,” which featured Haytham’s first-person account of his life. In my opinion, he should have been the main character in Assassin’s Creed III. One reason I wanted to try out the next installment was because it involved Haytham’s father.

After all the endless nights, the research was done. Finally, I was interested in the complete Assassin’s Creed story arc. Everything that led up to Assassin’s Creed VI sounded interesting and I did not have to sit through three characters that were in nearly in every game that I loathed. I recently bought a Wii U and looked at the sales for the week. To my surprise, Assassin’s Creed IV was on sale; instant buy.

The gameplay was top notch in Assassin’s Creed IV. When I was behind the helm, I felt like I was on an adventure. I never knew what I would find and lose myself in the beautiful Shanties. Each time I saw an enemy ship, there was a good chance I would do everything in my power to board ship and take as my own. Not only was the gameplay superb, but I really enjoyed the missions (except the one’s where you had to tail a person). I liked some of the missions so much that I used Ubisoft’s rating system even though they are probably not tracking anymore. Thankfully, the game had my second favorite character in the series: Edward Kenway.

Edward Kenway by IGN.com

Edward was easily relate-able and had many hardships that created an excellent character. His main goal was finding himself, which created a decent story where you see man vs. self flourish. The story’s pacing was very slow, but I still enjoyed it. Before Edward could live with himself, he needed to understand the meaning of life and others lives that could be affected by his actions. The conclusion showed me a man not living with regrets and caring about riches, but a man who knew how to take responsibility for himself and his daughter.

The more and more time I invested into Assassin’s Creed IV, the more I was interested in the story elements revolving around the Assassin’s Creed series. Every time I hacked a computer, I observed every video and read all the text which revealed a behind-the-scenes story that captivated me. One problem though: the game created more questions than answers. I wanted to know more about Subject Zero and possibly see a video that revealed some of the testing. Another random question was looming around in my head: Who is on Eve’s side of the ancestry? And what was the real reason why I was gathering all this information for the Assassins?

After the ending, I was astonished. I had way too many questions that needed answers. While this did not ruin the game for me, it made me more excited to play Assassin’s Creed Unity. It is right around the corner and everyone should be excited to see it being on the new, current generation of systems (Xbox One and Playstation 4, plus the superior PC version). Ubisoft released a handful of trailers that were great at first, but the most recent trailer made me upset.

The newest trailer was a tease. It showed everyone a decapitation, a revolt within the beauty of computer graphics (CG) scenes. While it looked great, I was left wondering where my story elements were. I want to know how the story is going to progress and not watch gameplay or CG scenes. I know Ubisoft has the story trailer in their grasp, but this teasing in video games needs to stop. It nearly ruins the game before it has even been released. People are left wanting, hoping, urging for something tangible, yet they will continue playing up the negatives in those games that are teased (such as the women in Assassin’s Creed and violence).

Assassin’s Creed Unity is not far from release. However, I want to know about the story right now. It is strange that if I was ten years younger, I would not care about a story trailer. I would want a gameplay trailer and lots of killing. It makes me think that Ubisoft is trying to appeal to a younger audience, and the older I get, the more I care about story and gameplay both. Luckily, the entire Assassin’s Creed series has progressed into something that I truly love. I will not let the newest trailers deter me from wanting the next installment in the series. Instead, I will count down the days until the game releases and accept all news about Assassin’s Creed Unity with a grain of salt.

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