We have been discussing some of the history of the first person shooting genre as of late on Fallback. While there are others still to explore, a recent event has changed my plan this week. Mainly, the announcement and preview of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. After that glimpse into the next chapter of the impressive Assassins Creed saga, it seemed like a good time to revisit the game that started it all. For that reason, I bring you the original AC, UbiSoft Montreal’s Assassin’s Creed.
Discovering the Assassin’s Way
This was one of the first games I purchased for my long dead PlayStation 3. I had no idea what the game was about when I selected it but it looked intriguing. What with its impressive graphics, immersive gameplay, and the opportunity to take swan dives from the tops of tall towers. And he does it with such style. I had to try it.
As I got started and made progress through the game, my niece happened to see it. Not to watch my impressive fighting skills, or anything like that. (Mainly because I didn’t HAVE any). What she noticed was the game allowed you to ride horses and attack random people with a sword. FINALLY…a game that UNDERSTOOD her. It was while she started coming over to my house to commandeer my Assassin’s Creed that I purchased the PC version. Fortunately, my PC was muscled enough that the differences between the two was negligible. So while she rode about the countryside, waylaying people with her sword, I too could get about the business of helping Altair (Desmond) kick some Knights Templar behind.
Assassin’s Creed was developed by Ubisoft Montreal. The game was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in November of 2007 and was made available on Microsoft Windows in April 2008. It was originally going to be a follow-up to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. However, as the game developers at UbiSoft continued to work on the game, they started leaning in another direction. They wanted to create an open world where players could move about freely as they progressed. The story took its tone based on the novel Alamut by Vladimir Bartol. Eventually, it’s name was changed to Assassins Creed.
The plot of the game is set in a fictional history of real-world events and locations. The story follows the centuries-old struggle between two ancient sects. The Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The action primarily takes place during the Third Crusade in the Holy Land in 1191, (at least while in the Animus), with the plot revolving around the Secret Order of Assassins.
The gamer is, in reality, playing as a modern-day man named Desmond Miles. He (You) are captured and through the use of a machine named the “Animus”, is allowed the viewing and controlling of Desmond’s genetic memories of his ancestor. How this works is unknown but it allows the player control of Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, a member of the Assassins. Through Altair’s journeys (memories) details begin to emerge of a struggle between the Knights Templar and the Assassins. The main conflict is over an artifact known as the “Apple of Eden.” This is an ancient artifact used to control minds. Both sides want control of it. Such is the fuel that such conflicts are made.
Assassin’s Creed is an action/stealth/ adventure hybrid set in an open world environment. It is played from the third-person perspective. The player primarily assumes the role of Altaïr, as experienced by the games protagonist Desmond Miles. The primary goal of the game is to carry out a series of assassinations ordered by Al Mualim, the leader of the Assassins. This is necessary due to a blunder by Altair where his failure to follow the tenants of the Assassins earns him a demotion. Now he must proceed to cross off the list of men given to him by Mualim. For the player to accomplish this task, he must travel from the Brotherhood’s headquarters in Masyaf, across the terrain of the Holy Land known as the Kingdom to one of three cities: Jerusalem, Acre, or Damascus. There the player must locate the Brotherhood agent in that city.
An Assassin’s Job has many Parts
Once found, the agent, will provide a safe house, and supply the player some minimal knowledge about their intended target. In addition, the agent will require them to perform additional reconnaissance missions before attempting the assassination. He’s not going to make it easy for Altair by supplying all he needs to know. These missions may include eavesdropping, interrogation, and pickpocketing. (Ah yes, the Assassin’s tool kit). It’s also possible that it may require completing tasks for other informers and fellow Assassins. Don’t complain, you have been bad. This is a punishment.
If that isn’t enough, the player has the opportunity to take part in any number of side objectives. Including, climbing tall towers to map out the city and saving citizens who are being threatened or harassed by the city guards. Just be careful not to harm innocents or to make too much of a ruckus. It doesn’t take much to get attention in a crowded city. Once that happens it become necessary to either fight, or hide. This is usually accomplished by hiding in a hay cart or rooftop or other such manly pursuits. Once the player has gotten out of “line of sight,” he can continue on.
There are also various “additional memories” that do not advance the plot, such as hunting down and killing Templars and flag collecting. Upon completing each assassination, the player is returned to the Brotherhood and rewarded with a better weapon and/or upgrade before going after the next target or given another set of targets, with the player free to select the order of those targets. This freedom is one of the many positives of Assassin’s Creed.
I’ve fallen and I need to get up
So what happens when fighting is necessary and damage is taken? The player’s health is described as the level of “Synchronization” between Desmond and Altaïr’s memories. So should Altaïr suffer injury, it is represented as deviation from the actual events of the memory. (So It’s like: Funny…I don’t REMEMBER getting killed here). This is rather than physical damage. The effect is the same. If for some reason, all synchronization is lost, the current memory that Desmond is experiencing will be restarted at the last checkpoint. This might mean having to repeat certain events. Dang!
On the plus side, when the synchronization bar is full, the player has the additional option to use “Eagle Vision.” (Go-Go Gadget EYES!) This allows the computer-rendered memory to highlight all visible characters in colors corresponding to their status. Blue for allies, Red for foes, White for neutral, or Gold for the target of their assassination. However, due to Altaïr’s memories being rendered by the computer of the Animus project, the player may experience “glitches” in the rendering of the historical world. When this happens, it may help the player to identify targets. In addition, it can be used to alter the viewpoint during an in-game scripted scene. This, however, requires that the player react fast enough when they appear. So it is a skill function.
Learning the Truth
As the game progresses, and as Altaïr eliminates each target, he learns more. He slowly is informed that all nine of his intended victims are secretly members of the Templar Order. That together, they were conspiring to locate an “Apple of Eden”, which is a relic of a long-forgotten civilization. It is said to possess god-like powers.
One of those to be assassinated was Robert de Sablé. He was the grandmaster of the Templars, which is the ancient enemies of the Brotherhood of Assassins. It is during this attempt on Robert’s life at a funeral in Jerusalem, that Altaïr discovers Maria, a young Templar agent, had disguised herself as him. This was in order to buy enough time for Robert to negotiate an alliance between the Crusaders and Saracens against the Assassins. After catching her and learning this, he spares her life. Altaïr then catches up to Robert in the camp of King Richard I and exposes his crimes.
Trial by Combat
Richard, for his part, is uncertain of whom to believe. Because of this, Richard suggests a one-on-one duel to decide the truth. A sort of trial by combat scenario, remarking that God will decide the victor. Robert confesses that he did not act alone, after he sustains a mortal wound from Altaïr. He reveals that Al Mualim himself had also sought the Apple. He betrayed the Assassins in pursuit of that cause.
Facing his Mentor
Returning once again to Masyaf, Altaïr finds both the Cities inhabitants and his fellowAssassins under the control of the artifact. It’s power now held by Al Mualim. Realizing the danger, Altaïr storms the citadel and confronts his mentor in the gardens. This battle includes several Assassins brought in for support. Al Mualim uses the Apple to conjure up illusions, trying to avoid having to resort to single combat. During the ensuing battle, Altaïr stabs him with his blade and tries to destroy the Apple, but instead unlocks a secret map within the device. It reveals the location of countless other Pieces of Eden around the world.
Not the End
With the trials complete, It is revealed that Abstergo is the modern incarnation of the Templars. His assistant Lucy, turns out to be a mole planted by the modern-day Assassins. Her whereabouts are unknown. However, while awaiting her return, Desmond stares at his walks to discovers strange drawings covering them. These drawings seems to foretell a catastrophic event. One that will wipe out humanity. What that is must wait until Assassins Creed 2.
Reactions to Assassins Creed were mostly positive. Especially for the console versions of the game. The PC game held it’s own but the controls of the console versions were more intuitive. It’s popularity has spawned a large number of follow up games, visiting different times and cultures. From the American Revolution, to Pirates, and now Vikings. Each games is slightly different but still follows the tried and true Assassins Creed DNA. As for the original, it won many awards for its console versions and was considered the game of the year by some publications. From what I’ve seen I’m looking forward to this new chapter. It kind of has a God of War/Game Of Thrones vibe to it.
Have you played the Original Assassins Creed? What did you like about it and what did you feel needed some improvement? Have they gotten it right in the various following chapters? Share your feelings about the Assassins Creed Saga with us at GeekVibesNation.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 17 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.