Back in 2007, Ubisoft released an awe-inspiring new game with large open world environments and a fantastically exciting assassination focus, reminiscent of the PSone classic ninja game, Tenchu. 6 years and 5 games later, the Assassin’s Creed series has become one of the most recognisable and celebrated franchises in the entire gaming world.
With the fourth game in the series now announced for an October 2013 release, I take a look back at the Assassin’s Creed franchise and try to pinpoint just what is that people love so much.
Having gone back over the earlier games, you suddenly realise how far the developers have come – even given that in its day the original was pretty ground breaking. One of the main aspects that makes the series stand out has always been the freedom of being able to go pretty much anywhere and climb anything.
This has admittedly had its problems in the past with player intentions being misinterpreted through the controls, and some of these issues are still apparent in the more recent titles, despite Assassin’s Creed III featuring a far more fluid system. Regardless, there’s typically a true sense of achievement and awe when you manage to conquer an incredibly difficult climbing segment – not to mention the thrill of throwing yourself off into the nearest haystack.
Another aspect that people love is the painstaking attention to detail and the historical accuracy whilst intricately interweaving an entirely fictional storyline of the order of Assassins and their centuries of battle against the Templars bent on world domination. Players are taken from the 12th century middle east, through renaissance Europe and eventually to civil war America, visiting strikingly accurate recreations of real world cities and towns.
Each location features an entire textbook of information about individual buildings and people that can be optionally read for even greater immersion. I’ve got to say I feel like I’ve learnt a hell of a lot about history that I would never have known otherwise and I think that a lot of other fans of the series would agree.
But while the innovative movement systems and fascinating detail make the series stand out, it really is the stealthy killing components of the games that define them. Unfortunately, the combat mechanics have usually suffered by being a little too easy, but the lack of difficulty has never stopped them being fun – pretty much the most integral part of a video games success.
The gradual introduction of more weapon types and gadgetry for murder throughout the series has kept the fighting system fresh and given players many different styles to choose from. Since giving the player such a wide and diverse variety of choices seems to be such a hugely important feature of modern games, I feel that this has been a defining point in the series continued success.
That said, the series did start to complicate itself somewhat with the introduction of some new additional gameplay components such as crafting, faction building and the often heavily criticised tower defence – none of which I felt did very much to improve the core gameplay experience and often left me feeling like they detracted from the joys of being an assassin.
There’s always been plenty to do in the Assassin’s Creed games but I always felt that these were unnecessary additions without that didn’t really offer any noticeable impact on the player experience. Some of this was left behind this year with Assassin’s Creed III which marked a return to focusing on fully fleshed out core missions and some new (and frankly brilliant) side missions – especially the naval battles.
Speaking of sea warfare, this brings me nicely to the newly announced Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, in which players will take on the role of pirate, Edward Kenway! The visuals we’ve seen so far look amazing and the maritime focus will be fantastic if Assassin’s Creed IIIs naval missions are anything to go by. And in case I didn’t emphasise the awesomeness of this enough, you get to play as a pirate!
I’m pretty darn excited about the future of Assassin’s Creed. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag looks to be taking the series in a great direction and all Ubisoft need to do now is make a title set in Japan with a ninja assassin character and they’ll have completed many gamers dream franchise. Depending on the success of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, who knows where the series will go next, but you can bet gamers will be waiting with baited breath.
For more information about Assassin’s Creed, check out our Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Just The Facts and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Introducing Edward Kenway feature articles.