November 13, 2007
Assassin's Creed is an action-adventurevideo game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the first installment in the Assassin's Creed series. The game was released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in November 2007, and was made available on Microsoft Windows in April 2008.
The plot is set in a fictional history of real world events and follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The game primarily takes place during the Third Crusade in the Holy Land in 1191, with the plot revolving around the Secret Order of Assassins, based upon the Hashshashin sect. The player is in reality playing as a modern-day man named Desmond Miles, who, through the use of a machine named the "Animus", is allowed the viewing and controlling of the protagonist's genetic memories of his ancestors, in this case, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, a member of the Assassins. Through this plot device, details emerge of a struggle between two factions: the Knights Templar and the Assassins, over an artifact known as the "Apple of Eden", an ancient artifact used to control minds.
The game received generally positive reviews, with critics praising its storytelling, visuals, art design and originality, although the game was also criticized for the repetitive nature of its gameplay. Assassin's Creed won several awards at E3 in 2006, as well as several end-year awards after its release. The game spawned a sequel, Assassin's Creed II, which was released in November 2009. Since the release and success of Assassin's Creed II, subsequent games have been released, with various other Assassins and time periods.
Assassin's Creed is an action-adventure game set in an open world environment and played from a third-person perspective in which the player primarily assumes the role of Altaïr, as experienced by 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. To achieve this goal, the player 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—to find the Brotherhood agent in that city. There, the agent, in addition to providing a safe house, gives the player minimal knowledge about the target, and requires them to perform additional reconnaissance missions before attempting the assassination. These missions include: eavesdropping, interrogation, pickpocketing and completing tasks for informers and fellow Assassins. Additionally, the player may 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. There are also various side quests that do not advance the plot such as hunting down and killing Templars and flag collecting. After 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 certain targets.
The player is made aware of how noticeable Altaïr is to enemy guards as well as the current state of alert in the local area via the "Social Status Icon". To perform many of the assassinations and other tasks, the player must consider the use of commands distinguished by its type of profile. Low-profile commands allow Altaïr to: blend into nearby crowds, pass by other citizens, or other non-threatening tasks that can be used to hide and reduce the alertness level; the player can also use Altaïr's retractable hidden blade to attempt low-profile assassinations. High-profile commands are more noticeable, and include: running, scaling the sides of buildings to climb to higher vantage points, and attacking foes; performing these actions at certain times may raise the local area's awareness level. Once the area is at high alert, the crowds run and scatter while guards attempt to chase and bring down Altaïr; to reduce the alert level, the player must control Altaïr as to break the guards' line of sight and then find a hiding space, such as a haystack or rooftop garden; or blend in with the citizens sitting on benches or wandering scholars. Should the player be unable to escape the guards, they can fight back using swordplay maneuvers.
The player's health is described as the level of "Synchronization" between Desmond and Altaïr's memories; should Altaïr suffer injury, it is represented as deviation from the actual events of the memory, rather than physical damage. If all synchronization is lost, the current memory that Desmond is experiencing will be restarted at the last checkpoint. When the synchronization bar is full, the player has the additional option to use "Eagle Vision", which allows the computer-rendered memory to highlight all visible characters in colors corresponding to whether they are ally (blue), foe (red), neutral (white), or even the target of their assassination (gold). 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, which may help the player to identify targets, or can be used to alter the viewpoint during in-game scripted scenes should the player react fast enough when they appear.
See also: List of Assassin's Creed characters
In 2012, bartender Desmond Miles is kidnapped by agents of Abstergo Industries, the world's largest pharmaceutical conglomerate. Under the guidance of Dr. Warren Vidic and his assistant Lucy Stillman, Desmond is forced to participate in a series of trials revolving around the "Animus", a machine capable of translating the genetic memories of his ancestors into a simulated reality. Vidic instructs him to relive the early years of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, a senior member of the Assassin Brotherhood during the time of the Third Crusade. His investigation reveals that Altaïr, blinded by arrogance, botched an attempt by the Assassins to retrieve an artifact, the piece of eden, from the forces of Robert de Sablé, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, leading to the death of one Assassin, and severely wounding another in the process. Though Altaïr manages to partially redeem himself by fighting off a Crusader attack on the Assassin home base of Masyaf, his mentor and superior, Al Mualim, orders him to assassinate nine individuals in order to regain his honor:
- Tamir, an arms merchant selling weapons to both sides.
- Garnier de Nablus, a prominent Crusader conducting alchemical experiments on the sick.
- Talal, the leader of a gang of slavers.
- Abu'l Nuquod, a pompous trader stealing money meant to fund the war.
- William V, Marquess of Montferrat, the cruel and abusive regent of Acre.
- Majd Addin (based off Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad), a tyrant who rules Jerusalem through fear.
- Master Sibrand, a paranoid knight planning to betray the Crusaders.
- Jubair al Hakim, a scholar using his position to seize and destroy all written knowledge.
- Robert de Sablé, the grandmaster of the Templars, the ancient enemies of the Brotherhood.
As Altaïr eliminates each target, he learns that all nine are secretly members of the Templar Order, and that they were conspiring to locate an "Apple of Eden", the relics of a long-forgotten civilization said to possess god-like powers. During an initial attempt to assassinate Robert at a funeral in Jerusalem, Altaïr discovers that Maria, a young Templar agent, had disguised herself as him in order to buy enough time for Robert to negotiate an alliance between the Crusaders and Saracens against the Assassins. Sparing her life, Altaïr catches up to Robert in the camp of King Richard I and exposes his crimes. Unsure of who to believe, Richard suggests a one-on-one duel to decide the truth, remarking that God will decide the victor. Upon sustaining a mortal wound from Altaïr, Robert confesses that he did not act alone, Al Mualim had also sought the Apple, and betrayed the Templars in the process. Returning to Masyaf, Altaïr finds both the inhabitants and Assassins under the control of the artifact, which is now held by Al Mualim. With the help of several Assassins brought in for backup, Altaïr storms the citadel and confronts his mentor in the gardens. Using the Apple, Al Mualim battles his apprentice with illusions before resorting to single combat. Altair stabs him with his "Hidden Blade" and tries to destroy the Apple, but instead unlocks a secret map within that reveals the location of countless other artifacts around the world.
With the trials complete, Vidic reveals that Abstergo is but the modern incarnation of the Templars. Lucy, who turns out to be a mole planted by the modern-day Assassins, mysteriously disappears. While awaiting her return, Desmond discovers strange drawings covering the walls of his room, which foretell a catastrophic event that will wipe out humanity.
After completing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Patrice Désilets was instructed to begin work on the next Prince of Persia game. The game began work under the title Prince of Persia: Assassin, inspired by the life of Hassan-i Sabbah. Désilets felt a prince was not an interesting protagonist, so the game's titular prince was AI-controlled, and needed to be rescued by a player-controlled Assassin. Ubisoft did not want a Prince of Persia game that was not centered on the prince; the game was spun off into a new intellectual property, and the prince character was dropped.
On September 28, 2006, in an interview with IGN, producer Jade Raymond confirmed that Altaïr is "a medieval hitman with a mysterious past" and that he is not a time traveler. In a later interview on December 13, 2006, with IGN, Kristen Bell, who lent her voice and likeness to the game, talked about the plot. According to the interview, the plot centers on genetic memory and a corporation looking for descendants of an assassin.
It's actually really interesting to me. It's sort of based on the research that's sort of happening now, about the fact that your genes might be able to hold memory. And you could argue semantics and say it's instinct, but how does a baby bird know to eat a worm, as opposed to a cockroach, if its parents don't show it? And it's about this science company trying to, Matrix-style, go into people's brains and find out an ancestor who used to be an assassin, and sort of locate who that person is.
— Kristen Bell
Raymond also stated in an interview that the game takes inspiration from Bartol's novel Alamut.
On October 22, 2007, in an IGN Australia interview with Patrice Desilets mentioned that the lead character's climbing and running were done by "Alex and Richard – the same guys from Prince of Persia."
Altaïr is voiced by actor Philip Shahbaz, and his face is modeled on Francisco Randez, a model from Montréal. Al Mualim's character is roughly based on Rashid ad-Din Sinan, who was the leader of the Syrian branch of the Hashshashin in 1191 and was nicknamed "The Old Man of the Mountain". Al Mualim was referred to as Sinan in Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles.
It was made public in April 2008 that Assassin's Creed would be sold digitally and available for pre-order through Valve's software distribution Steam. The PC version of Assassin's Creed was released on April 8, 2008, in North America. Four bonus mission types, not seen in the console versions, are included. These four missions are archer assassination, rooftop race challenge, merchant stand destruction challenge and escort challenge. Because of these four exclusive missions only available on the PC, it was released and is sold under the name of "Director's Cut Edition".
A pirated version of the game has been in existence since late February 2008. According to Ubisoft, a computer bug was purposely inserted into the pre-release version of the game by the publisher itself to unpredictably crash the game and prevent completion as a security measure, though players were able to use extra content available on the Internet to bypass it. The pirated version of Assassin's Creed was one of the most popular titles for piracy during the first week of March 2008. The presence of the bug and performance of the pirated version of the game was believed by Ubisoft to lead to "irreparable harm" for the game and resulted in low retail sales; NPD Group reports that 40,000 copies of the PC title were sold in United States in July, while more than 700,000 copies were illegally downloaded according to Ubisoft. In July 2008, Ubisoft sued disc manufacturer Optical Experts Manufacturing, believing the company to be the source of the leak, citing poor security procedures that allowed an employee to leave with a copy of the game.
A digital rights management-free version of the game was later made by GOG.com, a digital distribution store and subsidiary of CD Projekt and CD Projekt Red. It is available on the GOG Store and GOG Galaxy.
On July 10, 2007, during Microsoft's E3 press conference, a demo was shown using a previously unseen city, Jerusalem. Features that were demonstrated included improved crowd mechanics, the "chase" system (chasing after a target trying to flee), as well as deeper aspects of parkour. This was the first time when Altaïr could be heard speaking. It was again showcased for 20 minutes on July 11, 2007. A video showed an extended version of the E3 demo, and included Altaïr trying to escape after his assassination of Talal the Slave Trader.
On August 26, 2007, an 11-minute demo of Assassin's Creed was shown at the Penny Arcade Expo. The level that was shown was the same as in the E3 demo; however, a different path was taken to reach the target. At the end of the demo, a conversation between Altaïr and Malik, the head of the Assassin's bureau in Jerusalem, was shown.
Jade Raymond, producer of Assassin's Creed said "For Assassin's Creed we wanted the score to capture the gruesome atmosphere of medieval warfare but also be edgy and contemporary." The musical score was composed by Jesper Kyd in 2007. Six tracks were made available online to those who have purchased the game; a password was given to people to insert at the soundtrack section of the Ubisoft website. Several tracks are also available to listen to on Kyd's MySpace and his official website. The released tracks as a whole have the archaic Latin chorus and dark orchestral music, while the track "Meditation Begins" features a kind of Saltarello with a very ominous, dark, ambient overtone with men whispering in Latin. The atmosphere in these tracks is what Jesper Kyd is known for and is effective in situ. The soundtrack is available from various online music stores.
|1.||"City of Jerusalem"||3:11|
|2.||"Flight Through Jerusalem"||3:39|
|3.||"Spirit of Damascus"||1:31|
|4.||"Trouble in Jerusalem"||4:04|
|6.||"Access the Animus"||9:34|
|7.||"Dunes of Death"||1:46|
|8.||"Masyaf in Danger"||3:43|
|10.||"Meditation of the Assassin"||3:43|
While the song "The Chosen (Assassin's Creed)" by Intwine featuring Brainpower was made contributing to the game, it was not featured in the game nor its soundtrack. Other songs that were used in previews and trailers such as "Teardrop" by Massive Attack and "Lonely Soul" by UNKLE also are not present on the soundtrack.
Assassin's Creed received "generally favorable" reviews from critics, according to review aggregatorMetacritic.
Several publications such as Eurogamer, while still awarding the game decent scores, pointed out a number of significant shortcomings. Eurogamer stated that the gameplay "never evolves and ultimately becomes a bit boring, and quite amazingly repetitive." In Andrew P.'s review for EGM (Kage), he wrote that the game features "a challenging parkour path of escape..."Famitsu awarded the Xbox 360 version of Assassin's Creed a 36 (9, 9, 9, 9), while the PS3 version received a 37 (10, 8, 9, 10) out of 40, positively citing the story, presentation, and acrobatics, while criticizing the one button combat, map layout, and camera problems.Game Informer awarded Assassin's Creed a 9.5 out of 10, praising the control scheme, replay value, and intriguing story, but expressing frustration over the "repetitive" information gathering missions. On The Hotlist on ESPNEWS, ESPN's Aaron Boulding called the game's concept of social stealth "fairly original" and added, "Visually, the developers nailed it."GameTrailers similarly praised the story (giving a 9.7 score to its story), and also cited repetitive gameplay and "moronic" AI as somewhat stifling its potential. "Assassins Creed is one of those games that breaks new ground yet fails in nailing some fundamentals," said Gametrailers. The game also received a 10 out of 10 from GamesRadar. According to GamePro, Assassin's Creed is one of the "finest gaming experiences ever created" if you are willing to be "patient" due to the lack of fast-paced action.Hyper's Darren Wells commends the game for its "great story, great graphics and intuitive controls." However, he criticised it for "some missions that don't feel right on the PC and its loopy menu system." Hilary Goldstein of IGN gave the game a 7/10, but was rather unimpressed compared to other critics, stating that "a bad story, repetitive gameplay elements, and poor AI lead to the downfall of one of the more promising games in recent memory." He does give compliments to the combat animations and the climbing mechanic, and admired how accurately Ubisoft depicted the major cities of Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus to their real life counterparts.
Assassin's Creed won several awards at E3 2006. Game Critics awarded it "Best Action/Adventure Game,"; from IGN, "Best Action Game," "PS3 Game of the Show," "Best PS3 Action Game," "Best PS3 Graphics"; from GameSpot and GameSpy, "Best PS3 Game of the Show"; from GameTrailers "Best of Show," and from 1UP.com, "Best PS3 game." Creed was nominated for several other awards by X-Play and Spike TV.Assassin's Creed was listed by Game Informer at 143 in their list of the top 200 games of all time. It also received the editor's choice award from GameSpot. In December 2015, Game Informer ranked the game as the third best game in the Assassin's Creed series to date.
Sales for Assassin's Creed "greatly outstripped" the expectations of the publisher.
In the UK, Assassin's Creed debuted at number one, knocking Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare from the top; the majority of the debut sales were on the Xbox 360, which claimed 67% of the game's total sales. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 releases of Assassin's Creed each received a "Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 300,000 copies per version in the United Kingdom. On April 16, 2009, Ubisoft revealed that the game had sold 8 million copies to date.
Main article: Assassin's Creed
A prequel for the game, titled Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles, developed by Gameloft, was released on February 5, 2008 for the Nintendo DS. A port of Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles has also been released for the iPhone and the iPod Touch and Java ME on April 23, 2009, as well as for the Palm Pre.
On January 21, 2009, Ubisoft confirmed that Assassin's Creed II was in production and targeted for release in the company's 2009–2010 fiscal year. It was released in the United States and Canada on November 17, 2009 and in Europe on November 20, 2009.
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Assassin’s Creed is a somewhat difficult series to properly discuss as it has often contradictorally embodied both sides of the spectrum of what players ultimately want, and what they despise. With its nearly annual releases, countless other spinoff games and other bits of merchandising, Ubisoft has rather blatantly been milking the property for all its worth. And yet it has still managed to maintain a certain high standard of quality and consistency across their major releases, of which have become widely beloved by a massive fanbase.
However the series has noticeably been on a downward decline, one of which is looking rather bleak with the recent blunder of Assassin’s Creed: Unity which has been universally panned by players and garnered a lukewarm reception from critics. While much of the furor surrounding its release is specifically due to its technical issues, it is far from the only problem with the game.
But for the sake of full disclosure and to quickly get the technical aspect of the game out of the way, I ran Assassin’s Creed: Unity off an i5-2500k at stock speeds, a HD 7950, with 8GB of RAM at anywhere from 20 to low 40s in FPS (frames per second). In other words it was playable but barely ranging from being sluggish to a glorified flip-book. And while my setup is by no means top of the line, my HD 7950 has been able to handle everything I’ve thrown at it until this release with ease running other titles at 1080p at higher settings. However it does bear mentioning that according to the official requirements even a HD 7950 falls short of the minimum listing.
And popular Youtube commentator TotalBiscuit even reported that running the game on two SLI’ed GTX 980s wasn’t even enough to get consistently stable performance even with lowered settings. For those less technically inclined, two GTX 980s will run over a thousand dollars alone and are basically the best single-GPU cards currently on the market. That said, it seems a bit ridiculous that it has been apparently so difficult to run the game in a stable manner on PC when the same title is apparently suppose to run without any issues on the Xbox One and PS4, both of which have considerably inferior hardware to most mid-tier rigs. And surely enough, in the case of Assassin’s Creed: Unity even the console releases have reported poor playback with recorded FPS rates averaging in the low 20s.
And with Ubisoft’s announcement of console versions being locked at 30 FPS for a more cinematic experience, players were already skeptical before release. But what is sort of pitifully ironic is that the console versions haven’t even managed to deliver on those claims falling short of their stated limit.
What is ultimately clear is that technically something went wrong. While Assassin’s Creed: Unity is a wonderfully beautiful game that is visibly more sophisticated then its predecessors, the visual fidelity is ultimately nothing to write home about. Other recent titles with similarly high hardware demands like Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor looked nearly as good if not better in many areas such as texture quality, yet ran perfectly fine on a multitude of platforms and PC setups. I was personally able to run it with settings maxed out despite the game claiming the need for a GPU with 6GB of VRAM.
And while I don’t want to dwell too much on the technical aspects of Assassin’s Creed: Unity, it does bear mentioning that the unexpected delayed review embargo which didn’t lift until 12 hours after the game released serves as final proof that Ubisoft themselves were not confident in their product and the reception it would receive.
Having personally played through the game on PC, the performance and technical issues were a definite hindrance. But ultimately none of that was what made Assassin’s Creed: Unity so utterly disappointing. And while the game had countless issues, the primary one is something that isn’t entirely a result of this most current entry solely, rather stems from the overall direction the series has taken.
Framing the series with a metanarrative and player surrogate.
In order to properly discuss Assassin’s Creed as a whole and understand what I feel went wrong with Assassin’s Creed: Unity specifically, I have to take a step back and examine the very premise that started the series.
For those unfamiliar with the franchise, Assassin’s Creed is a series that actually takes place within our contemporary time frame. It does not as most of its promotional material suggest, take place within various historical periods of the past. It has roughly been described as a game within a game, but I feel this is a vast mischaracterization.
In the world of Assassin’s Creed, DNA does not only hold genetic instructions but also retains the memories of our ancestors. I won’t really speak for the actual scientific validity of such a claim, but it definitely isn’t anything new being closely similar to the ideas of morphic resonance put forth by Rupert Sheldrake where memories can be shared by a species or past onto future generations. In the context of Assassin’s Creed, because DNA stores past memories one can quite literally relive the lives of their ancestors through the use of a device called the Animus. And this is where the bulk of the games take place, within this simulated space within a simulated medium.
From the first Assassin’s Creed to Assassin’s Creed III