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View Full Version : Assassin's Creed 1 Sequence Analysis(with Farlander1991)



Dev_Anj
04-04-2014, 08:02 AM
http://www.picgifs.com/wallpapers/games/assassins-creed/animaatjes-assassins-creed-68016.jpg


Hello fellow assassins, freerunners, pirates and thieves, welcome to Assassin's Creed Sequence Analysis! This will be a series devoted to analyzing the sequences in Assassin's Creed. Joining me will be Farlander1991. Farlander1991, in case you didn't know, is a long term member who is a good, argumentative yet helpful member of these forums.

So without any delay, let's begin...

Sequence 0:

The game starts off with very surreal imagery. Everything around is blurred, and the game keeps flashing tutorials. You hear someone speaking, but don't see him.

Soon, the scene shifts to a city, but the imagery is still blurred, and worse, it seems to be showing static images of other places every so often. You hear two doctors talking about a certain "Desmond" being unstable. Finally, they pull you out of the simulation.

Very soon, you then learn that you are Desmond, you were part of some group called the "Assassins", and you are now held somewhere by scientists looking for something. One of them explains that they are assessing your "genetic memories" to look into the lives of Desmond's ancestors, and the other shows that they want to access a specific memory, but Desmond's subconsciousness is resisting it. The general premise isn't bad, but it's told in cutsscenes that are a bit stretched out, and are rather static.

You then go through a tutorial program, which teaches the puppeteer controls, looking, gently pushing crowds, low profile and high profile, and the general mechanics of Assassin's Creed titles(not including the suspicious enemies and blending of course). This tutorial helps Desmond to synchronize with his ancestors.

The tutorial is long, and not necessarily the best way to teach these mechanics, but it also makes Assassin's Creed look like a more complex game than it is. More on that later.

Anyway, off to Solomon's Temple...

You see a white robed man killing an old man. Two people present with him argue over this. The one with the grey hood praises Altair, i.e the white robed man for killing him silently, while the other chides him for breaking the tenets of the Creed. Said tenets are mentioned at the end of the tutorial: Do not kill innocents, do not compromise the Brotherhood, and be discreet.

Solomon's Temple is a fairly linear level. It's essentially a continuation of the game tutorial. Amusingly, it teaches one thing the long Animus tutorial didn't: jumping!

What happens in this level is that Altair, our protagonist, kills a soldier and then finds a relic near a coffin. One of his accomplices ask if it's the Ark of the Covenant, and Altair says that such things do not exist. A group of soldiers, led by a powerful looking man, enter the room and gather around the relic. The leader is Robert de Sable, and he says he'd use it to deal with the jackals at Masyaf. Altair decides to try and assassinate him, much against the wishes and better judgement of the man who criticized him earlier. Predictably, it ends up poorly and he gets thrown into another part of the Temple, while his accomplices are forced to fight against a larger group of soldiers and Robert. Also, we learn that he and his accomplices are from a group called "Assassins", Robert de Sable leads a group of Templars, and the "jackals at Masyaf" meant the Assassins.

The next room is pretty much a mini sandbox which allows the player to climb and jump around. Altair is quite agile and can climb scaffolding, crates, and even broken pillars. Next room, Altair climbs a wall using some jutting bricks, which leads him to an exit.

We get to see Jerusalem, but instead of leaving it by ourselves, the game fast forwards to....

Join me next time in Masyaf!

P.S Farlander1991, is this good enough? :D

Dev_Anj
04-04-2014, 03:09 PM
I guess there isn't much interest in this topic, is there? Okay.

Farlander1991
04-04-2014, 03:19 PM
P.S Farlander1991, is this good enough?

Hey, it's your show, so whatever's good enough for what you want to say is good enough to me :) I just said I'll contribute if time allows.

In retrospective it's curious how a lot of people say that the very beginning of AC3 doesn't allow for any freedom at all, when AC1 is essentially the same way (with the only big difference being the part at the end of the Solomon's Temple, as it is a mini-sandbox rather than a straight path). Although, AC3 has a LOT more freedom problems than AC1 overall, so there's that...

At any rate, I don't think this is a very well designed area, but again, it's more in retrospective.

First time playing AC, I was paying attention to everything, but on consecutive playthroughs, you start notice things like too many exposition dumps and poor pacing. Or maybe I was just younger and less critical of these kinds of flaws.

Assassin's Creed 3 has a tutorial which shows off the Animus technology AND teaches the player the main interactions in a more interesting manner, I feel. AC1's tutorial would certainly benefit from that style. It could even simulate Altair's path towards the Temple before transforming into the area we begin (without all the fancy effects from AC3 as at that time the engine wasn't good enough for that kind of stuff).

You certainly don't want to show the real Jerusalem itself, I think, to leave the city introductions to the special cutscenes which we get when arriving for the first time in every city for our assassinations.

SixKeys
04-04-2014, 03:58 PM
I was hoping for more analysis, less scene-by-scene recap of the game. I've played it enough times to remember what happens, I want to know why you guys think it's good/bad.

Considering AC1 was the first game in the series and still had the puppeteering concept, which AC3 got rid of, I disagree that AC3's tutorial was necessarily better. AC3's was quite simplistic and redundant for those already generally familiar with AC's controls, even though they changed somewhat. AC1 had to go into a lot of detail to explain things like the suspicion indicator, gentle pushing, blend walk etc. AC3 streamlined the controls so that all they had to explain was "push stick forward to freerun, X to assassinate".

AC2 did the best job at tutorials IMO. Everything was tied to the story so that those already familiar with the controls didn't have to be bored, while those still learning had plenty of room to practice. AC3's "tutorial" was more like a crash course that assumed most players already knew the basics, which is okay for seasoned players but not really good game design.

Dev_Anj
04-04-2014, 04:18 PM
I was hoping for more analysis, less scene-by-scene recap of the game. I've played it enough times to remember what happens, I want to know why you guys think it's good/bad.


Sure I'll try, but Sequence 0 is very story heavy, and light on actual gameplay. Besides, there are people here who haven't played Assassin's Creed 1 and might wonder about the background for the levels.

SixKeys
04-04-2014, 04:24 PM
Then why not just post a Let's Play video for each mission/sequence? That way people can get a video recap while you can focus on the gameplay analysis.

menumaxibestof
04-04-2014, 06:42 PM
[...] Sequence 0 is very story heavy [...]

Then why didn't you try to analyze what it means and how it introduces the themes that will be developed through the whole game ? :)

Dev_Anj
04-04-2014, 06:52 PM
Well didn't I? I mentioned how it shows Altair behaving arrogantly, breaking the tenets of his creed and recklessly making decisions, thinking that he can always win. This is a central theme to the story, and one which influences many moments in the story.

menumaxibestof
04-04-2014, 07:28 PM
Well, that's the most evident layer of the story. But this is deeper than that, think about the mise en scène.

Each game written by Corey May (AC 1, AC 2, AC 3, Batman Arkham Origins) is filled with the same themes : Oedipus complex and brother complex. And each time, the first sequence is an introduction to these themes.

Now, with that in mind, think about it again :


As you say, "the game starts off with very surreal imagery". Everything around is blurred, yeah, but what especially ? There are women, a lot. They are blurred, inaccessible. There is also a man, one single man. What could it mean ?
Altair has a missing finger, cut off. What could it mean ?
Altair, in company of two other assassins (i.e. brothers, as we are talking of the Brotherhood of the Assassins), kills an old man with his blade. What could it mean ?
Altair argues with those two brothers. As you correctly remarked, one brother expresses admiration for Altair, the other one expresses his anger. What could it mean ?
Altair is arrogant, as you say. He can't follow the rules. He acts like a child. What could it mean ?


I'm not attempting to give a lesson, I just try to make you (and other forummers) think about the meaning of the things you see. And I give questions rather than answers because you could have your own interpretation that could be different from mine and could lead to an interesting debate. :)


AC games written by Corey May and Jeffrey Yohalem are much more complex than the majority of fans think.

Dev_Anj
04-06-2014, 07:36 AM
I personally didn't note anything too special about the scenes you mentioned.

Why the scenes were blurred? Obviously, it was because the machine wasn't loading up the memory properly. The women were from the garden behind Masyaf, and the man is most probably Altair's teacher who betrays him later. This scene probably shows both the peaceful garden and the garden during the fight clashing and mixing up(as it happens while recollecting unclear memories that occurred in similar locations, but in different situations.

Altair's finger was cut so he could use the hidden blade. It also shows that the assassins are willing to sacrifice a finger to use a weapon that allows them to kill discreetly. It also reinforces the idea that they have to sacrifice to help the order.

Well, killing an old man probably meant that Altair was willing to take the life of a civilian, even one as frail as an old person. Altair didn't want the mission to be compromised, even though that meant breaking the tenets of the creed.

The two accomplices are probably an allegory to the angel vs. devil element. One person praises Altair for doing the wrong thing. This person may seem more friendly at first, but is actually hurtful in the end because he encourages Altair to take bad decisions. He is the "devil" in the story. The other person is harsh, but actively tries to discourage Altair from his poor decisions, and is the "angel" in this case.

I think it's a character trait. From what we learn later on, Altair was a very diligent student, and one of the best among the Assassins. But this rose to his head, and he started making decisions without following his creed's tenets or good judgement, leading him to a bad situation. He also didn't understand the actual meaning of the tenets, instead he used them to justify his bad decisions.

Sorry for the late reply!

Templar_Az
04-06-2014, 07:44 AM
Someone playing the game for the first time wouldnt be able to figure all that out ^

menumaxibestof
04-07-2014, 12:05 PM
I personally didn't note anything too special about the scenes you mentioned.

Why the scenes were blurred? Obviously, it was because the machine wasn't loading up the memory properly. The women were from the garden behind Masyaf, and the man is most probably Altair's teacher who betrays him later. This scene probably shows both the peaceful garden and the garden during the fight clashing and mixing up(as it happens while recollecting unclear memories that occurred in similar locations, but in different situations.

Altair's finger was cut so he could use the hidden blade. It also shows that the assassins are willing to sacrifice a finger to use a weapon that allows them to kill discreetly. It also reinforces the idea that they have to sacrifice to help the order.

Well, killing an old man probably meant that Altair was willing to take the life of a civilian, even one as frail as an old person. Altair didn't want the mission to be compromised, even though that meant breaking the tenets of the creed.

The two accomplices are probably an allegory to the angel vs. devil element. One person praises Altair for doing the wrong thing. This person may seem more friendly at first, but is actually hurtful in the end because he encourages Altair to take bad decisions. He is the "devil" in the story. The other person is harsh, but actively tries to discourage Altair from his poor decisions, and is the "angel" in this case.

I think it's a character trait. From what we learn later on, Altair was a very diligent student, and one of the best among the Assassins. But this rose to his head, and he started making decisions without following his creed's tenets or good judgement, leading him to a bad situation. He also didn't understand the actual meaning of the tenets, instead he used them to justify his bad decisions.

Here again, you didn't analyzed the meaning. Elements are a physical projection of the mental conflicts of the main character.

There are two things to dissociate :

the scenario as a first simple layer of narration, which is only a support to develop the mise en scène.
the mise en scène, which is the second and deeper level of narration, the one which is told only through pictures. This is a more complex dialog between the author and his audience, which requires you to analyze what you see and to interpret the meaning.


I'm talking about interpretation, but don't misinterpret the word. I'm not talking about interpretation as a speculation, as something you imagine based on a totally subjective reading. This is more like "I see this. I also see this. It refers to this. This plus this plus this... It means this." This is an objective reading of the elements that are shown to you. Subjectivity only influences your axis of analyze.

I told you about Oedipus and brother complexes. Here are the main elements you have to know about them :

As a child, I love my mother.
The father is the one who prevents me from loving my mother. He castrates me and my incestuous envy. He represents order. He is the man I fear. He is the man I need to kill.
The phallus as a symbol of the sexual desire is a central element. Everything referring to the the male sexual organ through its form can eventually be seen as a representation of the phallus. Especially for the castration...
My brother/sister is a kind of punching ball. He/she is someone I love and hate at the same time. I'm jealous of him/her because he/she monopolizes the attention of my parents.


Now with those elements in mind, do you see some meaning emerging from the points I asked you to concentrate on ?



Sorry for the late reply!
No worries, take the time you need. :)

Dev_Anj
04-07-2014, 03:42 PM
Here again, you didn't analyzed the meaning. Elements are a physical projection of the mental conflicts of the main character.


I told you about Oedipus and brother complexes. Here are the main elements you have to know about them :

As a child, I love my mother.
The father is the one who prevents me from loving my mother. He castrates me and my incestuous envy. He represents order. He is the man I fear. He is the man I need to kill.
The phallus as a symbol of the sexual desire is a central element. Everything referring to the the male sexual organ through its form can eventually be seen as a representation of the phallus. Especially for the castration...
My brother/sister is a kind of punching ball. He/she is someone I love and hate at the same time. I'm jealous of him/her because he/she monopolizes the attention of my parents.


Now with those elements in mind, do you see some meaning emerging from the points I asked you to concentrate on ?


No worries, take the time you need. :)

No, not at all. To be honest, analyzing it that way feels like reading too much into the narrative elements. I mean, seriously those are straightforward scenes, why try and use such complexes?

Dev_Anj
04-07-2014, 05:03 PM
Oh wait...you say that Altair is mentally a child, and since he lacks proper guidance, he lashes against the tenets and the order of Al Mualim, who is his "father" in this case, because he wants to embrace success and the admiration of the rest of his order, which is his "mother". And Malik tries to guide Altair away from his bad decisions, but he speaks rudely. Malik is the "brother" in this case.

menumaxibestof
04-07-2014, 06:33 PM
Oh wait...you say that Altair is mentally a child, and since he lacks proper guidance, he lashes against the tenets and the order of Al Mualim, who is his "father" in this case, because he wants to embrace success and the admiration of the rest of his order, which is his "mother". And Malik tries to guide Altair away from his bad decisions, but he speaks rudely. Malik is the "brother" in this case.

Yeah, pretty much. Apart from the order of the Assassins as a representation of the mother, that's something you could try to defend if you think you have a point here. ;)

All the story is about Altair having to be a better person, to pass from a state of mind to another, to become a man.
This is the brotherhood of the Assassins, it works like a family. It's always a relation of hate and love between Altair and the other assassins (his brothers).

The whole story is based on Oedipus and brother complexes, as a lot of stories are (in literature and cinema). I expressed those in their more radical form, but it is then re-used more or less subtly in the game.

Play the game with that in mind and tell me if that sounds so exaggerated. Then you will have to replay the first sequence to see how it introduced the themes.
Then maybe if you were convinced or at least interested in the "art of analyzing" ( :D ), you will have to replay AC 3 to see how much it follows the same scheme.

Dev_Anj
04-08-2014, 01:50 PM
Yeah, pretty much. Apart from the order of the Assassins as a representation of the mother, that's something you could try to defend if you think you have a point here. ;)



I thought that Altair obviously broke the tenets of the creed because he wanted something that couldn't be gained while following them. While killing the old man, one of his accomplices praised him, and further encouraged him to directly attack Robert. This made me think that he desires praise for his actions, and wants to do what he thinks without the creed or good judgement coming his way. Since the creed and Al Mualim's orders come in his way, they are the "father" and the praise from his members the "mother".

And yes, I know that the whole story was about Altair maturing and learning about his mistakes, and this happened through the course of several interactions, the alternate views of the targets he killed, and his experiences in the cities.

Also, I don't have Assassin's Creed 3, so I can't really play that to analyze the beginning. Sorry!