View Full Version : Replaying Assassin's Creed:From Altair to Ezio - Spoilers

01-10-2015, 06:03 AM
I have recently went on a huge binge replaying all the older Assassin's Creed titles, partly to rub away the disappointment of UNITY and the slightly less disappointing ROGUE.

Now, this time, I basically did a quick playthrough, no collectibles or achievements, very few side missions. Playing these games again, one thing that surprises me is that cliches people have parroted about earlier titles are not really true and that the games are actually more interesting than people realize.

Assassin's Creed 1
- The Kingdom as a setting, unless people really want to go and hunt those sixty Templars or collect the Flags is totally superfluous. Every other location in the game is important for providing an Assassination Target, but this setting is ''just there'' as a patch of exploration. In AC3, you had another HUB area, The Frontier, which serves a similar equation but the joke is there the Frontier is better integrated to the story than the cities in the game, whereas here the cities have obviously gotten the most importance in development, to the point that I don't see why Kingdom is all that important.
- I am developing a different criteria for judging cities in AC games. The Ratio of Time Spent on Rooftops-Versus-Time spent on Street. One thing about AC1 that is brilliant is that you can traverse the entire map on rooftops alone. The only time you need to go below is to start the side-missions or story-missions, or when you enter the bureau. This time when I played the game, I avoided jumping on haystacks and got down the hard way. Drop-and-catch-a-ledge or go back the way you came in, somehow this way felt more Assassin-Like than jumping into haystacks and I avoided Leap of Faiths as and when possible.
- One of the features that I like in the game but is missing in later games, is that when you synchronize viewpoints, you simply have to stand at the top, rather than get on your knees on the Eagle-Guano-Covered Ledge. I especially like it when you find Guards on top of these buildings and you can kill them and time the synchronization with your assasination, creating an awesome moment yourself.
- Among the cities, Jerusalem is probably the most boring, the only interest is that Malik is located there and obviously provides a character conflict to square against Altair. My favorite area is the District, where Altair meets Maria and my favorite monuments is the Dome on the Rock, the wooden Jewish synagogue (with the huge Star of David on top) and the graveyard of Majd Addin's funeral.
- Acre is the most invented of the cities, since absolutely nothing from this period is all that known so it's much more invented and feels more like a video game level overall, it has this incredible spooky atmosphere (justified since Altair is an Arab in a Crusader city). The game is interesting though for it's terrain, being a coastal port. Some areas are higher, while others are on a lower level.
- Damascus though is one of the greatest cities in the series, it's the one where I spent most of my time on foot, among the crowd, observing NPCs. The rooftops are great and awesome but the real-stuff is in the streets. The Rich district with the Ummayad Mosque is just as beautiful as Florence, I find. And I like the fact that all three of the Assassinations here take place in the middle of society. Whether its killing Tamir in the Souk, the awesome Abul Nuqod(my favorite target) in his mansion or Jubair in the middle of the streets.
- One thing I discovered to my surprise, the side missions are not repititive. Yes they are technically the same errands you do time and again, but they don't feel repititive at all. The reason is that the Big Assassination Missions are so sprawling and intelligently done, that these small mini-missions pace yourself to it, well. And some of the side missions, especially the Assassination mission by the Acre docks are quite smartly written.
- Overall, I think AC1 is not really what people think, a dry-run to AC2 or a game that just fell short of greatness. It IS a great game and its got the best plot of all the games. The main thing is that the cities are distinct and original, cater to different styles of traversal and atmosphere.
- My favorite assassination missions are Abul Nuqood and Sibrand, both of them I managed to kill in the long romanticized "Blade-in-the-Crowd" style fans talk about. In actual fact, most of the AC missions are fairly linear and while you can come up with different ways to approach the target and the like, but there's not much choice in seven different ways to break through a wall.
- Also I finally figured out how Throwing Knives work and it is awesome. Rooftops have never been more fun or more lonely.

Assassin's Creed 2
- The main about AC2 is that in terms of atmosphere, it's not as spooky as AC1, mostly because the Renaissance is not as spooky as The Crusades. This is the game that really started "historical tourism" with the Database entries and the side-missions and puzzles that attract you to different monuments. One thing that I realize, Shaun's database entries aren't funny the second time around.
- I think generally there are two kinds of epic stories. One where the villains are more interesting than the heroes and one where the heroes are interesting. The basic rule is that a game where the hero is more interesting has boring villains and vice-versa. In AC2, the real story and emotional chord comes from hanging out with the game's awesome supporting cast and as such the build-up and downtime before big missions feel more fun and interesting than the big missions.
- For combat, I actually avoided upgrading my armor or weapons. This time, I simply used either the Hidden Blade, Throwing Knives(and later gun), or I disarmed my opponent and killed them with their own sword. The different little animations they put in are awesome and I feel disarming and killing the guy with their own weapons is more of an Assassin style of combat (also makes it faster than using your own sword) than traversing with piles or armor and weapons. I love the animation, where Ezio grabs an Axe from a Brute, slashes him and then gently taps his body back to the ground. The spear assassinations are also great. Poison-Blade Assassinations though are entirely superfluous here.
- While I avoided the side missions, I instinctually felt that I had to complete the Tomb levels and get the Armor. I also feel this way about the Domenico Auditore Tomb that you unlock via Uplay(already Ubisoft cordoning content with apps and subsidiaries is well present). These parts are really essential to understanding Ezio's involvement with the Assassins, especially the Domenico Auditore level which adds to this amazing pay-off, provides backstory on how the Assassins came to Italy. Also these tomb levels are immensely fun and provide a nice change from the earlier games. For one thing it has interiors and all of them are interesting, even if with the exception of the San Marco Church, take place in some dank and dirty sewer or dungeon.
- The Roof-Street City Ratio is that, I spent more time on streets in Florence than I did in Venice. In the countryside, I spent more time on Horse in Forli(whose landscape, with large parts of the land flooded with pools of water is quite awesome to run around) than in San Gimignano(whose countryside with its cardboard thin, vibrant-green Tuscan fields suffers from weak assets at least compared to the more detailed and gorgeous natural environment of AC3 and AC4). Monteriggioni, kind of like The Kingdom is fairly superfluous in that aside from being HQ of Auditore-Assassin Incorporated there's not much plot reason for coming back there(as opposed to AC1 where Masyaf is really central to the game).
- Venice is an awesome city, the only rub is that the only way you can cover the city, hopping from roof to roof, is to jump on the Rialto Bridge. The area where most time is spent on foot is the Dorsoduro-Carnivale district. Architecturally, Venice is really amazing with all these white stone Churches like San Zacarria and the Visitation. In Florence, all the different areas don't feel all that different from each other, whereas in Venice they really do feel original, especially the Arsenale district.
- In terms of missions, obviously the big moments are important, but one thing I found out in AC2, is that the tailing missions which people complain about, are actually fun. I am thinking of the one where you follow the Venetian Conspirators to the meeting with Borgia. There's character exposition, the range of options in traversal, follow-on-foot by blending with crowds and using Courtesan Factions to blend in, or go from rooftops.
- In terms of Assassination Missions, my favorites are the Carnevale Missions where despite the linearity, the build-up, the small mini-missions of tournament is both satisfying and enjoyable, in a manner similar to AC1. The Palazzo de Seta mission/Emilio Barbarigo is also fun, since this time, I killed him "Blade-in-the-Crowd" style. The Arsenale Missions of Dante Morro and Silvio Barbarigo are disappointing. Among the earlier Assassination missions, the one where you kill that guy on top of the Tower at San Gimignano is the best since it involves the Traversal, Climbing Mechanic for Assassinations which is really rare in the games to involve.
- I have to say, that ''The Bonfire of the Vanities'' DLC(although since I have a GOTY edition, its not DLC anymore) makes better use of Florence's Map than the game's earlier sections. It's a satisfying mini-game on its own and I think that Girolamo Savonarola would have made a better main villain than Rodrigo Borgia, since a lot of the Templar ideology makes sense with him in a way they don't with Rodrigo. Ideally, Bonfire of the Vanities should have been the end of the main game and the whole Borgia Family should have been saved for the Sequel. It provides a better climax than the final mission. The Bonfire DLC has this spooky atmosphere which makes the Happiness of the early section of Florence really stand out, it's way more intense and the guards are more inescapable than ever (as they would be in a Police State). The Assassination Missions here are better done than the main Target missions, you have one at the Top of the Dome, one battle royal/gladiator pit, where you have to escape arrows shooting at you from all sides and a throng of guards to climb to a higher level and reach your target, the Port Authority Mission on the Ship and my favorite, the one where you kill a mad doctor in his hospital. Being a literal Blade-in-The-Crowd in a way that even AC1 didn't manage, best part is that I timed it in such a way, that I immediately sat on a bench after the deathbed conversation and as such, I avoided the whole chase-part of all AC missions which I think a skilled Assassin ought to be able to avoid, so one thing this game did better, in providing a window for that subtle escape.

- Brotherhood is a game of side-missions and the story is really a DLC of AC2, but it works because again it has Ezio and the Supporting Cast. It has a plot of a heist mission, the Hero puts together a team to implement a plan and each person in the group has a specific function and target. It's the Ocean's 11 of the games and you get to be the Leader, in that part the game is really fun and comes together and as in a heist movie, the guys do a lot of different specific skills that clash with the very simple goal that they are actually after. Rebuild Rome, win hearts and minds, develop the city, all worthy heroic goals that they do for the petty motivation of revenge.
- Rome as a whole is an incredible map, partly because it's not really about architecture which is there, but about terrain. You have a city on seven hills, vast parts of the countyside between different urbanities and if you want a blacksmith spot, you have to move up and down until the Icon on the Map becomes clear. It's really three-dimensional in a way. The topographical aspect of places on higher areas and other parts on lower levels comes off brilliantly. It would have benefitted if they used the countryside features of III since then it would feel complete because it's thinly imagined.
- The only Assassination Missions I like in Brotherhood is the one where you take the place of a guy to meet The Banker, for that you have to climb on the roof of the Pantheon, drop from the top of a vaulted roof, and Air-Assasinate. This one brings the historical element, using an actual monument's real architecture, climbing, Parkour, traversal and new Assassin features brilliantly.
- This is a game where you are really encouraged to do side-missions instinctively and it's more of a map with things to do than a real game. It's not a bad game but it's the beginning of the decadence of AC that's for sure.

- To me Revelations is the Subject 16 game. Clay Kaczmarek for me is the most interesting Modern Day character. The Bleeding Effect, a cool concept the series ultimately didn't know what to do with and never explored in a comprehensive way, comes together with Clay and the spooky space-out way he moves and speaks is cool. He's also a far superior Database Writer than Shaun Hastings. Also since Clay is a mysterious character you have a motivation to read the database since they reveal parts of his personality in addition to giving you information. Darby McDevitt used the same idea again with Abstergo Entertainment where the Database Entries gives you information about Abstergo and Modern Day Templars simply from the tone of their writing.
- Istanbul is my favorite city so far, it has the best of all worlds. Atmosphere, almost equal time on roof and foot, varied terrain and topography, different sections, monuments and places that just call out "Climb Me" and the Hookblade Ziplining never stops being fun. Plotwise it's essentially an Uncharted game with Ezio looking for treasure, competing against Templars, and endangering people he cares about on the way. It's most linear than the earlier games and I can't think of any Assassination levels that really work. The best is the Prince's Banquet, where you beat up those minstrels and mingle in crowds while signaling your pals to make "Blade-in-the-Crowd" kills.
- The Bomb Missions with Piri Reis are loads of fun since Piri Reis is a cool guy to hang out with, and the Crowd mechanics and interaction is great but I wish that they removed the multiple weapons Ezio has at his disposal. With his advanced age, it makes sense he'd use a Hookblade for quicker traversal, it makes sense he'd use bombs to get past crowds but it doesn't make sense that the option of being a killing machine is still open to him.
- The game has a great supporting cast as well, so again its loads of fun.

01-10-2015, 06:16 AM
I made a thread like this already :)