Assassin’s Creed Rankings: 5 & 4

In the run up to Assassin’s Creed Syndicate‘s release on Friday, we continue on from yesterday’s ranking’s list of 7 & 6 for the Assassin’s Creed games…

Today we take a look at what I believe to be the next two games in my ranking of the the Assassin’s Creed franchise. While these two may be better than yesterday’s they do not quite make it into the top three:

5. Assassin’s Creed

 

InlayDVD_PC_UK-assassin'creed.qxd

 

What Worked: This was the game that launched it all. It introduced the world to the Animus, Desmond and Abstergo. Assassin’s Creed was the game that took the myths that surrounded the Knights Templar and mixed it in together with the Order of Assassins, another very real group and set them against each other in the time period which was their heyday. Although Altair was not necessarily the most charismatic of protagonists, he gave players the right window of introduction into the world of the Assassins, having been broken down and forced to build both himself and his honour back up again.

Unlike all the games that followed, upgrades to Altair’s armour and weapons came from progression through the game alone. To beat the tougher enemies, you had to have progressed through the story. There was no in-game monetary system in place to upgrade swords and armour. You were only ready for the final levels when you got there and this kept you on your toes through the rest of the game, as your armour was not several levels above that of your enemies. Being able to afford better armour in future games helped reduce the element of risk that combat brought, rather than sneaking past your enemies. It’s a mechanic that is rarely seen in games these days, especially with the increase in micro-transactions to purchase equipment sooner rather than later.

What Didn’t: At the time, I would say that very little was a problem for Assassin’s Creed, however it is more the success of those which follows that drive down opinion of this game when looking back. Primarily, the issue of combat was well recognised by the time the franchise has moved on into the middle of Ezio’s story. Altair was all but invincible as long as players countered at the right time, with the AI only able to attack one at a time.

The parkour was not especially smooth at the time and other games highlighted this in hindsight, however at the time of playing, it would not have been noticeable without the other games to compare it to.

Why Rank It Here: Although I find it hard to fault Assassin’s Creed for the game it was, at the time it was released, it is more the success of the games which followed, than the fault of Assassin’s Creed for its ranking. Assassin’s Creed gave us the foundations to build upon and did a good job of it. I think the games that followed were better to play, but that wouldn’t have been the case without Assassin’s Creed to learn from. The fact that I was excited to hear they were making an Assassin’s Creed II, meant that the original had done its job well.

 

4. Assassin’s Creed Unity

 

Unity

 

What Worked: Assassin’s Creed Unity was the first game that, for the most part, made missions more open ended. Spotted by the guards? No problem, you simply made things harder on yourself rather than desyncing your progress and being forced back to a checkpoint. I think this helped make you learn to become a better assassin. You had the chance to experience a method and learn from it. You were also given options, create a distraction and rush the entrance, or try and go in through the upper level window and sneak your way through down to your target. How you completed your objective was not important, just that you completed it. You could play the game your way, not the developers’ way.

Arno as a character was better than some of his predecessors. He struck me as Ezio-lite. He had the confidence and cheek that Ezio displayed so effortlessly, but at times he seemed out of his depth, which I think worked to an extent. I’ll admit that the choice to go with British accents, rather than the accented English translations of previous games was an interesting one. At times I wish that it hadn’t been done, but other times it really did help to sell the wit, sarcasm and at times scorn the characters had. I think my split opinion on this comes out more in favour than against.

What Didn’t: Ubisoft’s ambition for Assassin’s Creed Unity to be more connected, a flowing co-operative experience ended up at being a bit of a flop. Unfortunately, levelling up Arno also involved a fair amount of online play, which when servers were struggling meant completing a game with an assassin whom knew only a portion of what he could. Having to spend points on learning how to sit on a bench seems a little petty to me. Some things should have been available straight away, while yes, other things needed to be earned. I don’t dislike the ‘build your own specialist assassin’ approach as such, I just dislike how it was implemented in Assassin’s Creed Unity.

What also let Assassin’s Creed Unity down was the sheer number of bugs within the game. No large open world game is ever going to be free of bugs, that’s pretty much an accepted standard these days, but in Assassin’s Creed Unity it could just be overwhelming and destroyed the gameplay experience, taking you away from the immersion you were seeking. Subsequent patches rectified some of the problems, but they still exist in the game and unfortunately for Assassin’s Creed Unity, the damage was done too soon to recover fully.

Why Rank It Here: While the game itself was not too solid, Ubisoft deserves some credit for trying to implement new features into the game to keep things fresh. Assassin’s Creed Unity should not necessarily be looked at as a disaster, but instead as a learning opportunity on how to improve going forwards. Assassin’s Creed Unity was a more open game, giving players options on their missions and I think this was the right step. Changes to the parkour system were the right idea, but perhaps not the best implemented. Much like Assassin’s Creed was the foundation for the early games, Assassin’s Creed Unity has the chance the be the foundation for the new generation games going forwards, as long as Ubisoft choose the right parts to build on.

That’s it for today. Be sure to check out tomorrow’s list for the top three!

Dan