Happy holidays, J1 fans! Devildriver1313 here and I’m your “Ghost of Gaming Past” ready to take you on a journey back through gaming history. With the Assassin’s Creed film hitting theatres next week, I thought it’d be interesting to gander at how the stealth action series from Ubisoft began and grew into the popular franchise it is today. Here is the Time Warp Review of the first Assassin’s Creed.
After completing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, developer Patrice Désilets was instructed to begin work of the next Prince of Persia title. Inspired by the life of Hassan-i Sabbah, an Arabian prince from actual history who founded the Hashshashin, or Assassins, Patrice began work on the next title in the Ubisoft action series with the working title, Prince of Persia: Assassin.” Rather than center the game on the Prince, Désilets moved the focus onto an Assassin that would actually rescue the Prince. However, Ubisoft did not want a Prince of Persia game where the title character was not the focus. So the prince was dropped in favor of a spinoff title.
Assassin’s Creed, the first game in the series, is set during the Third Crusade in the Holy Land in 1191, with the plot revolving around the Secret Order of Assassins, which is based upon the Hashshashin sect, who are locked in a centuries-old struggle against the Templars, who are based upon the Knights Templar. The game switches between the real world and the ancestral memories of Desmond Miles, who uses the “Animus” to access these memories. In this case, he relives the past as his ancestor Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, a member of the Assassins. In the game’s plot, Altaïr is a senior member who arrogance leads to the death of one of his comrades and severely wounding another. To regain his honor, Al Mualim, his mentor and superior, orders him to assassinate nine specific individuals. With each assassination of these targets, Altaïr learns that each one is a member of the Templars who are in search of a powerful artifact called “Apple of Eden”, relics of a long-forgotten society said to possess god-like powers. Altaïr learns more about the Apple of Eden and his master’s deception as the game progresses. The gameplay of Assassin’s Creed centered on Altaïr carrying out various missions for an Assassin agent. The agent not only provides sanctuary but provides information about the target, revealing more info as more tasks are completed. These missions include eavesdropping, interrogation, pickpocketing and completing tasks for informers and fellow assassins. The player may also partake in objectives around the city such a climbing tall towers to get a better layout of the city and saving citizens being harassed by the city guards. Saved civilians would show their appreciation by calling vigilantes who will help Altaïr when he is being chased by guards and Scholars, whom Altaïr can blend in with to hide from prying eyes.
Many elements from Prince of Persia are incorporated into Assassin’s Creed. Altaïr can run and platform through the city using his agility for scaling buildings or jumping across rooftops. There is no wall-running but Altaïr’s moves are based off of parkour free running. He can use this to escape guards when being pursued or take them out quickly before they notice him. The key to Assassin’s Creed is stealth. Keeping a low profile ensured that your mission is carried out with the utmost scrutiny. However, the local’s awareness will be raised show the player scale a building, run or assassinate an enemy around bystanders. Should Altaïr be found out, he has to break the guards’ line of sight and then find a hiding spot such as bales of hay, rooftop gardens or blend in with citizens by sitting on a bench.
Assassin’s Creed story is told through fictional history which incorporates Altaïr’s story with actual historical events and people. For instance, both the game’s storyline and the Secret Order of Assassins are based upon Hassan-i Sabbah, a Nizārī Ismā‘īlī missionary who converted a community in the late 11th century in the heart of the Alborz Mountains of northern Persia and founded a group of fedayeen whose members are often referred to as the Hashshashin, or “Assassins”. Al Mualim has been confirmed to be Rashīd ad-Dīn Sinān, who was the actual leader of the Syrian branch of the Nizari Ismaili state (the Assassins), who is also known as the Old Man of the Mountain, and a figure in the history of the Crusades, the period in which the game is set. This made for an interesting plot. This idea has been used throughout the series along with the shift between the Assassins and Templars’ feud in history and their continuing struggle in the modern world.
Assassin’s Creed was released November 2007. It was met with critical acclaim and well received by critics and gamers alike. 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. Gamepro called it one of the “finest gaming experiences ever created.” Assassin’s Creed has won several gaming awards at E3 2006 including “Best Action/Adventure Game,” “Best PS3 Graphics” and “Best PS3 Game of the Show.” To date, Assassin’s Creed has sold more than 10 million copies. The upcoming film, Assassin’s Creed, is based upon the series and will be released December 21, 2016.