In 2007 Ubisoft released Assassins Creed, a unique third-person stealth-action game that allowed precise parkour movement across a fictional yet accurate historical portrayal of the Holy Land during the Third Crusade. You donned the white hooded rope of demoted assassin Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad as he’s tasked to assassinate nine Templars to reclaim his esteemed status amongst the Brotherhood’s ranks.
The game was criticised for a repetitive narrative but it was the premise, setting and innovative gameplay that excited players for the seventh generation of video game consoles. Its 2009 sequel improved upon the original Assassins Creed’s faults in almost every way and from that moment on, we’ve gotten an annual entry into the popular franchise. Many have voiced their frustrations with the yearly installments, and I am one of them. Well, we may not be getting an entry into the series this year if reported rumours (Kotaku) are true, and I’m pleased about that.
Assassins Creed sells millions of copies every year, so rightly so Ubisoft keeps making them. Each game is typically under development for three years by different studios within Ubisoft, such as Ubisoft Montreal, in order to hit the annualised release schedule. When you take that into consideration, you realise that more time goes into making these games than you might expect, and typically they are sound games.
But then we were scorned by Assassins Creed Unity which came out in November of 2014. Upon release it was plagued with famous glitches and technical hiccups that flooded the internet with memes and angry forum posts. From that moment, the franchise was bruised and has impacted upon how people view new Assassins Creed games. Is it going to work? Ah man, I brought Unity and was bummed out so I’m not buying another AC game. Assassins Creed Syndicate last year went down well with critics but sold soft numbers compared to its predecessors.
Unity’s problems was the nail in the coffin for many people, me being one of them. I was a huge Assassins Creed fan. I adored and got every achievement in Assassins Creed 2 on Xbox 360, brought the collectors editions of future titles and always wanted to scurry up buildings like a wannabe Spider-Man. I knowingly received for Christmas the collectors edition for AC Unity that came with a snazzy statue, and was excited, up until reviews started coming out in November.
With that said, I still played and beat the game without running into the famous glitches I’d heard so much about. However, I still didn’t enjoy the experience because I’m stricken with Assassins Creed fatigue. It was special at one stage, but now, every year, you realise how rotten the core of those games are. The free-running often propels you in the opposite direction you imputed into the controller, the combat suffers in the shadow of the Arkham games for example and the stealth, my god the stealth components to these games is atrocious. The enemy AI are stupidly oblivious to obvious things yet will spot you like a hawk from miles away and start honing in on your location. It all feels and looks so clunky.
Assassins Creed used to be a AAA game I looked forward to every year but now I avoid it like the plague because so many other game on the market do what Assassins Creed does but better. And so, when I heard the news it may be taking time off I blew a sigh of relief. I’ve said many times now that I think the franchise needs to vanish for a solid two/three years, rally all the studios that work on the games and rebuild Assassins Creed from the ground up. Rip up its dated carpet and come back with a fresh re-boot that propels Assassins Creed to the forefront of gamer’s minds.
Even if we get another Assassins Creed game in 2017, that time away from store shelves can’t hurt. Repetition is clearly damaging the franchise, so vanish for a while and let people remember why they love Assassins Creed. The next entry into the franchise is supposedly titled Assassins Creed Empire and is set in Ancient Egypt, with the studio behind it extending development back a year after seeing Unity’s disastrous launch. That setting sounds super dope and if the studio has indeed decided to take more time to work on the game, it gives me a reason to get excited for Assassins Creed again.
You only need to look at some of the open-world games of last year to know that Assassins Creed is fast becoming a relic of a time in which it dominated the space. It is stuck in the past, in more ways than one, and needs to innovate like it did back at its inception. I want nothing more than to love Assassins Creed again, to get lost in the stunning historical periods it so expertly creates, but no longer can it just be a Victorian London setting that entices me to invest in the franchise.
I want to enjoy playing Assassins Creed, not just see it as pretty window dressing. Here’s hoping that more time away helps make Assassins Creed a serious contender in the video game space once again.
Where do you guys stand on the Assassins Creed franchise? Let us know in the comments below or on our social media pages.