Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Why Assassin's Creed is one of the saddest games I've ever played.

At first glance, Assassin's Creed is about people stabbing other people. However, there's more to it than that. Yes, the first two main characters that are introduced, Altair Ibn La Ahad and Desmond Miles are bland, so unidimensional you could say they're non-dimensional. But it's when Ezio Auditore da Firenze is introduced that, to me, the Assassin's Creed franchise not only picks up speed, but emotion and strength as well.

Ezio's is one of the saddest tales I've been told in a while. As a young nobleman, son of a banker, who is secretly a member of an order sworn to protect the world from the Templars, Ezio has little to worry about. He falls in love, have bouts with rival families of Firenze and generally has a kickass life. And then his father is uncovered as the Assassin he is, and so Ezio's father, elder brother and twelve year old little brother are hung for treason. While this is going on, Ezio's sister and mother are raped and almost murdered, leaving the mother in a state of deep shock, unable to speak for at least a decade, with only the occasional hint of recognition: whenever Ezio brings her feathers, something his little brother used to collect.
Ezio's family is hunted by the Borgia, a family who you may or may not know to be some of the most powerful people during the Renaissance, including Rodrigo Borgia, who became pope. It's Ezio's quest to retreive the McGuffin of power from the Borgia, while at the same time becoming a master Assassin. Remember that 'falling in love' I mentioned before? He fell in love with a girl named Cristina, who you visit right before the poodoo hits the fan. After you leave Firenze, she is not mentioned again. The reason for this is that Ezio happened to forget mentioning the fact that he was leaving. She blames him for this and has stopped waiting for him after ten years, and does not take kindly to him seducing her during a masquerade in Venice. It's only a few months later that she admits she always hoped he'd come back. Might seem lovely, except that, at the time of uttering, she is dying in his arms, while he's trying to take her to a doctor. He doesn't get there in time.

And we're not done. The entire series is dotted with Ezio's attempt to form connections with people most of whom who die or are traumatized in some way. There's even a character at the beginning of Brotherhood who I will not forget any time soon, simply because of the way he says things, and what he says. His wife has been killed, after being defiled by the executioner. He tells Ezio he wishes the executioner had just killed her. While he's saying it, he realizes what he just said. He wishes the executioner had just KILLED his WIFE.

This is not a game for children. Despite its superficial aura of badassery and awesomeness, it's a hard world, where sticking to your principles is going to leave you shot, stabbed, bruised and ultimately forgotten, while the monsters become famous.

It's an amazing story, it's well told, and I can't wait to see how it ends.


  1. That's just Renaissance Italy, mind you. The glyph puzzles in AC2 and ACB reveal a 20th century that would make Orwell's 1984 look like the Teletubbies in terms of innocence.
    For example, World War II was planned ahead by Hitler, Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, all four of them Templars, in an attempt to control all the post-war governments.
    Also, want to know how the Templars control everything now without sufficient pieces of Eden? They invented capitalism.

    I like the AC games very much, both story-wise and gameplay-wise. I think it is an excellent example of the fact that games can provide entertainment on an intellectual level that is at least on par with the greatest films and novels.

    I'm afraid we'll have seen the last of Ezio, though. The reason Assassin's Creed Brotherhood wasn't called Assassin's Creed 3, was because they wanted a new Assassin with each new number. All fingers seem to be pointing towards the next game being AC3, with Ubisoft 'considering a female Assassin in a World War II setting'.
    Because, y'know, there are never enough WWII games out there.

  2. It's a good thing they might get sued for that and have to go for a different idea, considering there already IS an assassin's creed-ish game in WW2 with a female assassin. It's called velvet assassin. No-one heard of it.

  3. Isn't that the game where there's sequences of the main character doping herself up, where everything proceeds to be pink, and her clothes turn into a negligee or something?

    If so, I heard of it.

    Still, I agree WWII would be a bad idea. The article I read said it was 'one of several moments in history they were considering', but it was the only one cited, which rarely bodes well.