MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE ASSASSIN’S CREED SERIES AHEAD
Cor Blimey! Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is coming to Blighty! Put the kettle on, grab yourself a cuppa, and all that bollocks. As a Brit, I’m excited to see English people being slain at home rather than in some bland Boston suburb. Plus, I can’t stress how much I’ve wanted to jump off Big Ben in the past, if only so I don’t have to live another rainy day in this festering swill of a country.
I’m only fooling! That’s good ole’ British sarcasm for you. Anyway, what better way to celebrate Syndicate than by staring lovingly at the most memorable moments of games gone by? Although the narrative has often strayed into lunacy, there’s still more than enough AC awesomeness to go around. So, let’s make a list, shall we?
Assassin’s Creed 2 – Da Vinci’s Flying Machine
Maybe this mission would’ve been better as a surprise instead of being draped all over IGN’s pre-release coverage like a Ubisoft-promoting courtesan. Still, soaring through the skies on Da Vinci’s birdlike contraption and kicking guards off chimneys was well worth the wait.
The flying machine was symptomatic of the second game’s flare for the original. After all, Assassin’s Creed 2 is still where innovation was alive and kicking in the franchise. It had a more likable main character in Ezio and possessed a host of other changes made with fans in mind. The series would then dwell on Ezio’s life way too long, but let’s not dwell on that.
Assassin’s Creed – Final Battle with Al Mualim
What’s that? The old man you talk to at the start of every bloody assassination is actually the baddie? Why didn’t you tell me this sooner? Instead, I’ve had to traipse all the way through the assassin’s guild, blag my way through half the Middle-East, and kill a load of people. But, no. It was Al Mualim all along, straining to keep a straight face throughout those painfully long briefing cutscenes where you just. . . couldn’t . . . leave.
As final boss battles go, Al Mualim’s was certainly less formulaic than the usual ‘hold-x-to-counter’ combat that plagued the first game. Spawning plenty strong clones within a very tight space made for Altair’s greatest challenge. Then again, I was so pissed off that I’d been lied to for fifteen hours that nothing could stop me. I was like an Arabic Arnold Schwarzenegger, cleaving through clones with no remorse. 15 hours. What a bastard.
Assassin’s Creed 3 – Return to Abstergo
Connor’s plot was dreary, but Assassin’s Creed 3 finally let Desmond flex his parkour muscles in the present. The game was infinitely better for it. In fact, the modern setting worked so well that it’s surprising that Watch Dogs, a futuristic AC clone in all but name, didn’t fare better. That’s a game derailed by its own hype train if there ever was one, folks.
In particular, returning to Abstergo after all those years was almost poignant. Here was where Desmond’s tale began; when all we knew was that strange white-walled room, that bad-ass animus machine, and a grumpy old coot called Vidic. Now here we were months later facing off against the Templar’s last bastion with the Apple of Eden in hand. Desmond was ready to claim vengeance for it all. It felt good.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – The Siege of Monteriggioni
Besieging an entire stronghold is one thing, but interrupting a game protagonist mid-coitus by firing a cannonball through his window? That’s downright evil. The siege of Monteriggioni made for an epic ‘hold-the-fort’ mission that cemented the villainy of Borgia scumbag Cesare. But, don’t feel too bad for Ezio’s uncle. He did say the immortal line, “its’a me, Mario,” after all.
After leaving his quarters, a vulnerable Ezio flees via horseback in a daring escape through cobbled streets. There’s no time to look around. But, if you do, you’ll see just how far this game has come graphically. Take in the gritty destruction of the environment, the realistic animations of villagers fleeing for their lives, and the smooth transition from cutscene to gameplay. You’re practically in the Minas Tirith battle from Return of The King, give or take a few ring-wraiths.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Blackbeard’s Demise
Few would’ve guessed how successful Black Flag would be considering how far removed its core gameplay was from prior AC games. It was devoid of the pretentious robe-wearing rubbish for one thing, and AC3‘s surprisingly good sailing suddenly became the central focus of Kenway’s adventure.
However, none of these games can escape a jolly good death scene, and Black Flag was no exception. I don’t know what it is, but Blackbeard’s death aboard the Man o’ War hit me harder than the rest. Sure, he wasn’t the most sanitary character (in either sense of the word), but he was a damn sight less of a killjoy than Kenway’s wife. What’s more, the sad soundtrack, layered over a player-controlled escape afterwards, was enough to well a tear in even the most pirate-hardy eyes.
From the look of Syndicate, we could be getting a couple more sensational AC moments in the weeks to come – sensationally British moments, that is. I’m personally hoping the Assassin’s hub is in a teahouse, and that they transport messages in Pints of Old Brewer Ale, carried by union jack-wearing bulldogs.