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Opinion

The Ezio Collection Is The Best Assassin's Creed Game In Years

Requiescat in pace.

It’s funny that, for a franchise centred around the exploration of time, Assassin’s Creed fans were more than content revisiting the same era on three subsequent occasions. As the first game drew to an enigmatic close, we envisioned myriad possibilities for a string of sequels, from feudal Japan to the Second World War. Since then, we’ve seen plenty of memorbale historic periods but when it comes to the quality of the games themselves, the trilogy that followed Ezio Auditore will forever be the series’ golden age.

In some ways, Ezio has been a double-edged sword for Ubisoft and its conclave of studios. Back in 2009, there weren’t many lead protagonists in gaming that could boast such effortless charisma and likeability. The fact that we watch his entire life play out across three games and two bonus movies adds yet another dimension. However, in creating such a successful character, Ubisoft had set the bar too high for those that followed.

In Assassin’s Creed III a ridiculous amount of time was put into fleshing out the backstory, yet the payoff simply wasn’t there. Connor Kenway and his one-track mumbling failed to give players the vehicle they needed to explore what was a much bigger, more dynamic game world. While his swashbuckling ancestor fared better, frenchman Arno and Syndicate’s Frye twins have only reminded us how much we miss our darling Italian.

Ubisoft’s three-part remaster is the closest we’ll ever get to seeing him again. Discounting Lineage and Embers (the two aforementioned bonus films) they’ve put together Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood, and Revelations in one comprehensive bundle. Throw in a glut of singleplayer DLC and you’re easily looking at over a hundred hours of great content.

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As expected, each of the three games have undergone some fairly noticeable cosmetic work. The difference between these remasters and the originals isn’t exactly night and day, though each one benefits from much sharper detail and a richer colour palette, dispelling some of that muddy fog that once clung to the periphery.

It’s surprising, going back, just how playable each of the three games are considering their age. Part of the reason why so many of us were hyped for Assassin’s Creed III was the prospect of faster, more fluid gameplay. At that point Ubisoft was pumping out yearly sequels, and that actually made Revelations appear much more fatigued than it actually was.

Despite making some neat changes to the existing formula, our time spent fighting the war for independence was marred by a number of unwelcome overhauls. While navigating terrain became much easier, that same streamlined approach didn’t work for combat. It was similar to the brawling found in Rocksteady’s Arkham series yet lacked the same weight and punchiness. Although some cried out for change, I loved the previous battle system, where a simple counter could trigger an entire chain of killing blows. It felt both fun and empowering, and my time with the Ezio Collection only cements this fondness.

Recent iterations have also lost some of the sandbox feel that made the originals so fantastic and immersive. In Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, civilians crowds are more akin to props than actual live humans. Playing through Brotherhood, throwing innocent bystanders from rooftops or poisoning them still serves as an endless source of enjoyment. Find an old granny, slip her some berserk serum and, sure enough, she’ll charge the nearest person with flailing fists of madness.

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Where recent years have seen incremental changes to the way we navigate each new playground, the movement system wasn’t really that bad to begin with. Assassin’s Creed II is the remaster I’ve spent most of my time playing and it honestly feels perfectly fine. Sure, you’ll miss the occasional jump and may fumble when dropping from ledges, but it’s no way near as bad as a lot of people will remember.

When it comes to Assassin’s Creed, I’m total sucker. From the 2007 original to Syndicate, I’ve bought every mainline instalment, but I can’t say I’ve truly enjoyed any of them since Revelations. That’s the bit that really hurts – throwing money at each passing sequel hoping the series will loop back and recapture its long lost magic.

In short, The Ezio Collection is by far the best Assassin’s Creed game I’ve played in years. All I can do now is hope that Ubisoft has taken stock of the past few years and changed course for its flagship series. We won’t know, of course, until we catch our first glimpse of the rumoured Egypt-themed title.

13 Comments
  1. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    In terms of characters, Ezio is bar the best, but I think Black Flag is probably my favourite game.

    Comment posted on 25/11/2016 at 11:34.
    • MrYd
      Member
      Since: Mar 2011

      Black Flag was a terrible Assassin’s Creed game though!

      A rather fun pirate game, but that’s not what it said it was. Then again, if they’d launched it as a new, non-AC IP, people would have moaned that “it’s just AC with piarates!”

      Comment posted on 25/11/2016 at 11:57.
      • mugsybalone
        Member
        Since: Aug 2008

        Black Flag would be my favourite too. I had a lot of fun with it but I think it wasn’t because it was an AC game. There were a few on-foot sections where I thought, “why am I being stealthy when I have a ship with cannons?”, like they were only added in to justify the title.

        Comment posted on 25/11/2016 at 12:18.
      • Tuffcub
        On the naughty step.
        Since: Dec 2008

        I did like the ship bits the best :)

        Comment posted on 25/11/2016 at 14:45.
    • JR.
      Member
      Since: Apr 2013

      AC2, Black Flag and Syndicate are probably my favourite three games of the franchise but I like all of them.

      Comment posted on 25/11/2016 at 13:14.
    • aerobes
      Member
      Since: Aug 2009

      It’s unquestionably my favourite and I’ve recently started replaying it. The whole thing just feels so cohesive and it does everything well which is unusual for open world games.

      Comment posted on 25/11/2016 at 20:01.
  2. tactical20
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    I’ve enjoyed them all, well, except AC3 of course. I reckon the next one will be the best yet, especially if set in Egypt. But I wish they’d have done a PS4 version of Rogue rather than these remasters. Same goes with Arkham Collection not containing the only one I’ve not actually played before.

    Comment posted on 25/11/2016 at 12:03.
    • JR.
      Member
      Since: Apr 2013

      Rogue was excellent. I hope they do bring it to the PS4 eventually. Maybe they’ll do a Pirate collection with Black Flag, Rogue and Freedom Cry?

      Comment posted on 25/11/2016 at 13:08.
  3. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    I never really warmed to the series but i gave it a fair go. I played 1/4 of the first game, about half of AC II and about 2/3 of AC III. But after a couple of hours of Black Flag i decided i was done with the series.

    Comment posted on 25/11/2016 at 13:48.
  4. MOVE
    Member
    Since: Mar 2010

    The Ezio stories are the only true Assassin’s Creed to me. Everything else should’t have happened hindsight-wise.

    Comment posted on 25/11/2016 at 17:24.
  5. The Lone Steven
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    Apart from BF,which is more of a Pirate game that has to do Assassain-y bits to fufil it’s contract but doesn’t really want to thus doesn’t try that hard, AC has been on a constant decline. 3, whilst the gameplay was improved, it suffered from poor pacing and a very questionable decision to have a 6 hour prologue(Feels like it was meant to be a prologue) then give us Connor. Conner is no means a bad character but kinda bland and erm…. that’s about it. Aside from his heritage. Edward Kenway is a selfish Pirate that ends up changing his ways and is fairly cocky. Ezio is so far, the only Protagnist that seems to be the entire fanbase’s favourite and we had 3 games along with a film covering his life. I think, that may be the franchise’s hidden key to bringing itself around. Focus on just one person, make them as interesting as possible, tweak gameplay etc..

    BF was the last excellent AC game i’ve played and imo, the last entry worth playing in the franchise. Rogue is good but kinda too short and it’s short pace affects it. It also tries to be BF and it’s own thing along with trying to do parts from AC3 and kinda ended up suffering from it.

    Ironic that the best AC game in years is not a new one but a remaster of the Ezio Trilogy. Plus, Batman voices Ezio. :P

    Comment posted on 25/11/2016 at 20:29.
  6. MrYd
    Member
    Since: Mar 2011

    So if we’re ignoring the first game along with Unity/Syndicate (which were both entertaining enough), the only scientific conclusion is 3 > BF > Ezio.

    And by “scientific”, I mean “I’m basing that entirely on the main characters hair”.

    Comment posted on 26/11/2016 at 11:57.
  7. stueeeee
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    These are by far my favourites mainly number 2 but that was the amount of time spent in it due to getting the platinum, never managed the others because of the multiplayer trophies. At least if I get time with this collection I’ll have good shot. I actually did enjoy 3 but only played it last year and BF but skipped Unity. Played a third of Syndicate this year which seemed pretty good, will get round to it again soon.

    Comment posted on 28/11/2016 at 00:56.