Assassin’s Creed III is releasing on October 30th, so in preparation for the release of that huge game, I’ve decided to look back on the series history. Since Assassin’s Creed began, the series has seen four core entries, numerous spinoffs, and other media. This editorial will rank the four Assassin’s Creed games from the order of worst to best, and also touch on all the other media that exists within the Assassin’s Creed universe.
04. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
Topping the list as the worst game in the core Assassin’s Creed series is Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. The game disappointed me so bad that it was the only Assassin’s Creed game that I didn’t bother finishing. Honestly, the only reason to play through the game is the story, since it’s exactly the same as all the other games that came before it (albeit with miniscule improvements), except that even the story in Revelations is shoddy at best!
In Revelations, we get to see an older version of Ezio and we also get to control Altair again, the protagonist of the first game. That’s cool, except there’s really nothing fun about this game. It’s intensely, aggressively boring, with no interesting supporting characters, a weak, slow-moving plot (because there was no story to tell anyway), and hardly any new gameplay mechanics to get excited about. Honestly, franchise fatigue started kicking in for me with this series when Brotherhood came out, but I didn’t think they would completely drop the ball with only one installment after that game!
The game is redundant and unremarkable. It’s only saving grace is that the multiplayer is still fun, but of course, Ubisoft has to bog down that experience with their silly Uplay stuff and online pass nonsense. Will they learn their lesson in the future? Doubtful. But honestly, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations looked like the honest to goodness end of the franchise to me until I saw the trailers for Assassin’s Creed III.
03. Assassin’s Creed
Feeding off of the pre-release hype machine, the first Assassin’s Creed, in my opinion, survived only because everyone was just so hyped to play it. It sold regardless of the reviews, which included a few pretty negative ones, because the game was just hyped to all hell. I played the game only a few days after it released, and I can attest that all my gamer friends were frothing at the mouth for this game, watching the E3 trailers over and over again, and preparing to throw down the cash for the pre-order as soon as they could.
At first, the game is very impressive. At the time, the original Assassin’s Creed was one of the best looking video games around. The detail in the environment and the character models was breathtaking, and the lighting was especially incredible. Even the gameplay was really cool at first, feeling like a natural progression of what the Prince of Persia team created, albeit with a lot more free roaming elements.
The first time you jump off of a huge tower and into a barrel of hay is a moment that can only be described as purely epic. The second time…well, it’s still cool. The third time is pretty neat. The fourth time? It gets kind of old. The 100th time? It just becomes annoying. Assassin’s Creed, the original, has a big problem, and that problem is that it’s incredibly repetitive. It has all these good ideas, but executes them sloppily by driving every single thing it does right into the ground. The story is really good, but the game becomes painfully boring, making it a chore to complete.
02. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
I don’t have that many things to say about Brotherhood, but I promise you this list isn’t going to be completely negative. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is very, VERY similar to Assassin’s Creed II, and it was the start of Ubisoft’s awful decision to turn the series into an annual release series. Because of this, I’m going to save a lot of core gameplay elements for the Assassin’s Creed II section of this list…which is the best Assassin’s Creed game in my opinion, obviously.
But back to Brotherhood. Brotherhood is everything that the first game was, plus they added a new system where players can recruit assassins and send them on missions to level them up and all that jazz. I loved this. It was so much fun to recruit new assassins and send them out on missions, then purchase new gear for them and level up their skills so that they become even more powerful for the more difficult missions. Managing my league of assassins was a blast, and I really hope that this feature returns for Assassin’s Creed III.
Another major addition to the franchise with Brotherhood was the far more intricate economy system. In Brotherhood, the entirety of Rome needs renovated. Players can do this by managing their money, buying businesses, upgrading the businesses, completing quests for those businesses, and more. The economy system in Brotherhood is what kept me playing through to the end of the story. I just wanted to keep buying more and more property and fixing Rome up 100%.
And finally, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood added a multiplayer component to the Assassin’s Creed series for the first time. Brotherhood’s multiplayer is a lot of fun as well, though I will say that Revelations has slightly better maps. In the multiplayer, players are given a target, and they have to find this target stealthily, kill them without them escaping, and all the while avoid the assassin coming after them! This is a thrilling and unique take on online multiplayer that provides an experience that simply cannot be found in virtually any other game.
Brotherhood’s biggest flaw is that it’s too much like Assassin’s Creed II. Yet it adds enough new features and ideas to make the game at least still be pretty good. Revelations just takes everything that Brotherhood added, rehashes it, and adds a new tower defense style mini-game that I liked (though everyone else seemed to hate), but it wasn’t enough to make it good enough for the Assassin’s Creed name.
01. Assassin’s Creed II
Imagine all the good ideas that were in the first game being executed damn near perfectly, and that’s what Assassin’s Creed II is like. The first game was hyped as being the next big thing in video gaming. It wasn’t. In my opinion, Assassin’s Creed II exceeds the hype that was built for the first, as well as the hype for it, and is truly a gaming classic, and one of the overall best experiences I’ve had in the seventh generation of gaming.
In Assassin’s Creed II, players are treated to a brand new character named Ezio, that was infinitely more entertaining and relatable than Altair. We literally see his story begin from his birth, so it’s a lot easier to become invested in Ezio’s character. Furthermore, Assassin’s Creed II has an epic plot with an astonishing twist that would set the tone of the series going forward, introduced plenty of new features, and also included a strong supporting cast to make the plot that much more engrossing.
Assassin’s Creed II adds side objectives that are genuinely fun to complete. These include a series of dungeons that focus entirely on platforming, which results in really incredible platforming sequences that are a lot of fun. Assassin’s Creed II also features a vastly improved combat engine that focuses on counters and quick offense, which results in strategic and challenging fights.
Somehow, Assassin’s Creed II also brought better graphics to the table. A far improved audio presentation, more gameplay variety, and a perfectly paced storyline all work together to create the best Assassin’s Creed experience to date. Assassin’s Creed II is the best Assassin’s Creed game that has been released so far, and I feel like the only game that has a chance of topping it is coming out this fall in the form of Assassin’s Creed III on October 30th.
THE OTHER GAMES
For the sake of simplicity, I did not include the spinoff Assassin’s Creed games that have released on other devices. However, I will still point them out and recognize them in this editorial, as well as give a little bit of a description about what they are, when they were released, and more!
Assassin’s Creed: Altair’s Chronicles
Set before the events of the original game, this spinoff released in 2008, a year after the release of the first game. It stars Altair and was released for the Nintendo DS as well as various mobile platforms.
Instead of free roaming, this game is a third-person action game with stealth and puzzle elements. Honestly, from checking out gameplay videos and stuff, the game does look pretty cool. I wish I had the chance to try it out, but I assume that it’s near impossible to find nowadays, seeing as everyone is getting rid of their DS stock to make room for all the shiny new 3DS games on the way.
Altair’s Chronicles received average reviews, but it looks like it would have been pretty fun to me.
Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines
Acting as a sequel to the original, this spinoff was also available as a handheld title. However, instead of releasing for the Nintendo DS and various other platforms, the game is available only as an exclusive to the PlayStation Portable.
Once again starring Altair, the purpose of this game is to bridge the gap between the original Assassin’s Creed and the stellar Assassin’s Creed II. Bloodlines received even worse reviews than Altair’s Chronicles, resulting in an average below 70% on GameRankings. However, I’m sure fans of the series would still get a kick out of a handheld Assassin’s Creed adventure.
Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery
The first spinoff based on Assassin’s Creed II was available on the Nintendo DS as well as iOS platforms. Apple made a big deal about this game during one of their keynote presentations in an attempt to show off the gaming capabilities for their iOS devices.
Regardless, the game released in 2009 in conjunction with Assassin’s Creed II, though it takes place years after the events of the main game. It received better reviews than any of the other Assassin’s Creed spinoffs so far, but it still only managed to earn a meager reception from the gaming press.
Assassin’s Creed: Project Legacy
Do you know what Assassin’s Creed needed? If you guessed “a Facebook game!” then well, you guessed right, I suppose! In order to keep players enthralled in the Assassin’s Creed universe, Ubisoft has made an effort to make Assassin’s Creed appear on nearly any gaming platform you can possibly imagination, and the browser-based Facebook is certainly no exception.
While most gaming critics ignored the game, it has actually been played quite a bit. Ubisoft thinks that the audience that plays Project Legacy is not the same that plays the core Assassin’s Creed games, so perhaps this Facebook project is truly helping the series branch out and reach new and different gamers. A few new DLC packs have been released for this text based adventure game, and even more content is on the way!
Assassin’s Creed III
This is the future of Assassin’s Creed. Featuring a brand new setting, a brand new protagonist, and a cast of characters that American gamers will probably be able to keep track of a bit better, Assassin’s Creed III looks incredible. It’s been in development for years by the team that developed Assassin’s Creed II, and is coming along very nicely.
Almost everything about this game simply just looks awesome. I was down on the Assassin’s Creed series after playing Revelations, which was a complete bomb to me, but the trailer for Assassin’s Creed III won me back in a hurry. The game looks like pure fun, and it looks like a truly incredible Assassin’s Creed experience. I will have to reserve my final judgment until I finally get to play the game this fall, but I am very excited to finally get to do so.
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation
An upcoming Vita exclusive, this game is likely to be the first handheld Assassin’s Creed that turns out to be actually very good! Due to the Vita’s horsepower, Liberation definitely has the potential to be the best handheld and most true handheld Assassin’s Creed game. It releases on the same day as Assassin’s Creed III, October 30th, so if you’re a Vita owner, this game is looking to be the biggest Vita game of the upcoming fall gaming rush.
THE OTHER STUFF
But what about all the other Assassin’s Creed media? Well, the Assassin’s Creed series has expanded quite nicely. It has become Ubisoft’s flagship franchise, the IP that they are pushing harder than any of their other games, easily. Because of that, Assassin’s Creed has evolved beyond the realm of video games and has stepped foot in other forms of artistic media.
For example, there are numerous Assassin’s Creed graphic novels, though a lot of them are French language only, as well as many comic books. There are Assassin’s Creed novels, including ones that continue the story of Assassin’s Creed as well as novelizations of the video games.
Perhaps more exciting, a short film was created based on Assassin’s Creed named Assassin’s Creed: Lineage. This inspired Ubisoft to create short films of their own, albeit their films are of the animated variety. The first of which is Assassin’s Creed: Ascendance, which is a film available for download that explains what happens in the time that separates Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (as short though as that time may be, ahem).
The other animated film is called Assassin’s Creed: Embers. Embers takes place after the events of Revelations and looks to tie up the loose ends. The main point of the film is to finish the story of Ezio, the main protagonist of many of the games, including the heralded Assassin’s Creed II.
But what about the future? Well, news has recently broke about Ubisoft potentially developing a feature film based on Assassin’s Creed. Ubisoft has revealed that the film will be shot in 3D, and there are rumors that Michael Fassbender has been signed on as a producer as well as the star of the movie. Other than that, no new information about the Assassin’s Creed movie has been released. It is unknown whether the film will follow the plot of the video games or tell its own story all together. I imagine that we will hear more about this potential film after Assassin’s Creed III ships later this year.
Well, there you have it. My personal opinion on what the best Assassin’s Creed games are, as well as a retrospective on the series. If you are looking to get into the series but don’t want to play the games that I have deemed as “bad”, then I highly recommend still trying to digest the story someway or another, whether that’s by watching the cut-scenes on YouTube or reading the plot summary on Wikipedia, because regardless of its faults, the Assassin’s Creed story is an epic and incredible one that stands tall as the proudest and most original gaming story of this console generation, easily. Assassin’s Creed is not perfect, but the next game in the franchise looks like it just might be.