With As­sas­sin’s Creed Odyssey tak­ing the his­tor­i­cal se­ries fur­ther back than ever, we take a look back at the gen­er­a­tion-span­ning saga’s own past

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTEST -

Dur­ing its pre­re­lease the first As­sas­sin’s Creed looked like the rea­son to give up your dusty PS2 for good and move to the glo­ri­ous (at the time) world of next-gen. It seemed like a true step for­ward. A huge, his­tor­i­cal open world set dur­ing the first Cru­sades, with cities teem­ing with life where you could blend in with crowds, and, of course, jump off re­ally tall tow­ers di­rectly into hay. It was a leap of faith many were will­ing to take. For the most part the story fol­lows Al­taïr Ibn-La’Ahad in 1191, a mem­ber of the se­cre­tive As­sas­sin Or­der, as the or­gan­i­sa­tion wages a strate­gic war against the Tem­plars for the con­trol of a mys­te­ri­ous pre­cur­sor arte­fact, The Ap­ple Of Eden. Stripped of his Mas­ter As­sas­sin rank af­ter a mis­sion goes wrong at the be­gin­ning of the game, Al­taïr must work his way back through the ranks as he takes on nine con­tracts on be­half of his men­tor. But it also fol­lows Des­mond Miles in 2012. He’s a de­scen­dent of Al­taïr who’s been kid­napped by Ab­stergo, a com­pany front for the mod­ern-day Tem­plars. Us­ing the An­i­mus, tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped by Ab­stergo, the Tem­plars force Des­mond to re­live the mem­o­ries of Al­taïr through his DNA so they can learn more about the Ap­ple.

Ubisoft kept the mod­ern-day el­e­ments close to its chest in the


pre-re­lease for the game, so it came as a bit of a sur­prise. It added a some­times-con­fus­ing layer that, while nicely mys­te­ri­ous in this first game, did end up get­ting a bit over­com­pli­cated in some of the later re­leases. But this fram­ing al­lowed for plenty of se­quel ma­te­rial, and en­abled Ubisoft to in­cor­po­rate into the se­ries a del­uge of con­spir­acy the­o­ries about the on­go­ing se­cret war be­tween the Tem­plars and the As­sas­sins in ways that were some­times so silly they were sim­ply de­light­ful.


Tak­ing many cues from Prince Of Per­sia (at one point As­sas­sin’s Creed was con­cep­tu­alised as a new en­try in that se­ries), the game’s his­tor­i­cal set­ting was some­thing not many other games ex­plored, es­pe­cially not with its level of de­tail. The an­cient cities looked in­cred­i­bly be­liev­able, and were fully in­ter­actable as you slid through crowds, blended in on benches, and clam­bered all over the likes of Da­m­as­cus, Acre, and Jerusalem – you un­locked more dis­tricts as you pro­gressed in the story, the map de­fog­ging as you climbed up tow­ers and used them as view­points to re­veal mis­sions. These cities and the As­sas­sin fortress at Masayf were con­nected by King­dom, a large open world lit­tered with col­lectibles that you rode around on horse­back. King­dom was a neat con­cept, though some­what lim­ited due to tech­nol­ogy con­straints: the map was mostly empty, and mainly just a se­ries of ar­eas con­nected by val­ley path­ways. Struc­tured one as­sas­si­na­tion at a time (though at points you could choose which ones to pur­sue first), you had to build up knowl­edge of the tar­get by un­der­tak­ing var­i­ous city mis­sions. These did get a bit repet­i­tive, be­ing a mix­ture of things like eaves­drop­ping, fol­low­ing peo­ple, and rough­ing lads up. The more you did, the more in­tel you gath­ered about things like un­guarded routes, though when it came to ac­tu­ally un­der­tak­ing the as­sas­si­na­tion you could usu­ally bun­gle your way through it, stealthy or not. Com­pared to later en­tries As­sas­sin’s Creed is quite ba­sic. But it was a jumpin­goff point for so much that came af­ter, both in later As­sas­sin’s Creed ti­tles and city-based open worlds in gen­eral. Go­ing back, things do feel a bit empty; an­i­ma­tions are slow and stiff, and mis­sions repet­i­tive. But all the es­sen­tial el­e­ments are in here, and re­cur all the way through to even the lat­est games in the se­ries.


The free­dom to climb and per­form Leaps Of Faith was in­cred­i­bly em­pow­er­ing.

Com­bat was stiff and hard, un­til you earned the abil­ity to counter-kill just about any­one.

Blend­ing in with crowds, you could nudge peo­ple away to make your way through.

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