I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed since not long after it came out. When we moved in together and got our PS3, P was really excited that I had the series and picked it up as well. With being as busy as we are, we’ve just gotten around to the newer ones, only recently finishing the third game and now finally moving on to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. (We missed the part where Liberation is in between three and four, and will be playing that next.)
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The series focuses on the millennia-old struggle between the Assassins (who fight for free will and truth) and the Templars (who fight for world order and control, think Illuminati “New World Order” level). The first three focus on Desmond Miles, a present day Assassin kidnapped by Abstergo in the first and forced to relive his ancestor’s life to discover the location of an ancient artifact left by the supposed “First Civilization.” By the second and third, he has escaped and is working with the Assassins to prevent the end of the world (2012, of course). So far the Crusades, Renaissance in Italy, and American Revolution eras have been covered, each with the underlying conspiracies that these events were really fueled by the battle for control between the Assassins and Templars.
I’m a sucker for conspiracy theories. I remember playing through the first Assassin’s Creed when it came out and loving the “Templars/Abstergo Industries are trying to run the world” conspiracy bits. It’s a huge part of what makes the games so successful and so interesting. It’s certainly helped get me hooked on the series. The games do a fantastic job of rather seamlessly incorporating lots of conspiracies: the idea that we descend from an alien race that was here before we were, in this case the “First Civilization,” the idea of a secret group working toward a “New World Order,” the idea that a solar flare or some other catastrophe was going to destroy the earth in December of 2012, and on and on. It’s fascinating to see them all interwoven this way.
When I first saw the trailers for the fourth game, which is set during the “Golden Age of Piracy,” I wasn’t quite sold on making the sailing/ship portion from the 3rd game the main focus of a game, but they seem to have improved the things that made the third one annoying. The controls are better, the ship fights more exciting, there’s even bell diving and hunting (I know PETA hates that, but it’s a fictional game; killing a shark in it does not make me want to go out and kill a shark in real life.)
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The story on this one is interesting; normally you’re playing as someone who is becoming an assassin or is already one, yet in this game you are full blown pirate for about 90% of the game. The lead, Edward, helps out the assassins occasionally if it helps him, but otherwise he’s out gallivanting and looking for his fortune. Also different from the other games is the lead in the non-Animus world. Without any major spoilers from the third game, the lead in this is an unnamed Abstergo employee using the Animus to sift through more of Desmond’s ancestors’ memories to “research a new video game,” but really they’re looking for something called The Observatory. Being inside Abstergo (the Templars’ modern front) and not an assassin has been different, since you’re getting insight into how they convince people to do this research and not know it’s for a world domination plot.
The great thing for me has been how fun it has been just to watch. P tends to do the controls, and I help him spot things on the map or help with puzzles or hunting (which I love a ton for some reason), and yet for the most part I just tend to sit and watch him play. In a shortage of split-screen two-player games, the Assassin’s Creed games are all storied and fascinating enough to keep attention without also playing it personally. It’s been a long time since I had a game that we both wanted to sit and enjoy, even if only one of us is doing the controls (I know it’s snoresville for him when I turn on Skyrim to play solo, and I’m less than thrilled to watch him play old Star Wars games). We’ve done this with all of the Assassin’s Creed games, but Black Flag has me even more interested as a spectator, and I think it’s because of how many improvements they made with the ships; there’s so much more to do with them. Basically, pirating is fun!
It definitely also helps that P sits and plays wearing a hoodie with his hood up every time; he says you have to get into character.