First released in November, 2009. I played it originally on Xbox 360, just like the other games in the Ezio trilogy. I just played the remastered version for the PS4.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into this game, it’s been a long time since I last played it and video games have advanced a hell of a lot since then, especially the AC games. What I found wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Controls and Combat
I’ll start with the controls, since they were a big issue that I had playing through this game. You can tell that they were still figuring out their combat and how to maneuver around the city. Constant misjumps, stumbling into people or objects, horrible combat inputs, and just a general struggle with connecting to the locomotion of the character. Having kept up on the AC games, I’ve become accustomed to the improvements they’ve made in the responsiveness of their main characters, so it hurt just a bit going back.
I found combat to be pretty horrible in the game. I would attempt to make a quick assassination, killing one or two people in one fell swoop. Finishing up my animation I constantly hit the assassinate button to get one more foe, and if successful trying again for a fourth. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn’t. When it didn’t I’d then enter “combat” and basically just start mashing the attack button. What happens then is a little confusing, the enemy constantly blocks, so I’d just mash it more and their health would slowly go down until I finished them off with my weapon. It wasn’t elegant by any means, but it worked for me in the end.
I eventually got to the point where I’d slow down and attack strategically. Holding both L2 and R2, then waiting for the perfect frame to counterattack and kill my enemy in one move. It was slow but effective, and a tactic I’d only use if I didn’t feel like rushing through with things.
Smoke bombs ended up being a great asset in a fight with a large group of people. I’d toss one down then assassinate people, one or two at a time. So much faster then spamming an attack button at an enemy until he dies. Combat needs to be improved for the next game for sure.
The world design felt a bit uninspired, or at least generic and a work in progress. Running through the city streets you can tell that it’s basically just a maze, the pattern to the streets makes little to no sense, with tall building on either side, making you feel like a rat in a maze. Getting on the rooftops and jumping between buildings was the best way to navigate. You just want to move fast and get around town with speed and efficiency, but when you run around the streets for a bit, then decide the rooftops would be quicker, you have to try and scale a building, which doesn’t always work out. When it doesn’t it gets annoying really fast.
You can tell that this is a game where the developers are innovating and creating a new system. Whether that’s in the tools they use to design their world or the actual world the player runs around in. Having hindsight and knowledge about where the games eventually do end up, it gives a bit of perspective for what was happening here. Things feel very generic, but also like a good starting point.
Understanding the social context of video games and how they worked at the time of release makes you understand what the team at UbiSoft was up against making this.
The story felt a little basic overall. I loved the use of Leonardo and having him be the Q of this universe. I also like how you play as Ezio throughout the majority of his life, I think this games spans about 25 years, and it continues into the other two games in the series. It’s made me excited to see where the story goes and how the rest of his life/journey unfolds (Since I completely forgot).
I ended up not killing the Pope, (not that it was an actual choice the player had to make) you know, that asshole responsible for killing three members of my family and being a member of the Templars. I’m sure that will all work out well for me, should have just killed the fat bastard. It was kind of funny that this asshole, come to find out at the end of the game, is actually the Pope. The game tosses that out in a bit of dialogue and then he basically shits on religion before we get down to fight.
I did connect that apple onto the staff and walk into an old-ass sci-fi chamber and met up with Minerva, she ended up talking through Ezio to get to Desmond in the Animus, pretty trippy and cool. I love the story of the precursors and how they were advanced people living on earth long ago, leaving clues to help out the human race in the future.
Overall, the story and mission were all pretty basic, a little bit of flavor and then go assassinate someone, or tail somebody. Rinse and repeat, and with the environments mostly looking the same, it wasn’t as exciting as it could have been.
I did enjoy building up my little town of Monteriggioni, upgrading the buildings and buying everything I possibly could in the game just to take in more money in exchange.
I ended up getting the Platinum trophy for the game, it only took a few days. I did enjoy the game, and the journey to get the platinum. Comparing it next to AC Odyssey or Origins, it seems like a commercial break compared to those monsters of games.
I’m going to plow into the next game, AC Brotherhood next. Go for the platinum in that one too, looking forward to how they improve over this game, especially given the release of that game only being a year after this, but i’m sure they had multiple studios working on these.
Overall though, the game wasn’t difficult at all. It was actually a bit breazy in the way you could just move through all the missions and everything. If I wasn’t going for the platinum it could have definitely been a weekend game, that might get a little tiring though since you’d be doing a lot of the same things over and over again.
The missions where you have to tail somebody do get a bit boring, it’s just not that much fun in these games to take it slow and be really methodical about not being seen. It’s also a little odd that you don’t have the ability to crouch and reduce your visibility, I keep wanting to click a button to hide myself like I’m able to do in the more recent games in the series. The feeling you get when you one hit kill a person is probably the highlight of the combat, since if you get spotted you’re just agro’d by everyone around, which is annoying.
One last thing about what bugged me, there are just enemies all over the map in this game, each little street corridor you go down has a group, these cities really have a crazy military budget for sure.
What makes it fun is the environments, running around and jumping off a building to assassinate two guards at once, and the collecting and upgrading of your Vila. It’s just satisfying seeing all your stats and income increase, even though I’d just let the game run while I was doing other things around the house so my character collects money in his bank.