The lack of a new Assassin’s Creed game this year has created a vacuum that Ubisoft have decided to fill with a remastering of the life and times of Ezio Auditore.
Assassin’s Creed is one of Ubisoft’s most popular franchises. The games follow the centuries old conflict between the Assassins and the Templars. The basic premise explores the concept of unlocking genetic memory and being able to relive the lives of our ancestors via a device known as the Animus. The Assassin’s Creed gameplay is a third-person mix of stealth and action, with a heavy dose of parkour thrown in for good measure.
Despite the mainly historic locations, the Assassin’s Creed games are actually set in modern times. The contemporary version of the Templars, a company called Abstergo Industries is using the Animus to locate high-tech items leftover from the ancient civilisation that created the human race. They do this by strapping in a modern-day descendant of the assassins, called Desmond, and getting him to relive the life of his ancestors. In the first Assassin’s Creed game this was the life of Altair Ibn-La’Ahad, during the Crusades.
Following the incredibly realised, but content light original Assassin’s Creed game, 2009’s Assassin’s Creed II moved the timeline forward three hundred years plunging us into Renaissance Italy. Ubisoft took on board criticism of the first game to create a feature-packed sequel that would become the template for the next seven instalments.
Assassins Creed: The Ezio Collection includes remastered version of Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. The package also includes the live-action prologue movie, Assassins Creed: Lineage and the animated end-paper, Assassins Creed: Embers, farewelling our hero, Ezio Auditore.
What is missing, however, is the multiplayer elements of Brotherhood and Revelations. Not something that I’m particularly upset with, as the Assassin’s Creed multiplayer experience can still be experienced in later games in the series, if you must.
This collection follows the Italian nobleman, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, son of the assassin Giovanni Auditore and descendant of Altair.
Assassin’s Creed II starts off as a revenge quest, with a young Ezio on a mission to avenge the murder of his father and brothers. Under the tutelage of his uncle, Mario, Ezio learns of his Assassin’s heritage.
Ezio’s adventures take us to beautifully recreated versions of Florence, Venice and even Vatican City. We meet historic figures such as Leonardo da Vinci, who provides Ezio with his hidden blade, and Niccolò Machiavelli.
Ezio’s focus shifts as he becomes aware of the Templars and the pieces of Eden- hi-tech relics left over from the time of beings known as the First Civilization. At the end of Assassin’s Creed II, Ubisoft were still not quite finished with Ezio.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood introduces the recruitment mechanic and assassin missions mini-game that, again, has been employed in subsequent games. Instead of splitting the game up across many different locations, Brotherhood mainly sticks to the one location, the now declining city of Rome.
As with Monteriggioni in ACII, Ezio can use his wealth to improve the city to unlock rewards. The combat system has been further refined and you can know use horses to get about within the city.
Ezio’s final adventure, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was intended as a 3DS game, before being retooled as a “proper” AC game. This may explain the more rudimentary combat system and the bizarre hookblade that Ezio uses to traverse the incredibly beautiful Constantinople.
This remaster is a bit hit and miss. The character models in Assassin’s Creed II are horrible on Xbox 360, by today’s standards, and it would seem that little attention has been paid to fixing them in this remaster. And that’s a bit of a shame, especially as they’ve clearly spent a lot of time improving the textures. I’d be inclined to prefer playing my backwards compatible copy of ACII on Xbox One on the remaster- the muddy visuals masking some of the graphical issues like it did back in the day.
The visuals for Brotherhood are a marked improvement, as the original game was a lot more polished. But it’s the third title in the package, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations that really looks good, the visuals almost on par with those of the new-gen version of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. It’s a shame that ACII and, to a point, Brotherhood, as well, couldn’t have been afforded a little more TLC for the remaster.
There’s no doubt that Ezio’s adventures were a turning point for the series, giving us a likable, if at times stoic protagonist and some simply beautiful settings to explore. The First Civilisation storyline got a bit much in the end, and seems to have been all but forgotten in the later games.
As a package, Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection is excellent value, especially if you’ve only just joined the Assassin’s Creed saga. Old hands wanting to relive Ezio’s adventures will also find lots to enjoy with these complete versions of the games, which include all the DLC packs from the originals.
Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.