The gaming world’s view of the Assassin’s Creed franchise seems to have reached a broad consensus of progress, improvement and refinement since the initial game’s inspired arrival. But while many might believe that Assassin’s Creed 2 was what really made the series capitalize on its potential, the creator disagrees.
Patrice Desilets, formerly of Ubisoft, and creative director of the first two Assassin’s Creed titles still thinks the sequel removed large portions of what made the original great. As he sees it, Desmond’s first adventure remains “the purest.”
Considering this broad view of the gameplay that shaped each title, it isn’t hard to see why Desilets parted ways with the Montreal studio in 2010. The creator of the fiction isn’t taking shots at the series’ installments after the original, but does have some interesting ideas about what made Altair’s world special, and why most players missed it.
Speaking with Edge-Online, Desilets noted the ‘purity’ of Assassin Creed‘s open world, allowing players to travel between Middle-Eastern locations at their leisure. The majority of the game was the epitome of a sand-box, when not dealing with Desmond’s twisting storyline (a storyline set to end this fall). it was that open-ended gameplay that Desilets points to as the game’s strength – one which was soon cast aside:
“I like the first Assassin’s Creed because it’s the purest one…There’s a bunch of stories that you can have, but it’s all in your head. You have to create your own adventures. Whereas in Assassin’s Creed II, we created the adventures for you and you’re following them.
“For me, the first one is an amazing toy. The second one is the real game with rules and missions and it’s really precise. But personally I like the poetry of the first one. It’s pure.”
The structure, story and strong characters of Assassin’s Creed 2 did much to eliminate the repetition that most critics pointed to as the original game’s biggest flaw. Wall-climbing, picking pockets and sneaking through crowds is only satisfying for so long, but the compelling dialogue and cinematic delivery that quickly became the focus of the next three games changed all that. Not to mention help convince Hollywood that a feature film version could be spectacular.
Of course, that repetition was largely a result of similar mission design. As Desilets sees it, the elements of the open-world that he found the most ‘poetic’ existed beyond the main thrust of the plot. If you felt that the first game’s story or main quests fell short of the hype, he the mind behind it makes some intriguing points:
“Out in the kingdom, with your horse, there are so many places with little setups with Crusaders where you can tell a story…When you get close to Damascus, there’s a guy on a stage and he has 35 soldiers in front of him. If you kill him, they all chase you. I played that and it became my little story.
“With Assassin’s Creed, our problem was we never actually asked anyone to do it. Most of the players just pass by those setups. But in Assassin’s Creed II, we had a mission for all of them.”
It’s hard to argue without replaying the original game all over again with emergent gameplay in mind. Considering just how close Assassin’s Creed 3 is to arriving, that’s unlikely. There is certainly something to be said for letting the player do the work, generate the tone, and use their imagination. But considering how strong the story of Ezio Auditore eventually got, and the massive success of the AC brand, the company made the right choice.
It’s safe to assume that Desilets is in the minority, given that sales and review scores both pointed to AC2 as the superior product. The emphasis on strong storylines in both the main console experiences and the brand new Vita release have struck a chord with gamers everywhere, not to mention the political debates the developers are keen to spark.
With Assassin’s Creed 3 taking its direction from the more structured and story-driven narratives in the series, Desilets may not get another dose of poetry and purity anytime soon. Then again, the team is approaching its new hero and setting as a brand new property, so anything’s possible.
Assassin’s Creed 3 will be released on October 30, 2012 for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
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