I’ve been riding alongside the assassins since the beginning. I’ve grown accustomed to the iconic look of Altair’s signature assassin garb as the series hurdled its way toward the modern age. Whenever someone mentions templars, I can’t help but look into an invisible camera and mutter that I hate those guys. With last year’s releases of both Rogue and Unity, I’d like to put my thoughts on the series thus far into a power ranking list.
Here’s my listing of Assassin’s Creed games I’ve played from my least favorite to my favorite:
7. Assassin’s Creed III
Assassin’s Creed III is, in the kindest words, a revolutionary disappointment. It takes the assassin brotherhood into the trees, but it’s there that ACIII appears to get lost. It introduces some story wrinkles that are interesting at the very least, but the package felt like a slog well before its final hours. Stealth was damn near impossible, the hero Connor Kenway was often stoic to a fault, and the whole affair left me wanting more of what had come before.
6. Assassin’s Creed
This right here is the grand-daddy of all things Assassin’s Creed. It was rough around the edges, but contained so much promise. Hiding among the crowds, profiling your target, delivering the fatal stab… Altair was a methodical badass. The introduction of the assassins, templars, the questionable company Abstergo and its memory-simulating Animus machine was a sensory overload of action and science fiction. That ending had me like, “WUT???” though.
5. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
I could feel the fatigue radiating from the Assassin’s Creed II trilogy not too long into my play-through of Revelations. Ezio is an older grey-faced man at this point and I was wondering what would be next for the series. The game itself is essentially Brotherhood with a couple extra gadgets and an inoffensive tower defense mini-game. I was able to get some thrills and closure out of this entry, but it was hardly evolutionary.
4. Assassin’s Creed IV: Freedom Cry
While it’s an expansion for Black Flag that I didn’t finish, Freedom Cry still gets points with me for allowing more time with the Jackdaw’s first mate Adéwalé. The man is a beast for one thing, but using him to liberate slaves is even better. The downside is that a lot of Black Flag’s freedom here is lost (ironically?) and it felt like more of a challenge sandbox. I’m honestly kind of surprised I didn’t complete this experience. It could have been because of Black Flag fatigue or the timing of another game’s release, but I’d like to think I can give this another go-around on a rainy day.
3. Assassin’s Creed II
This is where the series really got me interested. Playing as Ezio for the first time really gave me a taste of what the series could achieve in terms of its premise, sending players back in time to visit a band of badasses within Desmond’s lineage with more complex back-stories. I scaled those Italian structures for weeks, just taking it all in and finding any excuse I could to play. ACII is absolutely pivotal to not only this series, but components I’ve enjoyed about the last several years of video gaming itself.
2. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Take everything I’ve said above about ACII and make it about pirates. I’m not going to lie, this is a comeback game and it did right by me. It fixed the stealth, characters and general sense of exploration that ACIII had nearly ruined. I’m not exactly a fan of large bodies of water, for real or in game, but I felt compelled to sail this ocean and see every island for myself. Maybe it was because of the joy that Assassin’s Creed was back on track. Maybe it was the pirate shanties. Definitely the shanties.
1. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Black Flag and Brotherhood are almost interchangeable for me in the top spots, but the deciding factor was time. Even though it’s a sequel to a sequel, Brotherhood overflowed with content that got me hooked in unexpected ways. With Ezio already deep into the assassin life, a strong focus on building your chapter turned a series that was about being a lone wolf into a gang simulator for a romantic time period. Summoning assassins never got old, so much so that this feature continued to show up in the following games. Tailing a dude just to whistle for an assassin in waiting to spring from the rooftops and drop him dead felt powerful. Fighting waves of guards while a couple members of your crew clashed swords around you made the influence of your cause tangible. It remains the peak of my AC experience.
Secondly, this was the first game to have multiplayer. As I began to move away from the fast-paced violence of Call of Duty and its ilk, I slipped into the slower and more methodical mind-games of Brotherhood. I was excited to hop online, blend into crowds, disguise myself and stick the daggers to my targets when they least expected it. I played so much that I actually reached max level, which is a huge deal for me!
Having made this list, I will admit that I’ve tried a demo of Liberation and haven’t played a lick of Unity or Rogue at this point. Do I plan to? I like to think I’ll get another AssCreed game under my belt in 2015. Assassin’s Creed is a series that has taught me how to climb, how to lay low and, most importantly, how to soar among the eagles.