Thoughts From The Animus: An Introduction

2007 was an awesome year for gaming. With releases such as Bioshock, Mass Effect, Portal, Uncharted, Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4, it’s easy to forget how far gaming has come in just six short years. It’s also a year that just flew by for me, not because of sheer number of games to play, but because I wasn’t playing them.

Halo 3 broke records. Call of Duty 4 started a trend in this industry. Bioshock and Mass Effect are both held very dear to me, both for the same reason – the world building, the characters, the sense of belonging that both games provided.

I turned 17 in 2007. I sat my GCSEs in 2007. I had my first driving lesson in 2007. I spent three nights a week playing in two brass bands in 2007. I was blissfully unaware of a game that would quite literally change my life was released in 2007. That game was Assassin’s Creed.

Until that fateful day in 2009 when I was introduced to Assassin’s Creed, the term ‘gaming’ still meant Spyro The Dragon and Crash Bandicoot. Although I owned a Playstation 2, it served only one purpose – to be a DVD player. Let’s be honest, none of the Spyro games after Year of the Dragon (PS1) actually count! I also owned a GameBoy that I’d been given from my father. I think I played Tetris on it once or twice. That was my entire gaming experience prior to Assassin’s Creed.

What is Assassin’s Creed? According to Wikipedia, Assassin’s Creed is a “historical action-adventure open world stealth video game”.  Since the first release in 2007, the series has spun six main console games, and three handheld spin offs. There’s also an Android/iOS game. The franchise is now so well known that I highly doubt that there’s a person in the gaming world who’s not heard of Assassin’s Creed. There are also films, comics and novels that tie into the series.

When asked what my favourite and least favourite games are, both from friends and in interviews, I quote Assassin’s Creed as being both. I’m also met with the same response; quizzical looks and “Why?”. The answer is simple. Assassin’s Creed is the game that means the most to me, but ultimately, it is a poorly designed game.

In order for the rest of this series of posts to make sense, allow me to give a brief overview of Assassin’s Creed. In this game, you play a character called Desmond Miles who is held captive by Abstergo, a company seemingly dedicated to advances in the technological world. He is held captive because he comes from a long line of Assassins, and he possesses memories of his ancestors hidden amongst his DNA. Abstergo created a machine called the Animus, which allows its user to relive these ‘genetic memories’ through the eyes of the chosen ancestor. Desmond is forced to live through the memories of Altair ibn La’Ahad, a master Assassin from Masyaf.  The game is set in four cities; Damascus, Acre, Jerusalem and Masyaf. The latter is where the headquarters of the Assassin Brotherhood is based, under the guidance of Al Mualim, The Master.

In the next post, I will cover the first twenty-five minutes of Assassin’s Creed, discussing how its two-tier mechanics are introduced and how the tutorial is handled.


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