- "Jerusalem, the twelfth century. Amidst the chaos of the Third Crusade, a Brotherhood of warriors rose to power. Shrouded in secrecy, feared for their ruthlessness, they alone would save the Holy Land, or destroy it. They were the Assassins."
- ―Assassin's Creed E3 Trailer.
Assassin's Creed is a 2007 sandbox style action-adventure-stealth video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. The game was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in November 2007 and for PC in April 2008.
The game centers around the use of a machine dubbed the "Animus", which allows its user to view the genetic memories of his or her ancestors, centering around the protagonist, a bartender named Desmond Miles. As Desmond relives the memories of one of his ancestors, the Assassin Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad who lived in the Holy Land during the Third Crusade, details of a battle between two ancient sects – the Knights Templar and the Assassin Order – emerge as both scour for an artifact known only as a "Piece of Eden."
Assassin's Creed received primarily positive reviews, for both its story and its gameplay, and received several awards at 2006's E3. In November 2009, a sequel in the form of Assassin's Creed II was released, building on the foundation set by Assassin's Creed.
Assassin's Creed is a non-linear action-adventure video game, during which the player controls a 12th century Levantine Assassin named Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad during the Third Crusade, whose life is experienced through the Animus by his 21st century descendant, Desmond Miles. The overall goal of the game is to rise through the ranks of the Assassin Order by carrying out a series of assassinations given by the leader of the Order, Al Mualim. In doing so, Altaïr travels from Masyaf to cities in the Holy Land, specifically Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus.
Upon arrival in any of the cities, Altaïr must locate an Assassins' Bureau and discuss his tasks with the Rafiq (an agent of the Brotherhood) there, gaining basic knowledge of his target. From there, it is up to Altaïr to perform additional reconnaissance via eavesdropping, interrogation, meeting with informants, and gathering important items. It is only after Altaïr has gathered enough information that he can carry out the assassination. After successfully completing an assassinations, Altaïr returns to Masyaf to debrief with Al Mualim, and is subsequently rewarded with better equipment, before he is given the names of his next targets.
Between main memories, Desmond must direct Altaïr to high points in the city to further synchronize his surroundings and map out the city that Altaïr is currently located in. Other side memories include tracking and killing Templars, flag collecting, and saving citizens who are being threatened by city guards.
Accompanying this, Altaïr needs to carry out most of his actions without being noticed by officials. The game uses a meter dependant on social stealth to inform the player of how noticeable Altaïr is to surrounding individuals, including the guards, by changing the color and shape of the Abstergo logo; performing certain actions at certain times may or may not raise the local area's awareness level. If an area is on high alert (the logo becomes red, and the entire synchronization interface earns a red tinge and background), guards will be always vigilant and citizens will run and scatter in various directions in the event that the guards chase and attempt to bring down Altaïr. To reduce his notoriety, Altaïr must break the guards' line of sight and then find a hiding place, blend in with wandering scholars, or join citizens sitting on benches.
To conduct many of the assassinations and various other tasks, Altaïr is capable of both high and low profile commands, both of which affect the alertness level. Low profile commands will allow Altaïr to blend into crowds, hide, and use Altaïr's Hidden Blade to attempt quiet and low profile assassinations. High profile commands increase alertness at a greater level and include free-running, attacking foes, and high profile assassination attempts. In the event that the player finds themself faced with multiple enemies, one can utilize Altaïr's sword-fighting abilities to combat guards.
Health in Assassin's Creed is measured as the level of synchronization between Desmond and Altaïr's memories. Whenever Altaïr is injured, it is experienced as a deviation from the actual memory that occurred and synchronization decreases. If there is complete desynchronization, the current memory that Desmond is experiencing dematerializes and restarts at the last stable checkpoint.
Because Altaïr's memories are rendered by the Animus software, "glitches" may often be experienced with nucleotides and error messages appearing. These glitches can be used to help identify targets and if the player reacts quickly enough, may be used to provide other vantage points during cut-scenes.
Desmond Miles, a bartender, is kidnapped by the company Abstergo Industries for use as a test subject in the "Animus," a device that can simulate genetic memory. Abstergo intends to put Desmond in the device to recall the memories of his ancestor, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, a member of the Assassin Brotherhood in the year 1191, who lived during the Third Crusade in the Holy Land. Initially, Desmond has trouble adjusting to the device, but eventually relives Altaïr's exploits over the next several days. The game then primarily changes to Altaïr's point-of-view, with occasional transitions to Desmond, due to problems with the Animus or Bleeding Effect.
The game opens with Desmond entering Altaïr's memory, but he soon faces synchronization problems. On this, Lucy Stillman and Warren Vidic's voices can be heard, arguing over Desmond's safety within the Animus. After experiencing a few problems, Desmond exits the virtual machine and Vidic briefs him about the Animus' inner workings, before initializing the machine's tutorial program. After Desmond is done with the tutorial, he enters the closest synchronizable memory of Altaïr; Lucy adds that Desmond has to relive key moments of Altaïr's life to increase his synchronization, before reaching the final memory which holds the information that Abstergo is seeking.
Altaïr is first shown attempting to retrieve one of a series of artifacts known as the "Pieces of Eden" from Solomon's Temple with the help of Malik Al-Sayf and his brother Kadar, but they stopped by Robert de Sable, Grand Master of the Templars and sworn enemies of the Assassins. While retrieving the treasure, Altaïr breaks all three tenets of the Assassins' Creed in an attempt to kill Robert, but he ultimately fails. In the following commotion, Malik's brother is killed, and Malik's left arm is crippled and later amputated. When Altaïr returns to the Assassins' stronghold at Masyaf with apologies, Malik, who survived de Sable, comes back with the artifact and disparages Altaïr because of his arrogance.
After narrowly defeating a retaliatory attack by the Templars, Al Mualim, leader of the Assassins, demotes Altaïr to a novice but gives him another chance to rise through the ranks of the Brotherhood. Al Mualim assigns Altaïr the task of assassinating nine key figures across the Holy Land in Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus, aiming to bring peace between the Crusader and Saracen forces. Each target is based on an actual historical figure from the Third Crusade, including Majd Addin, Garnier de Naplouse of the Knights Hospitalier, Jubair al Hakim, Abu'l Nuqoud, Grand Master Sibrand of the Knights Teutonic, William of Montferrat, and Robert de Sable.
Altaïr completes each task, learning how each target is connected to Robert and the Templars and how together they aim to end the Crusades and place the Holy Land under their own control. With men on both sides killed, he discovers that Robert's last plot is to attempt to unite the Christian and Muslim forces against their new common enemy, the Assassins themselves. Altaïr defeats de Sable before Richard the Lionheart, failing to convince the King that an end to the war would be welcome to both sides, but ending Robert's plot. From de Sable, Altaïr discovers that Al Mualim was himself a member of the Templars and used the Assassin to kill the other members who held to secret to the treasure's power, so that he could selfishly keep the artifact for himself.
Altaïr quickly returns to Masyaf and approaches his master, who reveals the truth to him: the Piece of Eden, which he had recovered through the help of Altaïr directly before his transgression, creates illusions. He denounces religion and other seemingly supernatural events (e.g. the Ten Plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and the presence of the Greek Gods in the Trojan War) as illusions caused by the Piece, and then states his intention to use the artifact to compel mankind into a brainwashed state, and in doing so, bringing an end to all conflict; Altaïr is eventually able to see through deceptions created by the artifact to kill Al Mualim. When Altaïr recovers the artifact, the Piece of Eden activates, showing a holographic view of the world with numerous locations of other Pieces of Eden marked across the globe.
When the process is complete, Desmond learns that Abstergo is a modern-day front of the Templars, and they are already seeking other artifacts at locations identified in Altaïr's memories. Further, he learns that the modern-day Assassins had tried to rescue him before the memory had completed but had failed. Following this, Desmond was to be killed after an order of a high ranking Templar, Alan Rikkin, but Lucy Stillman saves him from death and, at one point, tucks her ring finger into her palm, referring to the Assassins' tradition of cutting off the finger.
Though Desmond remains trapped in the Abstergo laboratory, his experience in the Animus has created a Bleeding Effect of Altaïr's life in his own, allowing Desmond to use Altaïr's Eagle Vision, which, in turn, allows him to see strange messages painted on the walls of his room and the floor of the lab. The messages all deal with various forms of the end of the world from different cultures, including several references to December 21, 2012, the date that Abstergo plans to launch a satellite that will "permanently end the war." It is hinted that this method would be by the same method that Al Mualim hypnotized Masyaf, only on a larger scale. Finally, the game ends with Desmond wondering what the images all mean and who could have drawn them.
- Kristen Bell as Lucy Stillman
- Philip Shahbaz as Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad
- Nolan North as Desmond Miles, Abbas Sofian
- Philip Proctor as Warren Vidic
- Peter Renaday as Al Mualim
- Haaz Sleiman as Malik Al-Sayf
- Alain Benatar as Jabal
- Carlos Ferro as Damascus Bureau Leader
- Jean-Philippe Dandenaud as Robert de Sable
- Ammar Daraiseh as Tamir
- Hubert Fielden as Garnier de Naplouse
- Jake Eberle as Talal
- Harry Standjofski as William of Montferrat
- Fred Tatasciore as Jubair al Hakim, Abu'l Nuqoud
- Richard Cansino as Majd Addin
- Arthur Holden as Sibrand
- Eleanor Noble as Maria Thorpe
- Marcel Jeannin as Richard I
- Jennifer Seguin as Animus
In one of the original interviews with IGN, game producer Jade Raymond described Altaïr as a "medieval hitman" with a "mysterious past" and definitely not a time traveler. In October 2007, an IGN Australia interview described the lead character's ability to climb and free-run as being designed by the individuals who developed the mechanic for the Prince of Persia series.
In December 2006, Kristen Bell, who voiced Abstergo researcher and employee Lucy Stillman, gave the first concrete information about the plot, confirming a focus on genetic memory and a corporation's search for descendants of an assassin.
Ubisoft also released "developer's diary" videos on the game's website with members of the development team, including creative director Patrice Désilets and producer Jade Raymond, explaining the thought processes behind the various aspects of the game.
The musical score for Assassin's Creed was composed by Jesper Kyd and the entire soundtrack was developed to "capture the gruesome atmosphere of medieval warfare but also be edgy and contemporary." The score was written to contain orchestral music with dark and ominous overtones. Many of the tracks also contain choruses and vocal tracks in Latin to cement the darker elements of the game and the time period of the game's setting.
Prequels and sequels
In February 2008, Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles was released for Nintendo DS as a prequel for Assassin's Creed. Developed by Gameloft, a mobile version was also released for the iPhone and iPod Touch in April 2009.
In January 2009, Ubisoft confirmed the production of Assassin's Creed II, which was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in November 2009. The sequel continued the story started in Assassin's Creed with a different set of genetic memories created to be explored by the player.
At the same time, Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines was released for the PSP. It was comprised as another spin-off game in the same vein as Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles, where the story of Altaïr continued a month after Assassin's Creed. The style of the graphics and the gameplay also resembled the first game more than its predecessor Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles.
In November 2010, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was released. It continued the story of Ezio Auditore da Firenze from Assassin's Creed II and the modern day Assassins' story. It is also the first full game in the series to feature a multiplayer mode.
In November 2011, Assassin's Creed: Revelations was released. The story of Ezio came to a close when he traveled to Constantinople to find the five keys to Altaïr's library under Masyaf's castle. The keys also allowed Ezio to see memories of Altaïr's life preceding and following the events of the first game. This also allows the player to once again play as Altaïr.
In October 2012, Assassin's Creed III was released. Although having almost nothing about Altaïr, it continued Desmond's story in the form of Ratonhnhaké:ton. However, Altaïr's outfit was available when Desmond completed each main story mission with full synchronization.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is set to release on October 29, 2013. The game tells the story of Edward Kenway, the father of Haytham Kenway and grandfather of Ratonhnhaké:ton from Assassin's Creed III.
A limited collector's edition of the game was released in North America alongside the standard release. The North American edition contained a collectible three inch Altaïr figurine, a Penny Arcade Comic, a mini strategy guide and a bonus disc. The bonus disc included behind the scenes videos, developer diaries, trailers, production team interviews, and the winners of the Assassin's Creed short film contest. A European limited edition of the game was also released which included a twelve inch Altaïr figurine, art book, and bonus disc. The bonus disc contained several short films and content similar to the North American version.
In addition to the game, a steelbox was released, which held the Assassin's Creed: Graphic Novel, a bonus disc and a certificate of authenticity. It was decorated with the Assassin insignia and Animus effect symbols, while on its back a picture of Altaïr was displayed. The steelbox left space to insert the game itself (of any platform) as it was not included.
- The game's timeline spanned roughly two months, from July (around the aftermath of the Crusader victory in the siege of Acre) to early September 1191 (right before the battle of Arsuf).
- The Assassins are based on an Islamic sect known as the Order of the Hashshashin from which the term assassin originates, the idea for it coming from Blitzkrieg to Desert Storm: The Evolution of Operational Warfare by Robert M. Citino, along with Vladimir Bartol's novel Alamut.
- The siege of Masyaf borrows elements from Vladimir Bartol's novel. In the novel the leader of the Assassins orders two of his men to kill themselves as a demonstration of his power. The two men jump from a tower with smiles on their faces, much in the same way Altaïr performed a Leap of Faith from Masyaf Castle.
- One of the key inspirations of Raphael Lacoste, the Art Director and Production Designer of Assassin's Creed, was Orientalist paintings, particularly the lithographs of the Holy Land and Syria by David Roberts.
- The popular phrase used to describe the Assassins' maxim "Laa shay'a waqui'n moutlaq bale kouloun moumkine" is Arabic for "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted." This quote is generally attributed to the founder of the Hashshashin, Hassan-i Sabbah.