Assassin’s Creed is one of the best-known gaming series in recent history; ever since Ubisoft launched it in 2007 as a substitute for its waning Prince of Persia franchise. The game that was actually supposed to become Prince of Persia: Assassins took a hard turn during the course of its development and birthed a totally different franchise that released 11 main Assassin’s Creed games in total, along with several spinoffs, DLCs, and a movie. Of course, it’s entirely reasonable for a 15-year old franchise to have some ups and downs over the years. Unfortunately, not all games can be best-sellers and critically acclaimed upon release, and several Assassin’s Creed games were, indeed, subject to harsh criticism. But not Assassin’s Creed 2.
Regarded by many as the best Assassin’s Creed game ever, backed up by Metacritic rating, Assassin’s Creed 2 remains the highlight of the series due to its incredible storytelling, fantastic gameplay, and a true Assassin’s Creed gaming experience. It’s probably safe to assume that the younger generations of gamers haven’t played an Assassin’s Creed game older than 2013’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and subsequent releases. So, to bring the topic closer to those who haven’t played any pre-Black Flag releases, let’s embark on a short history lesson that would help younger generations understand why Assassin’s Creed 2 is still the best game in the series.
Built upon the acrobatic gameplay of the Prince of Persia franchise but set in an open world, the newly released Assassin’s Creed from 2007 was a massive hit, primarily as it was set in a historically accurate setting as opposed to PoP’s fantasy setting derived from The Arabian Nights. Everything was better conceptualized; the gameplay, the combat, the action, open-world setting, etc. But compared to Assassin’s Creed 2, the narrative of the original game, which admittedly did set up the franchise for success, now seems crudely developed.
What really made the Assassin’s Creed 2 better than its predecessor was the fact that the in-game cities were bigger and much better-looking, the weaponry was more diverse and upgradeable, and its open-world was much more vivid and open to customization. Gamers could, for example, invest their character’s earned in-game currency to restore the town of Monteriggioni back to its former beauty and glory — when they weren’t killing Templars using the expanded arsenal of weaponry the game had to offer.
But better ways to kill the target were just but a small fragment of Assassin’s Creed 2’s massive success. The game introduced additional gameplay elements such as collectibles, mercenaries, weapon and armor merchants, side missions, and plenty of other mechanics that brought the in-game world to life. It simply offered more interactions than the previous games. This brings us to the most crucial elements of the best Assassin’s Creed game ever produced, and that was its protagonist and its narrative.
Ezio Auditore Da Firenze was the second assassin gamers had the pleasure to control, and that pleasure was never replicated again, despite Ubisoft’s efforts through numerous gaming releases. Ezio is probably the most memorable and beloved protagonist of the franchise due to his quick wit and boyish charm, which is something you would expect from the renaissance-era Italian assassin. These elements of his personality have made him one of the most famous protagonists, not just within his native gaming series but the gaming world as a whole.
Ezio is driven by revenge for the unjust execution of his father and brothers. And his journey to becoming an assassin, confronting Rodrigo de Borgia, the game’s antagonist, and ultimately sparing his life, proved as the ultimate character development arc within one of the most compelling and intriguing narratives the world of gaming has ever seen. The entire story of the best Assassin’s Creed game emphasized the life of a Creed assassin, which ultimately made it very different from the rest of the series. It was balanced equal proportions of emotionally packed narrative and action-oriented gameplay.
Plenty of Assassin’s Creed games have been released since 2009’s Assassin’s Creed 2, but none of them managed to replicate the entire gaming experience. Newer titles in the series, starting with Black Flag, all the way through Origins and Odyssey, are fantastic games in their own right. But the series’ older fans agree that they don’t quite feel like Assassin’s Creed games. By going deeper into the history, past the Persian Hassassins, and into Spartan warrior history, and high-seas piracy, being an assassin seems less important in new releases, and cloak and dagger stealth-type of gameplay and combat is apparently severely diminished.
The newest addition to the Assassin’s Creed gaming series, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, continues to prove why Assassin’s Creed is one of the best gaming franchises in the world. But according to those who have been with the series from the start, Valhalla’s stunning graphics, massive content volume, and gameplay mechanics still can’t compare to the series’ gem that was, and perhaps forever will be, the Assassin’s Creed 2 — the best Assassin’s Creed game ever made.
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