The lights are on
When Assassin's Creed released in 2007, most gamers had no idea what to make of the strange project. Set in the modern day, the game established a complex fiction about a machine that allowed users to stare back into their own genetic memory and experience their ancestors' lives first hand. As Desmond begins to explore the life of his ancestor, Altaïr, we gamers get to come along for the ride. We discover a richly imagined and researched land at the height of the Third Crusade. The chance to experience history in this new form was remarkable, establishing Assassin's Creed with of the coolest settings in gaming.
In that first game, it became apparent right away that the developers at Ubisoft Montreal had done their homework. Historically accurate architecture and locales are everywhere in the game. The mysterious fortress of Masyaf, Altaïr’s home base in the game, is an actual site in modern-day Syria. In fact, it was the fortress home of the Hashashins, the group upon which the Assassins in the game are based. Venturing out into the vast open world kingdom, players find a landscape meant to echo the lands between Acre, Damascus, and Jerusalem. The northern part of the kingdom is dominated by lush green hills that give way to harsh deserts in the south. While in retrospect, this kingdom had a dearth of real mission content, at the time it was fascinating to cross the countryside on your horse, killing Templars as you went along, and climbing high towers and churches to uncover new viewpoints.
Each of the three cities at the edges of the kingdom has its own distinct identity. Blue-tinged Acre is the classic port city, and it shows the signs of the recent conflict that had given control of the city to the attacking Christian armies. Damascus, with its bright colors and Islamic mosques, feels like a gem in the midst of the desert. Jerusalem feels like a clash of different cultures – a rich, cosmopolitan city with all sorts of nooks and crannies to explore. In each, the city is filled with people going about their business, and reacting to the way you run or walk through the world. As missions progress, you interrogate enemy soldiers for hints to your target’s location, or sit quietly on a bench to eavesdrop on a nearby conversation, deepening the sense that you are a deadly assassin hiding in plain sight.
More recently, other entries in the Assassin’s Creed games have dramatically expanded the complexity of the locations you visit, from trips to Rome and Constantinople to recent adventures in Boston and New York. In addition, other game projects like LA Noire, Red Dead Redemption, and The Saboteur have further developed the potential of exploring a fictionalized historical setting. Nonetheless, Assassin’s Creed tapped the idea early on, showing the potential of an open world rooted in historical fact, and just how big and ambitious such a game world could be using this generation of console technology.
Visiting Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus, and all the lands in between was one of the highlights that made me an early believer in the potential of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. As I think back on what made those locations so intriguing, I’m excited once again to see where (and when) the series will go next.
What was your favorite Assassin's Creed setting? Or for that matter, your favorite historical setting in any video game? Let us know in the comments below.
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For some reason I didn't enjoy 18th century New York and Boston as much as I'd hope because it's in America and we know American history; so to travel back to Renaissance Italy & Constantinople, it lent an exotic & intriguing feel to it that absorbed me more than the recent entry. I also enjoyed running around Jerusalem & Damascus - who knows how those cities were back then.
AC 1 and 2 were by far the best in terms of just about everything. Originality, scope, design, characters, all of it was just amazing. Brotherhood's Rome was not bad looking, but after that it really grew stale.
Jerusalem was the best city in AC, in my opinion. I love AC 2 and 3, but Jerusalem takes the cake for me.
One of the great things about the original Assassin's Creed and a huge part of why I really liked that game.
I couldn't agree more. The great atmosphere & concept of the entire game alone has made it one of my favorite series to play. Feeling of life brought into the Holy Land & other rich times in history make this series amazing to me.
Hands down, Venice in ACII. The setting was beautiful, the colors were rich, it was a fun to freerun through & the music mirrored the atmosphere perfectly (why Jesper Kyd didn't do ACIII is beyond me, his music is synonymous with the series after 4 games). I loved AC3's gameplay, but AC2 is still the best game in the series without a doubt. Connor was kind of boring and slightly unlikable :(
I really enjoyed Italy in ACII, the devs made it feel so alive.
I remember picking this game up and when I stuck in my XBOX and played it I thought to myself that this was the next generation of gaming. The enviroment was absolutely amazing and still is to this day. It was the beginning of a great franchise that set the bar for other developers. And now with AC3 out Ubisoft has set the bar even higher. AC3 is an amazing and very beautifull looking game. I have to say out of all the games I've played this year I am more impressed with AC3 then any other. Great job Ubisoft.....plz make another...I'm thinking what would be interesting is to go back way back in time to the beginning of the very first civiliztion...like maybe go back to the days of the Sumerians or Egyptians. And it would be awesome if the main character was a female protagonist. Just an idea.
A good choice, although I preferred AC2's Italy. I can't wait to visit Colonial America.
my most memorable game that I'm revisiting one of the best games since of that time that really inspired a huge plot and character. also the scenery was outstanding the way everything is placed is like how you would imagine it and it wouldn't be an assassin's creed game without the music of their time, it fits perfectly. also just walking around in ac1 is just one of those moment that you have to experience :D many moments walking around Damascus and Jerusalem just hearing the music and walking in the markets or full crowded streets of the mosaic cultural buildings and architecture :D and acre for its english architecture most impressive tho i wish there were more story line or more assassins that scouted out more locations than just these great cities but i guess that's what events really occurred in that time.. during the march of Sal ha-din and the search for the holy land. (or as its seems) but it was a really kick start to what we can create.. assassins creed is one of those games where we put our imagination to its best.. and ac1 has done it.. being the most historical assassin in history while Hitman is being the most modern (i guess) but non other than the other ac games like the settings of Italy, also the day/night squeal was amazing, if that happened in ac1 then that would DEFIANTLY be the best game that would have made my year!