It’s high time we revisited the games that inspired Michael Fassbender to pick up a sword and manipulate his DNA memory.
In the end, it was a bloody massacre. We pitted each of the core sneak-climb-maim games against each other and let them stab, garrotte and shoot each other until only the best survived.
Of course, this was a question made substantially easier if you ignore the mobile ports, Altair’s crummy Chronicles, Identity, Discovery, Bloodlines and Pirates – which we duly did.
Here’s how the chips, cards and bloody limbs fell.
11. Assassin’s Creed Unity (2014)
It turns out that The French Revolution was full of bugs. It may have looked good – when it worked – but a weak storyline, graphical glitches and shonky gameplay left Unity‘s head on the chopping block.
The final blood splatter on the executioner’s robes, however, was the lack of gender options, compounded by Ubisoft’s now infamous “a lot of extra production work” comments to explain the lack of playable female characters. In short: nil points.
10. Assassin’s Creed (2007)
There are a few adjectives that spring to mind when you think of the first Assassin’s Creed – “limited”, “repetitive”, “boring” – but the most important one is “promising”. Frustratingly linear in parts but so full of potential, you’re grateful it exists, even if you’re not going to be replaying it anytime soon.
Mind you, it must have done something right, because eight years and a ton of sequels and spinoffs later, it’s still a regular fixture in the autumn release calendar, and a real money-spinner for Ubisoft.
9. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (2011)
Revelations, the final outing of both Ezio and Altair. Which was a good thing: their storylines were getting a little stale by this point, and Constantinople failed to grab gamers as much as, say, Venice or Jerusalem.
In an attempt to spice things up, Ubisoft added an utterly irrelevant tower defence mini-game and the ability to make bombs. A tip of the cowl to the hookblade, mind, one of the best mechanics in the series, seen here – and only here – in Revelations.
8. Assassin’s Creed 3 (2012)
For 3, Desmond – remember him? – jumped into the memories of his half-English, half-Native American ancestor Connor Kenway as he squared off against his Templar father during the American Revolution. Opening up the scope of an Assassin’s Creed game, the 2012 edition gave players free roam of the Eastern United States, trees and sea and all.
Darting between New York, Boston, “The Wilderness” and the Eastern Seaboard, this was the beginning of Creed‘s nautical adventures. And yet all its grand ideas failed to gel and worse, it took several hours – count ’em, hours – to actually get assassinating. Like the first Assassin’s Creed before it, this felt like the dry-run for something better.
7. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (2015)
GTA meets Assassin’s Creed, Syndicate may be set in the smog-filled streets of Victorian London, but it’s a breath of fresh air after the disaster that was Unity, even if the game engine is starting to creak and groan like a rusty locomotive.
The brother and sister duo of Jacob and Evie Frye are the best leads since Ezio (so wasn’t that tricky then guys?), and the massive Victorian London setting is stuffed so full of landmarks that we think we’ll leave the brand new horse-drawn carriages and walk instead. Sorry Ubi, but thanks anyway.
6. Assassin’s Creed Rogue (2013)
The oft-forgotten red-haired stepchild of the Creed franchise, Rogue is a bit of a gem, with its air rifles, grenade launchers, puckle guns and oil slicks.
It also offered the welcome twist of playing a Templar trying to prevent assassinations, and while it was all essentially an add-on to the better Black Flag, Black Flag was good enough that even a flawed pseudo-expansion pack like this one was still well worth your time.
5. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (2013)
There was so much to do in Black Flag, it felt almost impossible to complete. There was Havana, Kingston, and Nassau, with Spanish, British, and pirate foes, not forgetting explorable Mayan ruins, sugar plantations and shipwrecks, as well as sea forts, jungles and atolls aplenty.
The recruit system from Brotherhood made a welcome return, complementing the now-perfected naval combat. This is also one of the most light-hearted – sorry, light-haaarrrrghted – games in the series, though some complained that it was more of a pirate game than an assassin game. Which, to be fair, it was.
4. Assassin’s Creed: Origins (2017)
This is where the franchise gets interesting. Origins took the game mechanics we have learned to love and flipped them on their heads.
Building on the forgettable (but interesting) minor RPG mechanics found in the first few games – upgrading weapons and armour to improve stats – Origins took strides to make stat progression a core part of the game.
Taking players back to the Ancient Egyptian era – a period of time fans were desperate to explore since AC1 – we followed the story of Bayek, a charismatic, well-developed character that has quietly found a home in the hearts of every Assassin’s Creed fan.
3. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (2010)
With Assassin’s Creed 2 such a success, there was every chance its sequel – and direct narrative follow-up – would fumble the ball.
Brotherhood resolutely failed to fail, taking the much-loved Ezio to Rome and giving him the ability to enlist a group of followers and raise hell. Slick, smart and bags of fun, Brotherhood also nailed the multiplayer mode, and suddenly everyone you knew was jumping in and out of a bale of hay.
2. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (2018)
We absolutely loved this fresh direction that Ubisoft has taken with Odyssey, following on from the impressive work of Origins.
Odyssey is set during ancient Greek legend and the location slots in perfectly with how the game plays out. The narrative is incredibly strong, and you really do feel like you connect with the characters – whether you pick Alexios or Kassandra.
You get a really visceral look at the 300 Spartans who have been immortalised in legend, and it feels like you, as the player, are carving out your own legend.
What’s more, the combat has been totally switched up, meaning you have to be much more active and tactical with your button mashing to defeat the powerful, diverse enemies of the game.
A huge, sprawling RPG mechanic and level progression system makes you feel like you are actually increasing in skill and ability. This is exactly the new breath that AC needed, and is the kind of game to entice jilted gamers back into the fold.
1. Assassin’s Creed 2 (2009)
Easily the most critically-acclaimed title in the franchise’s history, 2 is still seen by many as the perfect entry in the franchise, improving upon the original’s promise more than any critic could have conceived. Beautiful, enjoyable and intelligent, the game was blessed with an immensely likeable lead with Ezio and a storyline that boggled the mind (in the best possible way).
Plus! The magnificent Leonardo da Vinci and his flying machines brought a welcome sense of whimsy and dynamism to the whole running-jumping-stabbing gig.