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You read that right. For far too long, the NPCs of Assassin's Creed have been sidelined or dispatched in the pursuit of a higher purpose without an adequate acknowledgement of their sacrifice. Unwilling sacrifice, I add.
I'm playing Assassin's Creed 2 as I've not played it before. I started with Assassin's Creed 3 (why are you booing me?), moved onwards to Syndicate (enough of the booing, please) and then leapt into Origins (thank you). The series became more and more sophisticated with every entry, expanding on every gorgeous historical open world until we got Valhalla, which was set in a number of countries hundreds to thousands of miles apart. It's possible that you went a little overboard there, Ubisoft.
Here's a collection of legendary wins and fails from England in the Middle Ages, courtesy of the Assassin's Creed Valhalla community!
That's why it's refreshing to play a game from 2009. A simpler time. Not for the global economy. But for other things. Like a story that will only soak up a measly 20 hours of my time. Combat mechanics that require me to press one button, literally one button, to look oh-so-swishy. And enemies that have the dexterity of uncooked spaghetti and the short term memory of a ball of lint.
The guards on the rooftops of Venice are annoying though. I ignore them, apart from the times when I don't, leaping through the air and slitting their throat. The limbs of the lifeless vessel are akimbo in a comical representation of death and suddenly I don't feel so good.
That guy was doing his job. His job was to prevent people from getting onto the rooftops of the city. He gives me warning before he must use force to remove me. He might not have any idea about the Assassin and Templar war. He might be here because it pays the bills and nothing more. When I loot the body, there are four florins on their person. Four florins that would have bought a loaf of bread for the table and flowers for their wife. I do the only thing I can do when I'm faced with the consequences of my actions. Laugh nervously.
Sure, it's super important that Ezio and co. retrieve the Precursor objects and stop them from falling into the hands of the Templars. Yet, I dread to think of the devastation that I have wrought with every Tomaso, Riccardo and Aroldo that found themselves at the business end of my Hidden Blade. Assassins don't kill civilians, else the descendent risks desynchronisation from their ancestor.
Guards are fair game, but how do I tell the civilians from the guards? Am I even qualified to do so?
There are corpses hidden in bales of hay and long grasses, sweetly decomposing for their loved ones to discover. The latest recruit must stand in the same spot that their predecessor died and pray that the Assassin decides to not look for feathers today.
Almost every single game in the series puts you in the shoes of an Assassin. You are the goodie compared to those dastardly Templars with their intentions to control the world. I just Googled the Geneva Conventions and it's not looking good for either of these two clandestine societies. It literally says "extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly" is a war crime. And "extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly" does sum up an afternoon in Assassin's Creed 2.
So I'd like to take this moment to say, I'm really sorry that I killed so many of you, nameless guards in Assassin's Creed. I didn't do it because I've got anything against you, I did it because I was busy and I've got to get some important things done for the future of humankind. It was totally impersonal, really. But totally immoral.
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