Words by James Brookfield
Last Friday saw the release of Assassins Creed: Syndicate, the latest instalment in one of Ubisoft’s biggest franchises. There is much hype and anticipation surrounding this entry for numerous reasons such as; an attempt to rectify the mistakes and mishaps which plagued Assassins Creed: Unity, the location set within Victorian England and the opportunity to play as two assassins via twin siblings Jacob and Evie Frye. To celebrate the game’s launch this article will delve into the history of the first Assassins title, divulging facts that readers may or may not already know. So let’s re-enter the animus and uncover some tropes of the Creed in which to live by.
Firstly, Assassin's Creed was almost a different game entirely, originally intended to be a continuation of the Prince of Persia series. Initially entitled Prince of Persia: Assassins the plot was to be based on the life of Hassan-i-Sabbah, a missionary who converted a community in the late 11th century in the heart of the Alborz Mountains of northern Persia. He founded a group of fedayeen whose members are often referred to as the Hashshashin, or ‘Assassins’. Furthermore Patrice Desilets, Sands of Time director, believed a prince was not an appealing protagonist. As a result the prince would have been AI-controlled, thus creating a more interesting character in the form of the player-controlled Assassin. However Ubisoft did not want a Prince of Persia game where the focal point was not on titular character, therefore the game was given a new IP. Moreover it has been reported the assassin protagonist was female, switching the previous relationship dynamics of the Prince and his female companions. This is interesting given the continual debate of gender equality in gaming in addition to recent criticism of a lack of strong female characters within Assassin Creed games, prior to Aveline de Grandpre and Evie Frye. The major gameplay mechanic of Prince of Persia: Assassins was co-operative play, a feature that would not be established into the series until Unity. Test footage and early gameplay of Prince of Persia: Assassins is still available online which does, to some degree, demonstrate the basic outline of what then became Assassins Creed.
Another fact regarding Assassin Creed is upon hearing Desmond Miles speak for the first time most gamers instantly recognised the vocal talents of Nolan North, famed for other roles including; Nathan Drake, Deadpool, The Penguin (from Batman Arkham Series) and Dr Edward Richtofen. However most may be unaware that Desmond’s likeness was provided by Francisco Randez, a French-Canadian fashion model with a Spanish background. In a somewhat more familiar area Kristen Bell, well-known for Veronica Mars and Frozen, lent both her voice and likeness to the character of Lucy Stillman. This marked the first time Bell had voiced a character in any medium
Eagle-eyed gamers may have spotted in the first Assassins Creed game Altair is missing a finger. Subsequent assassins did not need to follow suit due to Altair modifying the hidden blade to operate effectively, without the removal of the ring finger, prior to his death. Resultantly this also enabled any assassin to further avoid detection; many early Levantine assassins were recognised due to a missing digit.
Finally, concluding on a rather humours note, the inability to swim in the first game is due to an apparent glitch in the Animus matrix and not a gameplay mechanic limitation, honestly.
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