Assassin’s Creed: The Story So Far
Assassin’s Creed Revelations is a well-reviewed, top-selling game this holiday season. As you fight your way through the throngs of retail zombies and consumer whores, it might seem tempting to reward yourself with this time-spanning murder spree of a game. If you’re asking me, I say do it; the game is pretty excellent. However, if you’ve never played a game in the Assassin’s Creed series before, the idea may seem daunting. Ubisoft has released four enormous games in five years, and the plot is surprisingly complex for what appears to you to be a game about shoving your bladed wrists into the throats of religious and political figures. However, fear not! For in this article, I intend to do nothing less than dissolve the complicated narrative mysteries of this franchise into a single, pleasantly digestible, and quickly readable little corn nut of an article for you, the uninitiated. Read on for GameZone’s definitive “Assassin’s Creed: The Story So Far”
Part 1: Assassin’s Creed
The first thing you need to know is that all of these games so far are set in 2012, just months before the supposed end of the world. This may seem odd at first in a game filled with imagery from the past, but let me explain: The Assassins and Templars are two warring factions who’ve been at it for centuries. The Templars want to obtain the fabled “Pieces of Eden” in order to control the entire world’s population, which they believe will help stave off the apocalypse. The Assassins, however, won’t allow this much power to get into such sinister hands, and so throughout history, they’ve been covertly murdering Templars in order to keep the world in balance. However, as time has gone on, the Templars have grown in money and power, while the Assassins have been hunted almost to extinction, and never before has the world’s fate been so unsure. Enter Desmond Miles.
Sup, dude? Cool jacket. Wear a similar one forever, okay?
Desmond is a humble bartender who grew up in a modern day Assassin community hidden somewhere in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He rejected his heritage, left his family, and was living off the grid under an assumed name until he was kidnapped by the Abstergo Corporation to be used as a subject in their Animus project under Dr. Warren Vidic. The Animus is a device through which the subject is able relive the memories of their ancestors, as stored within their DNA. Dr. Lucy Stillman, the attending scientist, explains to Desmond that he was chosen as a subject because of his Assassin heritage, and is specifically going to be used for his connection to a particular Assassin who lived during the Crusades, Altair ibn La-Ahad. Though resistant at first, Desmond eventually syncs with the Animus and finds himself experiencing Altair’s story firsthand.
In 1190 AD, just as Richard the Lionhearted has captured the Muslim city of Acre, Altair makes an attempt on the life of Robert De Sable, Grand Master of the Templar Knights, but he fails, and loses all of his status among his fellow Assassins. However, Al Mualim, head of the Assassins, allows him the chance to redeem himself on the promise that he bring peace to the Holy Land by systematically eliminating nine corrupt political figures, culminating in De Sable. Altair succeeds in doing this, but not before realizing that all nine of his targets are high-ranking Templars. As he finally kills De Sable, the Templar reveals to Altair that Al Mualim is secretly a tenth Templar, and that he has been using Altair to eliminate all of his competition and to ensure that he alone would have control of a powerful Piece of Eden that can control people’s minds. Luckily, Altair is able to defeat Al Mualim in battle and recovers the artifact, but as he does, it activates one more time, revealing several different locations around the world.
Sup, Altair? You know, that jacket looks an awful lot like Desmond’s.
As Desmond lives through more and more of this story in the Animus, between sessions he begins to discover through secretly reading emails overnight at the Abstergo compound, that the company is actually a front for the Templars, of whom Dr. Vidic is a member. Once they get the locations Altair saw out of his memories, they plan to kill him. Fortunately, Lucy reveals herself to be an Assassin as well, and saves Desmond’s life, buying him more time to explore his surroundings, which he does by using Altair’s “eagle vision” ability, which he obtained through a process called the “bleeding effect”, which passes on traits of the ancestor through the Animus. This enables Desmond to see various messages hidden on the walls of the room, written by its previous occupant and experimental Animus subject, the mysterious Subject 16. They reference, among other things, The Book of Revelations and the Mayan 2012 Prophecy, and they seem to hint at larger revelations to come. See what I did there? That’s the new game! Revelations!
Part 2: Assassin’s Creed II
The second game begins almost immediately following the first one. Lucy shows up, and it turns out she’s a stone cold killer, who literally resorts to murdering people to help Desmond escape, which he does by again tapping into the “eagle vison” he received from the “bleeding effect”. The two fight their way out of Abstergo, but not before Desmond climbs into the Animus one last time so that Lucy can transfer all his files and witnesses the birth of his next ancestor of note, Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, who lived in Florence, Italy during the Renaissance.
Ezio doesn’t know he can do anything besides spread and cross his arms for pictures.
Lucy then spirits Desmond away to a modern-day Assassin’s hideout, where they meet up with two other more bookish members of the order, historian and analyst Shaun Hastings, and Rebecca Crane, a scientist who created her own version of the Animus, the Animus 2.0. They then explain to Desmond that he needs to get in their new Animus and relive Ezio’s life, so that Desmond will learn to be an Assassin himself by intensifying the “bleeding effect”, and also so that they can find the remaining Pieces of Eden before the Templars do.
Desmond rejoins Ezio just as his family is forced to go into hiding after being betrayed during an attempt at political revolution in Florence. His father and brothers are hanged, and he’s left with his uncle Mario at their family’s countryside villa to watch over his emotionally fragile mother and sister. Mario reveals that Ezio is the newest in a long line of Assassins and trains him so that he can exact revenge on all the people who conspired against his family.
He travels across Italy, murdering the high-ranking betrayers and meeting various people along the way, including Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci helps him by building him new weapons and equipment, and also helps to translate ancient writings by Altair. As Ezio assassinates he way up the ladder, he eventually finds that Rodrigo Borgia, leader of the Templars, is to blame, and that he has an artifact called “The Apple of Eden” that belonged to Altair hundred of years previously. Borgia wants to topple the Medici family and take over all of Italy. He also believes he is the prophet named in old accounts of the Pieces of Eden, and that he’s meant to bring the Templars to a fabled location known only as “The Vault”, which is supposed to have valuable codexes and Pieces of Eden inside. Ezio and Borgia have a showdown in Venice, and just as Borgia almost kills Ezio, all the people who’ve helped him thus far arrive and reveal themselves to be assassins, too. Borgia flees, and Ezio recovers the Apple. Ezio is officially inducted into the Order, named the true prophet meant to stop the Templars, and he decides he’s going to go after Borgia, and try to stop him once and for all.
Fun Fact: Rodrigo Borgia is the biggest shit-head in Italy.
As Desmond spends more and more time in the Animus, a few different things begin to occur. First, he does indeed gain many of Ezio’s abilities through the “bleeding effect”. However, the effect is so powerful that even outside of the Animus, Desmond begins to have visions. Most notably, he enters a memory where he sees Altair in bed with Maria, who appears to be a Templar. Even stranger, Altair leaves during the memory and focus stays with Maria before Desmond’s consciousness returns to the present, which seems impossible. Also, through Ezio, Desmond notices glyphs that seem to only be present in the Animus and not the actual past, that correspond to the glyphs Subject 16 left on the walls at Abstergo. Each one contains a piece of a clip Subject 16 left behind when he hacked into the Animus, and when they’re all put together, they form a short clip of naked man and woman whose bodies are covered with symbols made of light, running through what looks like a futuristic take on heaven. They call themselves “Adam” and “Eve” and they are apparently being chased by an unknown entity. They pass by workers who seem to be working on artifacts similar to the Apple. Just before the video ends, Eve holds up the Apple itself and says “Adam, I have it.” WEIRD.
Desmond returns to the Animus and picks up Ezio’s life several years later. Borgia is now Pope, and Ezio is at the Vatican to kill him and get to “The Vault”, which is supposedly under the Vatican. Apparently, the Papal Staff is also a Piece of Eden, and Borgia thinks he can open “The Vault” with it. In the final showdown with Borgia at the Vault gates, Ezio defeats Borgia, but decides not to kill him. He also uses the Papal Staff and the Apple of Eden to open “The Vault” even though Borgia couldn’t, proving himself to be the actual prophet.
However, all he finds inside is a mostly empty chamber, and the hologram of a female figure who calls herself Minerva, and addresses Desmond directly under the pretense that she’d been waiting here for Ezio to find her so that she could speak to him through the Animus. She explains that she’s part of an ancient society that built a civilization on Earth far predating any other, and that it was her society that is actually responsible for the creation of humans. Eventually, the humans destroyed most of their civilization in a huge war, so the last few survivors of her people hid themselves away in sacred places across the globe so that someone would find them and stop the humans from destroying the Earth.
Back in the modern day, Desmond barely wakes up before he finds out that Abstergo is attacking their hideout. Lucy gives Desmond a hidden blade like the one Altair and Ezio use, and the four of them fight their way out and escape to a remote cabin. They go over the tapes, and Lucy theorizes that Minerva was referring to the geomagnetic reversal of the Earth’s poles. To find out, they decide to have Desmond head back into the Animus. If only there was a game that wasn’t quite AC III but that served as sort of like a buffer to fill the gap and tie up all the loose-OH WAIT HERE IT IS.
Part 3: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
Brotherhood opens with Desmond trying to use the Animus to get one of Ezio’s memories from 1507. However, he’s unable to do so and ends up in Viana during a battle for a short while before Ezio remembers how his family’s country villa was similarly destroyed. Desmond is shot even further back in time to very shortly after the events of Assassin’s Creed II. Borgia has disappeared, and the Papal Staff disappears into the floor of the Vatican. Ezio and his uncle Mario ride back to the villa in Monteriggioni and find it under siege by Cesare Borgia, Borgia’s son. Mario is killed in the ensuing battle which leaves the villa in ruins, and Ezio passes out as he chases Cesare towards Rome.
When Desmond wakes up, he, Lucy, Shaun, and Rebecca have arrived at the Villa Auditore at Monteriggioni in modern Italy. They have decided to use it as a safehouse while they try and recover the Apple of Eden from wherever Ezio put it, using the Animus to look. Lucy also seems to think that when Minerva touched it, something about it changed. Desmond also begins to see a much older Ezio around the villa in a similar way to his visions of Altair and Maria as a result of the “bleeding effect”. They deduce that Ezio came back to the villa much later and hid a bunch of numbers and glyphs all over the place. As they inch closer and closer to finding the Apple, they decide that Desmond needs to go back into the Animus to find more clues.
Weird face, Cesare. Maybe he smells his dad’s head.
Ezio wakes up in Rome and finds it in a sorry state as a result of Borgia rule. He begins to fight back by uniting the various factions of the city, initiating less experienced assassins into the order, and sending them all over Europe. He then moves to cut off the Borgia supplies and funding, destroys their weapons of war, and even damages their relationship with the French. He saves the life of actor Pietro Rossi from Cesare’s goons and earns himself a key to the Borgia Castel Sant’Angelo, where he can conceivably assassinate both Borgia and Cesare. Coincidentally, as he infiltrates the building, he witnesses Cesare kill his own father, as well as force the location of the Apple from his half-sister Lucrezia.
Ezio beats Cesare to the hiding place, in the Basilica di San Pietro, and uses it to destroy the rest of Cesare’s army. He then brings his assassins against the remaining men near Rome’s gates, and Cesare is arrested. As he’s being carried away, however, he defiantly says that he won’t be arrested for long, and that no man will ever kill him. Leonardo da Vinci convinces Ezio to use the Apple to find out if what Cesare says is true, and it turns out it is. Ezio then decides to leave the Brotherhood of Assassins he’s created and track down Cesare, wherever he is.
He finally catches up with him during the Siege of Viana in 1507, the original time that Desmond tried to get to in the van at the beginning of the game. He fights him on the walls of the castle and eventually throws him off, technically letting the fall kill him rather than any man. He then takes the Apple down into another one of the Vaults under the Santa Maria Aracoeli.
This could literally be the ghost of an alien. Who knows?
Desmond and his companions immediately head for the Colosseum in Rome, near where the Vault entrance lies. As they make their way through the secret passageways leading to Santa Maria Aracoeli, another of Those Who Came Before named Juno appears and speaks so that only Desmond may hear her. As they all enter the secret chamber, finally locating the Apple, Juno gets creepier, talking about a sixth sense that Desmond maybe has. As Desmond touches the Apple, cryptic symbols again appear all over the place. He loses control of his body, and Juno forces him to stab Lucy in the gut with his hidden blade. They both fall unconscious as the blood flows deeper and redder. All we find out after this is that Desmond is in a coma, and that despite some protest from more benevolent assassins, he is once again placed in the Animus.
So what now, friends? Does Lucy survive? Who are Those Who Came Before? What is this sixth sense? What the hell is going to happen? What time period is it going to be in? (This should link to my Assassin’s Creed Time Period Article) There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to play Assassin’s Creed Revelations. Did I pique your interest? I hope I at least put you at ease about starting a game series three games in. Take it from me, the game is great, and I’m glad if I helped you along the way to enjoying it.