Since the release of Assassin’s creed in 2009, Ubisoft has adhered to an annual release schedule for the franchise. With over one hundred million copies sold worldwide, fans of the series seem always ready to open their wallets.
However, after the poor launch of Unity, the French developer has had increased criticism on the merit of the series. It was barraged by bad press for its frequent framerate issues, creepy faceless characters, crashes, glitches, and a host of other awful bugs.
As a result, Ubisoft has decided to temporally hold off on releasing a new title in 2016 while they focus on the next release. So as not to skip a whole gaming cycle, they filled the void with the most loved trilogy in the franchise, the Ezio collection, a remastering of Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood, and Revelations, including all DLC’s and two short films: Assassin’s Creed “Lineage” and “Embers.” One is a prequel about Ezio’s father Giovanni, and the other centers around the last days of Ezio, enjoying his time with his wife and their two children.
As a long-time Assassin’s Creed fan, AC II had always been my personal favorite. However, after launching the game, it was soon apparent how much the series had improved over the years. Right off the bat, Assassin’s Creed II starts off with an out-of-focus, foggy cutscene, complete with blurry character outlines. This felt very odd at first but once Lucy, a returning character from the previous title, breaks Desmond out of Abstergo, the Templar corporation that was holding him hostage, I immediately noticed the texture improvements.
Once I was in Ezio’s shoes, roaming around Florence, I was impressed with the results of this remaster. The stonemasonry of the 15th century Italian buildings were redefined, especially in the regards to the lighting effects.
Two areas that have seen improvements are foliage draw distance and anti-aliasing. Unfortunately these improvement do not carry over across the game. When escorting Maria and Claudia to the villa Auditore in Monteriggioni, the game suffers horrific texture pop-in and screen tearing. Such issues are more severe with Assassin’s Creed II, less so in Brotherhood and Revelations.
The graphics are more vibrant and eye-popping. On the flip side, character models are coated with a spotted pinkish tone that I am not a fan of. Some of the characters resembled plastic dolls with shades of lipstick; not an ideal look for an assassin, I would presume.
All three titles are rendered in native 1080p with a stable 30 fps. Gameplay and performance run a lot slicker, and though this collection lacks the 60fps that the Nathan Drake Collection sported, in their defense they are bulkier, open-world games. Also, the Nathan Drake Collection is a Playstation exclusive, which means coding it and maintaining its balance would have been an easier task, but I digress.
Revisiting the franchise has certainly been bittersweet as so much has been improved since their original launch. I lost count how many times I accidentally jumped to my death while climbing buildings and parkouring around the city. The inconsistency of Ezio’s movements is frustrating, where in some instances you can jump as far as a superhero, in others Ezio is incapable of grabbing a ledge right under him. I certainly miss the grappling hook that was introduced in Syndicate.
Combat was so mechanical back then, with enemies almost coordinating with your moves, waiting for your to counter or attack. All the multiplayer aspects have also been removed, but I doubt anyone would actually miss them.
Playing old features that are gone from the newer titles was welcomed. Upgrading my villa, parachuting down buildings, recruiting new assassins and sending them to missions–I hope they bring back some, if not all, of these ideas in future releases.
The Ezio Collection’s mixture of gorgeous and out-of-place ugly moments may not always bold well with the ambiance of the game, but the charisma and personality are still there; I still loved playing this trilogy seven years later.
It may be a bit of a challenge for some new fans to adjust to the aged mechanics, but those who do will uncover an amazing collection. It’s been seven years, and Ubisoft have still not been able to reproduce the charm and spirit of Ezio.
The Ezio Collection is available on PS4 (reviewied), Xbox One, PC. A review codes was made available to us via Ubisoft.