Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
The first Assassin’s Creed, with its underwhelming and repetitive missions, seems destined to be judged as Ubi’s half-decent prototype for the much better AssCreeds to follow. But as much as the sequels added some much-needed character and features, the series also lost something. Most people will probably be happy it’s no longer a part of the game, but I really liked it when you had a long, final chat with the people you killed.
Later games reserved these spaced-out “deathbed discussions” only for the most major of characters, if they included the sequence at all. By Brotherhood, all we got was a couple of sentences or a brief “requiescat en pace”, making you wonder why Ubisoft continues to bother with this confessional sequence at all.
But the original embraced a weird notion that, upon assassinating someone, you were obligated to listen to them talk about themselves for a while, as they spat some blood. It was so strange, the both of you surrounded by the dull light of the Animus, chatting about utilitarianism with the fellow you’d just stabbed in the throat. Often, you’d get an insight into the way they thought, the reasons they did what they did, or they’d highlight your own confused reasons for killing. A doctor asks you where his patients will go now, now that he’s dead. A templar will say he didn’t fight for Christianity, but to free the holy land from toxic faith full stop.
All right, it was a little bit “we are not so different you and I” but it did show more thought than simply accepting your targets as targets without motive. “Bad guys don’t think they are the bad guys,” is common advice to anyone writing an antagonist. For all its flaws, the first AssCreed came closest of all games in the series to following that rule.