Assassin’s Creed as a franchise is famous for its ability to time travel, from following Altair through the Third Crusade to battling vicious oceans with Edward in the Caribbean, it has kept us fans wanting to know more then we ever did in any of out history lessons., but how much fact and how much fiction actually goes into these stories and characters?
Now, I am by no means a history buff and had to do some reading but hopefully I have dug up some bits you’ll find interesting.
I will start with Assassin’s Creed, Altair is a 12th century assassin and this game is set during the Third Crusade (1189-1192) it starts in Masyaf in the Holy Land, so far this is historically correct and records also show that assassins were based in the castle of Masyaf and were active there for many years. These were founded by a Persian missionary, Hassani Sabbah who (in real life) used assassins to control his power, picking off and threatening leaders and politicians to set examples and gain the majority.
‘What about the Knight’s Templar?’ I hear you ask, well also pretty true to real life, they started off as more of a charity to help escort people across the Holy Lands, and also used as guards and doctors. You can find them dotted all over the game as they would have been back then. As time passed that became more of a force too, an elite military force and in no time at all they joined in with the violence and fighting of the crusades, the game sees them grow and grow in size and in power. However, the truth of the matter is very different as most of them succumbed to greed and power. After the crusades many of them were captured, tortured and killed, to the point that the order became pretty much extinct. On the flip side though many conspiracy theorists will argue that they are alive and kicking even to this day, as they are in the game.
Now, Assassin’s Creed II (Brotherhood and Revelations) you are Ezio in the height Renaissance in 14th century Italy, currently led by the corrupt Pope Rodrigo Borgia (1492). The game portrays him as a violent and corrupt leader, promoting war across Europe and selfishly gaining power through any means. Even promoting family and friends into positions of power, creating them where there wasn’t any. If being portray this way wasn’t bad enough, he was said to have been even more of a menace in real life, finally meeting his demise at the age of 72, where is was believed to have been poisoned.
Moving on to Assassin’s Creed III, your character is a half Mohawk, native American by the name of Connor. And you are stuck in the middle of resisting the British Colonial Forces, supporting George Washington , who was at the time commander-in-chief of the American forces during the Revolution. Now, there is no record of any assassination attempts on George Washington, there are a few events within the game that interestingly run true to history, such as the Betrayal of Benedict Arnold and the arrest of Charles Lee after the battle of Monmouth.
In part of the game George Washington comes in to conflict with Connor after he orders a ’scorched earth’ policy which saw the demise of over 40 native American villages, All in all, this allows players to feel involved in the history of the Revolution by using a well renowned figure and keeping it (mostly) historically correct.
In Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, you are Edward Kenway, a character based on the famous pirate Black Beard (Edward Teach), although his role at the time the game was set is not documented, Edward was still a pirate that terrorised the Caribbean with a ship full of guns, which was true to Black Beard. He sailed his ship (Queen Anne’s Revenge) with at least 40 guns across the Caribbean between 1716-1718. He managed to escape being punished for piracy for a long time, due to the fact he was lenient on ships that showed no resistance. Of course he slowly became too rich and too power hungry and was eventually apprehended by the British authorities, even if it did take two armed ships full of soldiers. Black Flag is definitely one that is based around the idea of a character rather then being history focused or in any way factually correct time wise, but after all who doesn’t want to be a pirate?
Let’s carry on to Assassin’s Creed Unity. We go to Paris, 1789, the French Revolution creates a backdrop for your character Arno. This game is the most criticised of the franchise to date, by fans and the media alike due to the fact there wasn’t a lot about it that was historically or factually correct. The only part of the game considered accurate was the setting and the environment. It upset a few historians, even going as far as upsetting the French who accused Ubisoft of trying to ‘rewrite history’ (by the way its just a game).
That said, the buildings and scenery Ubisoft created in this game where something else, the time and details that went into getting the historic monuments and places spot made for some spectacular game play, so although Unity is definitely more fiction then fact it is, no doubt one of the more beautiful of the series.
Finally I end with Syndicate, you can level up two characters, Jacob and Evie Frye, inside the depths and darkness of Victorian London. I confess I haven’t completed this game in its entirety (You can see Lefranzines Review of Assassins Creed Syndicate Here for an in depth look, well worth a read) but I have put enough hours into the game, to shout from the roof tops about how amazing it is to have a setting that takes you back to your own roots, you feel as if you are living just a little of your own history (while killing bad guys in the process, obviously). Again, as with Unity the monuments and famous places have had a tremendous amount of effort put into them, which make the landscape for the Industrial Revolution more beautiful then you could ever imagine, smog and all! No spoilers here for those who haven’t played it!