With the release of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, we’re about to be introduced to the fourth assassin in the main games of the franchise. We’ve had Altair, Ezio, Connor and now Edward and there’s one thing that all of them have in common (aside from the shared bloodline in Desmond) and that’s the fact that some portions of the internet has had a problem with all of them. With that in mind, we decided to pose a question to the GodisaGeek team, “Who would your perfect Assassin’s Creed main character be?”
What we ended up with was a range of would-be assassins, from a selection of different eras in time, and we thought we’d share them all with you fine people. Don’t forget to comment at the end of the article to let us know what your perfect assassin would be. You never know, perhaps Ubisoft will read this article and one of our ideas will become reality (that probably won’t happen though. Just so you know).
The Assassin’s Creed series of games have always scratched an itch I have for certain eras of history. I know full well that the facts have been embellished to fit the stories but the fact that I always use them as a jumping off point to start my own research into the different eras is always something I find exciting. Because of that, and the fact that I’ve always loved the history of London (living relatively close to the city), my perfect assassin would be an amalgamation of Jack the Ripper and the mythological Spring-Heeled Jack. Both of which were rumoured to be terrorising London at around the same period of time – the late Victorian era – and both have attributes that would make them a particularly fantastic assassin.
The Jack the Ripper aspect of the assassin would need no introduction or explanation. Many reports talk about his skill with a knife – just as an assassin would have – as well as an ability to blend in with the shadows, allowing him to make his escape, and remain uncaught, despite the fact that every single police officer in London was out looking for him. If there’s one thing that the Assassin’s Creed series of games have instilled in their players, it’s the fact that members of the Brotherhood are taught, from an extremely early age, to make decisive cuts with their hidden blades, that no action is ever an accident and that they must escape prosecution through the use of clean escapes. All of which Jack the Ripper undoubtedly did.
Spring-Heeled Jack would probably require a little bit more of an explanation. A character of legend that was reported to stalk around the cities of the UK – London, Liverpool and various cities in Scotland – terrorising people, usually women, and then running away once they attempted to alert the authorities; usually escaping by – according to reports – jumping over walls and fences as high as nine feet tall. What if the “jumping over fences and walls” is just climbing up them with the speed and agility that we’ve seen Altair, Ezio and Connor all do in previous Assassin’s Creed games. What if Spring-Heeled Jack’s ability to run across rooftops and scramble up walls with ease wasn’t the stuff of legend, what if it was taught to him by the London chapter of the Brotherhood of Assassin’s?
What if Spring-Heeled Jack and Jack the Ripper are one and the same? The top hidden-blade wielder in Victorian London.
Sounds pretty cool if I do say so myself, not to mention the fact that we – as players – would get to run around Victorian London collecting objects, discovering the truth and generally being a pretty kick-ass assassin.
Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.
For me, the primary protagonist of an Assassin’s Creed game is the world. As integral as the Assassin is, they can be as interesting as Ezio or as bland as Connor, but the world is what sells it. I’ve loved every setting we’ve seen in a major Assassin’s Creed release, but I’d like to see them go further afield. I’d like to see a game set in Medieval China, long before the Ming Dynasty, when stretches of the Great Wall were still under construction and the Tang Dynasty were ruling China during one of its well-documented “golden ages”.
Not only have you got the iconic style of ancient China, but you’ve got an absolute wealth of mythology, the technological advancements the country was making at the time and the beautiful land itself. A Chinese protagonist would be a step in a new direction: the ambitions held by young men in the country at the time would make for a more interesting – potentially more conflicted – main character, eschewing the lout-turned-hero stereotype of Ezio and Edward Kenway, but encapsulating an air of idealism not exhibited in Altair and Connor.
Several notable Chinese legends even thrust women to the fore, something largely unheard of in ancient civilisations. The legend of Hua Mulan (she of the Disney movie fame) is said to have taken place between 386 and 584 AD, during the Northern Wei Dynasty – a female protagonist based upon the legend of Mulan (perhaps retro-engineered so that the legend stemmed from the Assassin’s Brotherhood) would be pretty exciting.
You’ve also got the weaponry of the time. The Chinese were big on steelwork and are known for their skill in sword-crafting, among other things. Then there are, of course, fireworks. They weren’t actually invented until sometime during the 7th Century, but the Assassin’s Creed series has always been one to bend the facts to suit the story rather than the other way around.
There’s so much scope for experimentation and variety in world history that, failing Medieval China, I’d take the French Revolution, Ancient Rome or Dark Age Britain at the flip of a coin. The iconicity of the Assassin’s Creed franchise is such that any period in any country’s history would work – although I have to admit, for my personal tastes, you just can’t beat Black Flag’s Golden Age of Piracy.
Assassin’s Creed has always tried to take historical fact, and embellish it with elements of science fiction, the paranormal and the occult. Much has been written about Adolf Hitler’s alleged obsession with the occult; more specifically, the pursuit of holy relics such as The Spear of Destiny and The Holy Grail. On that note, what better setting for a more modern tale of the war between the Assassin and Templar Orders, than that of World War II?
In fact, Assassin’s Creed II already supports the possibility of this setting existing within canon, as one of the game’s Glyphs directly reference Adolf Hitler being in possession of a Piece of Eden. It is alleged he received this from fellow Templar, Henry Ford, while other heads of state at the time were also under the influence of the Templars: Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and even Winston Churchill were all said to have been manipulated. It is canonically believed that World War II itself was part of the Templar’s plan to create a New World Order – To bring peace through order and control. It just so happens that Abstergo Industries was founded in 1937 as a front to the Templar’s activities – two years before World War II began.
It’s also an interesting setting in terms of media, with the extended use of propaganda materials from all sides of the war, potentially being a big part of the way the war was being fought. It would make sense for the Templars to have some part in this. Let’s not forget that a great deal of espionage took place during that time, especially in the fields of communication – the German’s Enigma cipher machines would fit well with the series’ penchant for code breaking.
Then you have a wealth of environments that are perfect for providing a wide array of variety. You have your various urban settings, covering every major city in Europe, there could be desert settings based around the German’s North African campaign (Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria), and you even have the bitterly cold conditions of the Russian Front.
Finally, like any war, World War II featured an astounding array of technological advances: RADAR, the jet engine, Germany’s V2 rockets, aircraft, naval vehicles, guided weaponry, plastic explosives, small arms and of course, the atomic bomb. All of these would make interesting additions to the Assassin’s and Templar’s arsenals.
It wouldn’t be an easy setting to deal with (would Ubisoft dare tackle The Holocaust?), but it would be the perfect way to give a little backstory to Abstergo, as well as give fans a more modern take on the saga.
My ideal choice for a new lead character in the Assassin’s Creed series certainly wouldn’t be an idea that I could call my own. Anyone who has watched the short animated film Embers – which came with certain special edition versions of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations – will be aware of the Chinese Assassin Shao Jun, who comes to Ezio seeking advice as to how she can strengthen and improve the Chinese Brotherhood of Assassins. She would be my choice for a new protagonist in the series.
There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, she is canonical and actually has ties to the existing story. You cannot discount how important this factor is in deciding if fans connect with and grow to like a new character. Having known Ezio and been taught by him, she would already have some popularity with fans.
Also, she would obviously be the first female lead in a core game in the series. Yes, Liberation featured a lady Assassin, but that was always seen as a second-tier spin-off, not the main storyline. Her background would also provide an entirely new environment to explore. All of the games so far – including Assassin’s Creed III – have been European in terms of architecture etc (with the American-set games being based on colonial European design). A Chinese environment, complete with costume, weapons and architecture would be a joy to behold and something completely new for the series. I feel that Shao Jun would provide the shot in the arm that the tired format needs – as I would love to see a new, re-invigorated title, which could re-launch the series.
I can smell the Thames from here. Its putrid odour spreads farther and farther these days, agitated by this vast bridge they are constructing, this new marvel of modern times. This industrious age where efficiency and engineering hold more sway than that of our ailing Queen Victoria. The newspapers would have you believe this is a wondrous time to be alive, a proud era for the Englishman, but they know nothing of the squalor this capital is built on. The streets are teeming with rats, beggars and disease. The Irish ran here to escape the blight, and now Jews run here too, out from under the Tsars shadow. London is swollen, rotting at the centre, too full, too fast, everything running, machine and man.
Night falls, and so I run too. Across the slate roofs of Whitechapel Road, the chilling wind cuts through my black robes as if I were naked as the day I came into this world. I pause on the corner of Osborn Street to survey the rabble below. The nocturnal taverns begin to rise, as the rest of the city looks towards slumber. A scuffle breaks out below, a woman’s scream draws my gaze but it’s not her, not the one I seek. Onward I go, leaping over chimney pots as they spew thick, choking smoke into the October night. Searching, searching for her.
The others are here too, though in what guise I know not. They have long since abandoned prominently displaying the crimson cross, making it harder to identify potential assailants. But I can feel them, the Templars, all around me. I can’t tell you how much of the city they control, but I know the Metropolitan Police and even Scotland Yard are among their allies. And why wouldn’t they be, after the things I have done, what I had to do. As word spreads, the masses are becoming vigilant, fearful of strange men in the night. If they only knew why I must do what I do, they would rally around me. But these are strange times, the newspapers now dictate the words of unrest the willing ears of the layman, planting seeds of hysteria and panic.
There! At last, she has appeared, out from one of the many stinking brothels these women call home. Another business that the Templars influence has allowed to grow and fester in the dark, lawless alleys. Poor thing, she doesn’t even know what she carries. She probably doesn’t even remember the procedure, nor notice the tiny scar in the small of her back. Advanced surgery, another marvel of modern times, though its secrets kept within the Templar ranks.
The look of surprise and confusion never fades from her face as I corner her in a dark doorway, or as I slide my hidden blade across her windpipe. A quick death, the only mercy I can offer. My blade is lower now, and penetrates her abdomen. As I reach inside to claim my morbid reward, a shard of a Piece of Eden, I think back to what they called my predecessor. ‘Spring heeled’ is what the papers said, with glowing eyes and monstrous claws. I understand now why he earned such a name. They choose something far more menacing for me, ‘The Ripper’, but I only answer to Jack.