Taking place in 1191AD, during the Third Crusade, we take control of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad. The main focus of the game is, as you guessed, carrying out assassinations. Al Mualim, the leader of the Assassins Brotherhood, gives a list of high-priority targets, and we hunt them down. There's more to it than that, but I'll leave it to the first two videos to flesh it out in more detail!
A Brief History Refresher: The Crusades
Unfortunately, the Crusades aren't covered in school curriculum all that often. Personally speaking, I never once came across material for 'em in high school or college; I had to read in to it independently. Through this post (and the LP as a whole), I encourage folks to correct me if I misstate something!
Here's the low-down on it, though: the main focus of the Crusades was to bring the Holy Land back under Christian control and wrest it from Muslim occupation. The Holy Land is loosely defined by a region that was called the "Levant."
As most folks know, the Holy Land is held very highly in several religions:
- Christianity - Many of Christianity's central, early locations are within this region. Nazareth (Christ's birthplace), Jerusalem (location of the Last Supper, and where his teachings formed/took place), and Calvary (the cite of Christ's crucifixion) to name a few. It is the religion's cradle as a whole, to slightly understate things.
- Judaism - Jewish followers view the land as a gift from god. Promised repeatedly in the book of Genesis to Abraham, his son, and once again to his grandson, it is ultimately referred to as the Promised Land. Not to be confused with the Land of Israel, which merely encompasses the Southern Levant.
- Islam - The Qur'an loosely defines the region as a Holy or Blessed Land, but the borders are never strictly defined (some say the Levant as a whole, some pinpoint it moreso to Damascus, Palestine, and some of Jordan, etc). Also, Jerusalem is the location of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is supposedly where the Prophet Muhammad performed Salah ("the prayer") and ascended to Heaven. For more information, see Isra and Mi'raj.
The Crusades took place, for the most part, in Nine separate "segments" (the game taking place during the Third), each of which spanned a few years at a time. They lasted from the late 11th century through the end of the 13th. There were numerous other crusades (albeit not named the same way) which were much narrower in scope.
Although the Crusades maintained religion as the driving reason behind it, there was an economic undercurrent. Eastern spices, ivory, precious gemstones, and fruits were a number of items which were highly sought after in Europe. The re-establishing of Europe's trade routes with Asia was of chief concern, and this region was an ideal gateway to Eastern goods. In fact, numerous crusades were led solely with this reasoning in mind (ie: the Fifth and Seventh, which were attempting to re-establish the Red Sea trading region).
Years later, the Mongols scraped a swath of destruction through the area, and the Ottoman Empire developed a monopoly on the trade route. This, coupled with regional harassment by Mamluks, left the trade route to the East largely cut off (or at least incredibly difficult to make use of). Eventually, this led to Christopher Columbus making his journey westward, in hopes of establishing a new trade route entirely (and we all know how that ended!).
More to the heart of the game's setting, though! We find ourselves in the midst of the Third Crusade (1187-1192), wherein Saladin, leader of the Saracen forces (Saracen being the name given to the Arab Muslim opposition by the Crusaders), has driven the Crusaders from their hundred-year-long occupation of Jerusalem. Judging by the setting and various clues (ie: Crusader occupation of Acre, leading up to the Battle of Arsuf), the game's setting could be pin-pointed to between July and September of 1191.
If you want to get in to the mindset by the creators (or want more meat/detail on things), look in to the books Blitzkrieg to Desert Storm: The Evolution of Operational Warfare by Robert M. Citino and Alamut by Vladimir Bartol. For those who want a more visual approach, look in to Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven movie (another confirmed reference/inspiration). Ubisoft actually pulled off the authentic look and feel of the era by recruiting some of the historians who advised for Scott's Kingdom of Heaven. If you go this route, try to get your hands on the Director's Cut; lots of neat stuff was removed for the theatrical release.
Heading further in to the visual inspiration, David Roberts' lithographs were heavily relied upon. If you haven't seen his work, it's definitely worth some googling Very impressive stuff.
Creed was hyped up as a medieval version of Hitman, but lacked the creativity and variety of kills that Hitman pulled off quite nicely. The game was also looked down upon due to repetition and the fact that it did not live up to the ridiculous amount of hype that preceded it. In spite of these criticisms, it is still a solid game with some fantastic visuals. The creators recruited folks from the Prince of Persia teams, went to Crusades-era historians for pointers on the setting, and even snagged the composer Jesper Kyd, who did the music for the Hitman titles. As a result, the atmosphere and setting are remarkable. In spite of some lack of polish on the execution (ie: port qualities from system to system, lack of subtitles , etc), there was a lot of attention to detail.
Occasionally, a game strolls along that hits a nerve (intentionally or otherwise), which, in turn, garners attention from the media and what-have-you. The Grand Theft Auto series as a whole has the over-the-top criminal antics that bunched many a panty in its day. Resident Evil 5 was branded as some sort of horribly racist video game because our snow-white, pale-skinned protagonist went on a romping rampage through Africa. Assassin's Creed snagged some attention itself because of the setting. Altaïr is a member of a brotherhood within Syria which goes around taking out prominent figures and bad guys. The immediate assumption by some was that we would go about with our Middle-Eastern protagonist, all the while taking out Crusaders, who, for the most part, were Caucasian. In a "post 9-11 world", this got under the skin of some folks enough to make a big deal about it. I go over it in the second video, but the Assassin Brotherhood in this game is based on a real group. It is meant to be almost identical to that real sect of people (except *it isn't them*). This is significant because they played "both sides", so to speak. In history, and in the game, our marks vary between both Crusaders and Saracens. Historically, the Hashshashin played both sides throughout the Crusades, depending upon the Order's leadership and its goals.
The LP's Structure -
The commentary will be done through audio as opposed to subtitles. While still on the subtitle subject, the game itself lacks them entirely. The voice audio can be a little drowned out at times, and, compounded with heavy accents, some lines are nearly indecipherable. If it were practical, I'd subtitle the spoken dialogue throughout the entire game, but that demands a pretty large amount of time in some scenes; plus, some of the chattiest characters are very easy to hear/understand. As a result, I am going to be subtitling select characters. It sounds a little haphazard, but once you see the first two videos, you should get a feel of how I'll be doing it. Hopefully no one will have issues with this.
One of the main critiques, as mentioned earlier, is the gameplay's repetition. Each assassination is preceded with a chain of side-quests. I will show these off in their entirety when they first come up. Following that, though, they will be trimmed or completely removed. Don't worry! I'll do my best to stream-line these edits. I won't be collecting the flags hidden in-game, though, since there is no reward or reason to do so.
On the topic of mirrors: I got a little frustrated with Youtube nearing the end of the Colossus LP, so I am giving Viddler a go as my mirror to Blip. Blip will have an HD (720p) and SD version of each video. Viddler, given its constraints, will just mirror the SD (and, honestly, should be a last-resort). If you go the Viddler route, make a free account. This will allow you to download the video to disk. Trust me, downloading it is WAY faster than streaming through Viddler. No clue why, but it just is.
Later Edit: Youtube mirrors are now up for all episodes!
Table of Contents
- Episode 01: Nothing is True
- Episode 02: "What're you doing in the Holy Land?" "Mind your own business!"
- Episode 03: Home Away from Home
- Episode 04: Redemption
- Episode 05: The Kingdom
- Episode 06: Damascus - The Poor District
- Episode 07: Tamir
- Episode 08: Counter-Intuitive
- Episode 09: Acre - The Poor District
- Episode 10: Garnier de Naplouse
- Episode 11: One for the Road
- Episode 12: Jerusalem - The Rich District
- Episode 13: Talal
- Episode 14: Damascus - The Rich District
- Episode 15: Abu'l Nuqoud
- Episode 16: Acre - The "Rich" District
- Episode 17: William of Montferrat
- Episode 18: Jerusalem - The Poor District
- Episode 19: Majd Addin
- Episode 20: Damascus - The Middle District
- Episode 21: Jubair al Hakim
- Episode 22: Acre - The Middle District
- Episode 23: Meister Sibrand
- Episode 24: Jerusalem - The Middle District
- Episode 25: Robert de Sable
- Episode 26: Everything is Permitted