The best in the Assasin’s Creed series makes it to the PlayStation 4 in one single collection.
Ubisoft has taken a year off from creating a new Assassin’s Creed for the holiday season, which might be a fine idea considering the more thought put into the next release, then potentially the better, to release a collection that is revered by many AC fans as some of the best stories in the series. They have opted to take some of the more popular releases in the series starring Ezio and re-release them into one single collection that focuses solely on the single-player experience. Included with the collection is Assassin’s Creed 2, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed Revelation, all of which are strong titles, though some older than others in terms of gameplay and visuals.
On the remastering portion of these titles it’s really a hit and/or miss with this collection. Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood look visually dated at times. While Ubisoft certainly seems to have done their best with what they had, and wanting to maintain the integrity of the original experience, when compared to Revelations the other games, AC2 and Brotherhood, seem light years away from each other. That’s not to say that some things like shadows, light, some details, and draw distance haven’t been improved with the remastering, as they have, but things like cut scenes are painful to the eyes. It’s comparable to some nice animation for 70% of the experience versus some hard-to-watch animation for the next 30% of it. Ubisoft had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time with the two in the front of the collection, but seemed content on just upgrading some visual features instead of a bunch. I can’t blame them.
Visuals aside, you do get the same classic gameplay that came with each game. Climbing, moving and attacking feel just as smooth as they did when these titles were released. I felt right at home with AC2, even though I know the gameplay has been improved dramatically over the years, especially in the controls department. I did find myself frustrated at times, as sometimes my intended jumps, especially in emergency situations, were off a bit. This is what I experienced when I played AC2 back in the day, so I wouldn’t have it any other way, mainly because I enjoy the integrity of the gameplay from years past (would you change how old Mario games react if given the chance? Neither would I). I realize that AC2 was a great leap over the first, as I recall reviewers went nuts when it was first released because of the improved mechanics, but they do feel behind the curve when compared to Brotherhood and Revelations. The preciseness of the controls is just a bit better with the latter two, especially the last one. I know there are plenty of reviewers out there that might be complaining that Ubisoft should have brought all titles up to the same level in regards to mechanics and such, but to do that would probably mean the entire framework be trashed and basically a new game created. For a game like Assassin’s Creed 2 that is nearly eight years old it’s probably not worth the money and time for the return. Enjoy it with all its flaws intact.
Essentially, everything you loved about the games when they were released is still very much intact, even though the games have aged a bit. Going backwards can be tough for gamers when it comes to older games. I admit I have struggled in the past with ‘remastering’ jobs, which have been more about ‘oh, it plays on this system now’, rather than ‘we’ve improved the experience — look at it’. The Ezio Collection has improved things with each title, tiny things, but don’t expect more of an experience than you would have received when these titles first released. That’s not me hating on this collection, not by a long shot because I loved the Ezio stories, but I don’t want you to have any preconceived notions in regards to what this release is about. They have ported the best games in the series over to the PlayStation 4 and have included all DLC (single-player) along the way, which is fine because you get to relive some great moments in AC history. You get a lot of action and bang for the buck you pay for it, but are getting tiny upgrades with this remastering and nothing more.
With that said, is it bad to only give tiny upgrades and expect full price for the collection? If it was only one game, then yes that would be awful, but three games in one place with amazingly long and involved stories is worth the price of admission in my view. I think this is especially so if you’re a newcomer to the series. Anyone who has not played a single AC title in their life and that is getting a PlayStation 4 for Christmas would probably love an action collection like this one. Starting off with the best stories and having no history with the gameplay might be the best when trying to enjoy the maximum amount of Assassin’s Creed gameplay. They will certainly enjoy it with the Ezio Collection.