Nothing Is Good. Everything Is Permitted.
HIGH These three titles represent the most memorable story development in the series.
LOW These three titles represent the laziest upgrade package on modern consoles.
WTF Assassin’s Creed II’s gameplay has aged as well as dollar-store parmesan.
I won’t make readers listen to the podcast – Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Chronicles did not make Gamecritics’ GOTY discussion. It does not get a good score at the bottom of this page. It is not recommended to anyone but absolute newcomers to AssCreed. In fact, I’d highly encourage newcomers pocket their cash, get a series recap from Wikipedia, and start their journey into assassination with the more relevant and polished Black Flag.
This collection of dated titles is an obvious cash-grab tying into the series’ feature film release, but there’s no Michael Fassbender to save this compilation. Instead, Ubisoft phoned in a few lighting and water effects, slapped in two bad movies, some nostalgic cover art, and then started collecting dollars for another edition. Perhaps I’m sour because this franchise has spit out nearly twenty-one titles in under a decade, but more likely it’s the fact that this effort shows no current-gen improvement to justify its existence.
For the uninitiated, here’s some quick background. Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection is a trio of (allegedly) enhanced titles featuring protagonist Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, and Assassin’s Creed Revelations and all related DLC are bundled together with aforementioned mini-movies, Lineage and Embers.
Our hero Ezio is a strapping Italian figment of the memory-probing Animus, forced into a life of open-world murder to avenge his family. Of course, revenge alone is never enough, so the story also sees Ezio uncover a dastardly plot to throw Italy into tatters. This narrative thread runs through all three games, with Ezio evolving from streetwise assassin into a wise, respected elder of the Brotherhood, eventually mentoring a new generation of murderous parkour enthusiasts.
The excitement ends somewhere around the start screen, because the games are exactly the same as they were when they were originally released. Other than some bottom-tier visual polish for HD TVs, there isn’t an ounce of enhanced visual fidelity. In fact, some of the visuals may have actually suffered as a result of the upgrade. Certain environment textures seem sharp, while others remain muddled and pixelated — the two often right next to one another. Likewise, eyes and facial expressions seem more disconnected than in the originals, which were already pretty wooden. They seem to follow random objects, and rarely connect with their intended focal points onscreen.
However, graphics are only part of the problem. While the Assassin’s Creed series was fairly inventive in 2009, its gameplay is now dated and awkward to control. The freerunning component – a major selling point at the series’ outset – remains touchy and inconsistent, and the combat becomes redundant quickly.
Of course there’s more than just swordplay, but none of the available tools really wow the player as they do later in the series. In the Ezio trilogy, each installment is a mundane exercise in climbing, awkward stealth, and sneak attacks. Outside of the hookblade apparatus and a few nifty bomb crafting sections, innovation is largely absent over the course of these three games.
Strangely, Ubisoft decided to omit the unique multiplayer component from the Ezio Collection. The intense game of hide and seek that debuted in Brotherhood was a different approach to online gameplay, and a highlight of the series back then. It’s a confusing subtraction.
What might be more confusing is how these titles are actually the second, third and fourth in the series, eliminating a good portion of storytelling from the debut. Though it’s not unplayable without an understanding of the first AC, there aren’t many people who will immediately grasp the premise, the workings of the Animus, or the stories of Abstergo.
If Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection offered legitimate improvement and effort, justification could be made for purchase, albeit at a discounted price. Instead, Ubisoft packaged three very dated titles with no upgrades to gameplay, graphics or storytelling, making this one of the laziest retread compilations to date. Sure, they play just like they did in 2009 and they tell the same stories, but the point of an upgraded classic is to improve on the past while embracing the future. This collection has missed that mark.
The recent rash of “upgraded” classic titles has had its share of good moments (Gears of War: Ultimate Edition), blah moments (The Bioshock Collection), and headshaking moments (Skyrim: Special Edition) but Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection is just a bad use of Ubisoft’s talent pool, and a worse use of gamers’ hard-earned money.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is currently available on Xbox One and PS4. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Xbox One. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the main quest of Assassin’s Creed II was completed. Another 10 hours were devoted to Brotherhood, Revelations, and the DLC expansion sections, and they were not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The ESRB rates this title M for Mature, and contains Blood, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, and Strong Language. As such, it is not recommended for younger gamers, or anyone intolerant of assassins, vengeance and murder-for-hire.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game features subtitles, tactical controller vibration and a clearly defined menu system. Gamers who are deaf or hard of hearing will miss some of the audio subtleties, but can enjoy the experience without.
Remappable Controls: No. The controls can be adjusted for inversion and sensitivity but cannot be remapped.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
When not writing for Gamecritics, Brad spends his days managing several sports and entertainment websites, handling several freelance writing contracts, and occasionally playing the role of "Dad" when time permits.
Brad is also the only guy on this staff who prefers the Xbox One to other platforms. And he's not budging on that one bit.