With more than 93 million copies sold so far, Assassin’s Creed is one of the gaming industry’s biggest franchises.
This immense popularity will come as little surprise to hardcore fans who have stuck with the ongoing story during the past nine years – while the time-hopping elements have their detractors, the distinctive blend of sword-swinging action and stealth keeps millions of fans hooked with each new release.
The latest entry, Syndicate, takes the action to Victorian London, with all the top hats, street urchins, and speeding carriages you’d expect. This has received its fair share of acclaim, classed as one of the best Assassin’s Creed titles yet, boasting plenty of outstanding moments.
But what about the other games? What are the most unforgettable parts of the entire series itself?
Let’s take a look at our top 10, in no particular order …
- 1 Assembling your Own Assassin Army
- 2 Flying Leonardo da Vinci’s Invention
- 3 Ghost-hunting with Charles Dickens
- 4 Fighting on the Roof of a Speeding Carriage
- 5 Upgrading your Ship in Black Flag
- 6 Your First Taste of Naval Combat in Black Flag
- 7 Kicking Butt and Taking Names … as Desmond
- 8 Minerva Sends the Series into Strange New Areas
- 9 Zipping through London with the Rope Launcher
- 10 Your First Leap of Faith
- 11 Running Free with Parkour
Assembling your Own Assassin Army
As an assassin, much of your tracking-and-killing is performed solo. However, in Brotherhood, this all changed.
Being able to recruit assassins helps to give the game a more epic feel, and sending them out on missions across the globe brings a real sense of achievement, not unlike the army-building thrills of MGS 5: The Phantom Pain.
Find yourself in a sticky situation during a mission? No worries – call for backup, and one of your allies will be there to help. Have numerous targets to execute? Just order an Arrow Storm, and your enemies will drop within seconds.
Flying Leonardo da Vinci’s Invention
The Assassin’s Creed series has featured an impressive roster of historical figures, and these have helped to introduce some of the most iconic moments.
In the second main instalment, players got the chance to take Ezio out for a spin in Leonardo da Vinci’s flying machine, soaring over beautiful Florence on artificial wings. The machine is brilliantly rendered in the style of da Vinci’s famous sketches, and its animations are impressively authentic.
Kicking guards while in flight never gets old, either!
Ghost-hunting with Charles Dickens
In Syndicate, a stand-out feature has to be conducting paranormal investigations with one of the world’s most iconic authors. Charles Dickens welcomes Jacob and Evie Frye into his Ghost Club, before inviting them to embark on various side-quests at his side.
Seeing Dickens himself brought to life in a video game, and actually playing a part (albeit small) in his history, helps to make Syndicate such a unique experience.
Fighting on the Roof of a Speeding Carriage
Another outstanding moment from Syndicate?
The first time you climb on top of a horse-drawn carriage to duke it out with a foe. While fighting on the roof of a car in a present day-set game would be amazing enough, the Victorian setting makes this as absurd as it is awesome.
While the athletic skill needed to actually stay standing on the roof of a moving carriage is surely beyond even the most seasoned assassin, exchanging hits with an enemy without falling to the cobbles in a heap demands super-human levels of balance.
Still, not that we’re complaining – these sequences are endlessly replayable, and hard to tire of.
Upgrading your Ship in Black Flag
Black Flag’s sailing is one of the coolest gameplay elements ever, and upgrading your own personal ship is a pretty addictive system you can’t help but fall for.
Improving your cannons, your hull armour, and your ram strength is just some of the fun on offer, allowing you to build the Jackdaw into a vessel to be feared. You can also tweak the ship’s appearance, experimenting with a huge range of sails, wheels, and figureheads.
For those of us in love with customisation and keeping things fresh, Black Flag’s ship-management is irresistible.
On the subject of Black Flag’s seafaring goodness, who can forget the thrill of your first naval battle?
This is a fairly complicated system, and it takes some getting used to, but the sheer spectacle of engaging enemy ships on a choppy sea is absolutely mind-blowing. Ramming vessels, bombarding them with cannon balls, and then boarding them to engage in some swashbuckling action – what more could you want from a pirate-themed game?
Kicking Butt and Taking Names … as Desmond
At the close of Assassin’s Creed II, we finally get to experience some present-day combat when modern lad Desmond wakes from his time in the Animus to find his team’s hideout under attack.
With the skills he’s picked up from his ancestors, Desmond is able to take down one bad guy after another, using a handy Hidden Blade. This is a fairly brief section, but shifting the combat from the past to the present is a great way to end the game, and shows us a new side of Desmond.
Minerva Sends the Series into Strange New Areas
Before Assassin’s Creed 2 gives players the chance to slay enemies as Desmond, it throws a bizarre element into the mix: a holographic representation of Minerva, a special lady carrying an important message for the good guys.
As part of a technologically-advanced race, Minerva was one of many killed after a disastrous event wiped out much of Earth’s life. This is a pretty big exposition dump, but it sets up the series’ wider universe, and whets the appetite for more revelations.
Fans either love or hate this, but at least nobody can say they saw it coming.
Zipping through London with the Rope Launcher
In order to get across London as and when needed, Syndicate introduced the rope launcher.
This handy little creation allows the Frye twins to propel themselves from street to rooftop within seconds, and zip-line from one building to another. This makes travelling fast and easy, eliminating the risk of boredom you feel on other games when crossing back and forth slower than you’d like.
Your First Leap of Faith
As anyone who’s played Rocksteady’s Arkham games knows, sitting atop a vantage point to survey a living world below is nothing new. However, the Assassin’s Creed series has one ace up its sleeve: the leap of faith.
Dropping from a high point and landing flat on your back, in haystacks, is a beautifully elegant move that feels very much a unique part of the franchise. The first time you do this, taking in the gorgeous surroundings and the mind-bending amount of detail that makes them up, is pretty special.
Running Free with Parkour
Parkour might not impress the average person as much as it used to, but when Assassin’s Creed first hit the market back in 2007, this amazing urban trend was enjoying huge popularity (just watch the opening to Daniel Craig’s first Bond movie, Casino Royale, for further proof).
Running, jumping, and climbing through ancient Jerusalem with unbelievable athletic grace remains an unforgettable moment Assassin’s Creed gave us. The system has evolved somewhat in the nine years since, but it’s still beautiful to experience today.
What are your favourite moments from the Assassin’s Creed series? Let us know!