I play a stupid amount of video games. But I never tackled the Assassin’s Creed franchise. I played a bit of I at a friends house. I started into II a few years back, but got distracted by something shiny and never finished it. I did come across Assassin’s Creed IV in the past and really enjoyed the naval part of the game woven into the traditional Assassin’s Creed parkour.

I am assuming anyone who is reading this is vaguely familiar with the franchise and its premise, but for those that don’t know: It is an action stealth game. It depicts a centuries-old struggle, now and then, between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The series features historical fiction,science fiction and characters, intertwined with real-world historical events and figures. For the majority of the time, players would control an Assassin in the past history, while they also play as Desmond Miles or an Assassin Initiate in the present day, who hunt down their Templar targets.

It was and still is notable for the ‘parkour’ style controls and the array of assassin’s tools to help you take out your targets.

But does it hold up?

Hell yeah it does.

Assassin’s Creed I:
Solid build and introduction to the series. Such a clever premise to place the start of the game in current times and then use an ‘Animus’, a device that could take DNA samples and then project into that persons memories. The series uses this device to place each game in a distinct historic time-frame. This one centers on a shamed Assassin that had to regain his honor in the Third Crusade (1189–1192). Butter smooth controls and brilliant weave of sci-fi and history. This is the game that laid out the context of the centuries old conflict between Assassin’s and Templars. Plus it was just fun to run and kill people.

Assassin’s Creed II:
This is tied for the best of this series with IV or Rogue. While visually not looking that dramatically different from I, it took place in the late 15th Century in Florence, Italy. Leonardo da Vinci, is prominently featured and helps you in your Assassin’s missions. Tighter controls, way bigger maps, and buried secrets while fun… when you are tasked to run around a map to find 100 whatevers, it gets pretty transparent that these types of activities were crowbar-ed in just to extend the playing time of the game. That aside, great story that built on everything its predecessor did but just a couple steps better.

Assassin’s Creed III:
The worse entry of this series in this review. I was stoked to see their take on Revolutionary America and where the Assassin’s Guild or the Templars placed their allegiances. The story was actually good. With each major assassination, your character has a quick chat with the guy you just took out that typically pushes the narrative of the overall story. The character progressions and conflicts were intricate and satisfying. Where it misses is they tried to ‘parkour’ up nature. The first two games took place in cities that were made up of close together buildings, making the climbing nature of the game visually make sense. In III, much of the game takes place in the wilderness. And even in the cities, they had to just warp trees all over to make climbing spots. It worked control wise, but it was an awkward flow that pales in comparison to the fluid mechanics of the first two. And again, too many ‘find a 100 of these’ for no reason. The story is the only thing that really makes this worth playing. Especially if you are going to play Rogue next. The epic ending did a lot to push the overall arc of the series.

(OK… I didn’t play IV in this run, but had played it to completion before)

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
This was my favorite of the series until Rogue. The series took a dramatic redesign in game play. The signature parkour movement was still the core of the game, but a lot of action took place on the sea. Set in the Caribbean Sea, battles ended with a deck to deck fight that capped off each encounter nicely as you plundered the defeated ships cargo. It was basically Assassin’s Creed: Pirate Edition. Addicting, fun, and a pretty epic completion time.

Assassin’s Creed Rogue:
In the timeline of the series, this takes place in the era just before III took place. It was an exciting surprise to see main characters from III making appearances. So the beginning of III is actually the end of Rogue, story-wise. The actual game is almost identical to AC IV: Black Flag, but with a way better Assassin/Templar story line and much less dynamic ‘real-world’ story line. Once again, sea battles and a great story line saved a game that fast becomes meaningless busy work if you let it. Plus you can harpoon whales, so…

Overall, the series holds up just fine. With excellent control, graphics, and story lines, the adventures becomes so much more when you play them back to back. It is worth mentioning that games of this era like to put other games in their games. Why would anyone want to play checkers in the middle of saving the world? Me apparently, because I spent more hours playing checkers in Rogue that I will admit out loud.

So hows that? I hate one of the games features that I spent hours doing. I’m messed up.

Thus ends my quest to rock these games back to back. It took months.

Was it worth it? Probably not, but I guess you are reading this.

I did this for you.