Playing a video game is certainly not the same as reading a book. All the same, I love absorbing the story of any game I play, which is probably why I prefer RPGs. There are a handful of games I have played, thoroughly enjoyed and then promptly forgot the story (I’m looking at you, Final Fantasy IV). Determined to avoid this in the future, I’ve decided to use Sundays as a way to recap the stories of the games I am currently playing (unless I feel like posting a book or movie review). Written like a story, I hope these posts will be interesting to everyone, regardless of their interest in video games. Today, I am recalling the first part of Assassin’s Creed. The core of the story takes place in the Middle East during the Third Crusade.
It should go without saying that this post includes spoilers for the first Assassin’s Creed game.
Desmond Miles has been kidnapped by Abstergo Industries. They’ve built a machine that allows them to tap into his ancestry. With little choice in the matter, Desmond enters the machine and lives through the memories of Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, a member of the Assassin’s Brotherhood. The year is 1191; Altaïr is living in what history will call the Third Crusade of the Holy Land.
In these initial memories, Altaïr is with other members of the Brotherhood on a mission to retrieve Pieces of Eden from Solomon’s Temple. He is an arrogant assassin, sure of his skill and with little care for any who get in the way. This is the attitude that brings him to break the three tenets of the Brotherhood.
- Stay your blade from the innocent
- Hide in plain sight
- Never compromise the Brotherhood
Upon entering the temple, Altaïr kills a man who got in his way. Venturing further, he and his comrades see the Grand Master of the Templars, Robert de Sable, has beaten them to their prize. He gives no thought to hiding as he rushes forward, declaring his involvement with the Brotherhood and his determination to take the Pieces of Eden from them. All tenets have been tossed aside.
A chaotic fight ensues, ending with Altaïr tossed out of the chamber and blocked from reëntry by falling stones and debris. He can do nothing as he listens to the dying cries of his comrades. He returns to the Assassins’ stronghold at Masyaf a failure. As he voices his apologies to Al Mualim,, leader of the Assassin’s, he is interrupted by one of his comrades. Along with the Pieces of Eden, he brings news of Altaïr’s disregard for the Assassin’s Creed. Al Mualim strips Altaïr of his rank, returning him to a novice.
In order to regain his rank, Altaïr must assassinate key figures throughout Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus.
Tamir, a black market merchant in Damascus, is Altaïr’s first target. Like any assassin, Altaïr is given little information other than the order to kill. Through investigations in the city, he learns Tamir sells to both the Crusaders and Saracens. He has no qualms about being a death merchant profiting from the war. Altaïr finds him in a public square arguing with another merchant. After this event, Tamir is distracted while he checks in on his various shops. Altaïr takes the opportunity to slay his target.
Tamir’s Last Words: Ah, but he thinks I act alone. I am but a piece. A man with a part to play. You’ll come to know the others soon enough…they won’t take kindly to what you’ve done. [Altair: Good, I look forward to ending their lives as well.] Such pride…it will destroy you child.
The next target, Garnier De Naplouse, is in Acre. There he runs a sadistic hospital. He started his career treating patients, but soon saw them to be little more than experiments. The blood of his patients was a fair price to pay, in his mind, for the knowledge gained. Word of Garnier’s ways spread through Acre and many feared him. When Altaïr approaches the fortress, he encounters a commotion over a runaway patient. Garnier tries to coax the man back into the fortress, but the man declares Garnier’s actions to be evil. Seeing he is committed to his flee, Garnier orders his guards to break both of his legs.
After the violent scene, Garnier returns to his work which provides the perfect distraction for Altaïr’s mission. He slays the mad doctor. With his dying breath, Garnier insist his work was necessary, saying he took in the poorest and the sickest people. He claims his methods were necessary to the health of those he could save. Specifically, Garnier mentions freeing the people from their own minds. Altaïr seems somewhat taken aback that, with his dying breadth, the doctor would hold fast to his actions instead of repenting. He asks if he truly believes he was helping people.
Garnier’s Last Words: It’s not what I believe…. It’s what I know.
The best thing about this game is that people of multiple faiths and ethnicities were involved in its creation. You can tell that they tried to make the game as accurate as possible. I’m not sure about Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, but his targets are all real historic figures during the Third Crusade. I feel like I’m playing through a history book, which is thrilling.