Step Into The Animus With Me: An Assassin’s Creed Mega Marathon

So here’s why I said you might be amused or annoyed yesterday. Instead of spending my suddenly valuable free time doing something more productive, I’m going to replay five games I’ve already played in the past – some of them half a dozen times over.

It’s my yearly Assassin’s Creed marathon, which grows in scope and horror every year thanks to Ubisoft’s current love of yearly releases.

In 2009 it was simply ‘maybe I should replay the first game before the second comes out next month’ which is a perfectly normal thing and something I’ve done with other titles a few times as well. It grew from there as the game library grew, until I had four games to pile through in just over a month before Assassin’s Creed III came out. To not do it now feels like abandoning a tradition.

And with Potaku around, it feels like a great opportunity to get all nostalgic about one of my favourite game series of all time. As I complete each game I’d like to write about it in more detail – how I felt about it the first time I played it and how I feel about it today, because sometimes those feelings are very, very different already, and could change even further. I love Assassin’s Creed but I’ve never really sat down and explained why in a lot of detail before, nor have I really thought about it on any deep level. So it’s an exciting opportunity to justify to myself just why I feel this way.

In the last few years, the release dates for each game have roughly coincided with the end of a university semester. Last year’s October 31st release was a bit more villainous in that I still had a week of classes left. Either way, it meant that I was running my marathon through the busiest time of the semester, in the middle of gigantic essays and piles of reference books, but they actually complimented each other well. When I’d earned a break, I’d load up an Assassin’s Creed game and make a bit of progress.

But as you’ll know if you read my words yesterday, things are a lot busier now, which is why I’m gearing up for the start earlier. This is what I’ve been thinking:
– Assassin’s Creed has 7 sequences
– II has 14 sequences (including the two missing ones that later came in as DLC)
– Brotherhood has 10 sequences (including the Da Vinci DLC)
– Revelations has 15 sequences (including the Lost Archive DLC and the 5 Desmond missions, though they could also be lumped into one sequence)
– III has 12 sequences (here, I’m counting the three Desmond missions as part of the memory sequences that come before them, as they’re rather brief – I also haven’t counted the Washington DLC as I don’t own it…although…)
– That’s 58 sequences that could be divided up into 58 days, one sequence a day
– Assassin’s Creed IV releases in exactly 58 days

If I started today, at a rate of one sequence a day, I would finish the third (actually the fifth) game on the day the fourth (actually the sixth) comes out. Sounds like it could work, but there are a few problems. Any day that I don’t play the game puts me another day behind, and it’s easy to let those days pile up and force yourself to have to run multiple sequences a day in an effort to catch up. It also doesn’t count things like side missions – because even with an objective like this it’s easy to just want to run around the locations and not advance the main story. Following this path will also lead to horrible inconsistencies. The last sequences of every game are generally incredibly short, while some mid-game sequences are incredibly long. So on some days it might feel like doing three or four sequences is achievable while on others doing just one will take a frustrating amount of time.

But the big problem is fatigue – after five games from the same series, will I even want to play the sixth? I felt a bit of this last year, where I just got incredibly bored with the whole affair near the end of it. But by then I was midway through Revelations, so giving up there felt pointless. The feeling of forcing yourself to finish playing something you might not really be enjoying anymore is a bad one for sure, but I’ve found so far that moving into the newest game at the end of it all feels a lot like a recharge. Because it’s new – especially in the case of III which changed so much – it’s suddenly very exciting again.

The other plan was to start playing the games on the date that Desmond is captured by Abstergo in the first game, but a quick look online reveals that to be September 3rd (or possibly a day earlier) so that’s flown out the window. Playing by the dates is one of these strange joys I have with Assassin’s Creed. Last year, when the third game launched on October 31st, the exact day for Desmond and co at the beginning of the game was the same. It’s this indescribable ‘hey, this is happening right now’ feeling, even though it’s just a video game. Maybe I take these games too seriously.

It’s all looking quite daunting right now. Maybe one sequence a day isn’t the best way to play it – more generally in the past I’ve just relied on gut instinct in deciding what was a good place to stop playing each day. The time for completion on each game varies. Assassin’s Creed usually takes four to five days at most, II over a week. But it’s all so difficult to determine from the outset, so I’m thinking it’s better to start early. Two months to finish five games. It should be enough. It will be enough. Because I’m frustratingly passionate about this series and sticking to this tradition and then I get to tell you about which games I really love and which I’m not so fond of.

You know, if you didn’t know already. Because I never shut up about these games.

The 2013 Assassin’s Creed Five Game Mega Monstrosity September/October Marathon begins now!

It all begins with a question.

Are you Desmond Miles?

2 comments

  1. I recall discussing AC:Rev (I think) with you, and you said it was more enjoyable the second time around since you’d had a bit of a break from AC.
    Are you not concerned that saturating your free time with AC games might sully your experience with ACIV?

    1. I must have missed that paragraph which mentions fatigue.

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