Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ezio Auditore da Firenze--The People's Assassin.

   Now, a lot of you might be wondering why exactly I talked so much about the gameplay of Assassin's Creed by comparing the games.  Well, the truth is it was all originally going to be one long post about why I believe Ezio Auditore da Firenze to be the best Assassin and his games to be my favorites for many reasons.  I already talked heavily about why I enjoyed the gameplay of his story, but now I want to talk about Ezio the person.  Let's first talk about the others.

Forewarning:  There will be spoilers for Assassin's Creed 1-3.

The Competition:

     I don't like Desmond.  He's whinny.  Not enough personality to make me interested.  Get progressively uglier through the games.  Kills Lucy.  Don't like.

Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad:
      The opening to Assassin's Creed 1 introduces Altaïr as a highly ranked Assassin, fueled by hubris who makes a risky move and ends up risking the lives of many of his friends.  Malik, for example, loses his brother as well as his arm and the entire Assassin stronghold is attacked.  Malik remains as a character through the entire game and helps to show Altaïr's progression as a person as he matures.  Altaïr starts out as arrogant, rude, cocky, and over all, annoying.  He left his friends to die and, throughout the game, must learn to try to gain Malik's forgiveness.  Honestly, I can't remember all that much about the first game.  For a while, I would have said Altaïr was my least favorite assassin, but this artist has really made me love him, even if a lot of this is noncanon.  (And seriously, if you love Assassin's Creed, check out Doubleleaf.  Their art is fantastic and very funny!)

       That's the problem I have with the 1st game as a whole:  It's not memorable.  Yes, there were memorable scenes and that opening is very very strong and has stuck with me to this day, but upon my play through, nothing felt perfect.  Not to say I don't love Altaïr.  (Also, the bro can't swim in a foot of water....).  The graphic above says what some believe each Assassin to stand for.  I do believe that this game is, in fact, Altaïr's struggle to regain his honor.  The game is a nice intro, but not the best by far.  Plus, I did enjoy his return in Revelations to finish up his story.  For the first game in the series, it was great, but just not my favorite.  

Ratonhnhaké:ton "Connor" Kenway:
    Now, as you should know by now, I love Haytham.  I thought his intro was the best part of the game.  The twist, learning he was a Templar, was fantastic and a great change of pace from the first two games.  That said, I would have preferred to play this game entirely through his eyes instead of his (boring) son.  At first, you do feel sympathy for little Connor whose village is burned down and mother killed etc etc.  I even liked the elderly assassin, Achilles, who taught him.  What upset me, though, was his hell bent on revenge attitude.  The game is 100% focused on Connor's attempts to find and kill the man in charge who is taking his land.  Connor, as a character, was boring.  He was almost monotone and very very strict, almost reminiscent of Altair.  The different being Alaïr grew as a person past his hubris, whereas Connor's vengeance grew.  The whole story seemed boring and uninteresting because he was so set on revenge and nothing else!  I didn't even really understand why he joined the Assassin's other than the fact that Lee was a Templar. 

     The one thing that gave him an ounce of personality was the homestead missions. When he saves Myriam, I thought they might have a romantic relationship but was sorely disappointed.  I did like her pairing up with Norris though ^^.  This however, was something I seemed to have forgotten to talk about in the last post.  My favorite feature was the Homestead mission--getting to help others and getting more stuff to do in return.  This was absolutely great, except really, all it did was make me like all those characters more than Connor!

    The whole game seemed to be centered on his inability to get over his childhood vendetta.  He says he is fighting for the "freedom" of his people, but honestly, it didn't feel like it past the first few stages and instead became a quest for Lee's blood.  I would have preferred to see him try a little harder to win his father over instead of just stabbing him in the neck.  I feel like more talking could have been done, and the scenes where they are together are always the most interesting.  More father-son love would be great <3.  In the end, I think Connor is boring and I'm glad he's been passed over with time.  Also, seeing where his name came from was a very touching moment I did enjoy, but that added more character to Achilles than to Connor.  I will say, watching this scene again does make me like him slightly more as he realizes his faults and essentially calls Achilles his father in a sweet way.  Perhaps I didn't like it as much since it was U.S. history and I already knew how things would turn out vs Italian.

Edward Kenway:
    Ol' Grandpa Kenway is much better than his grandson thankfully.  I've (sadly) not finished, or even halfway completed the 4th installment due to work and all that kind of stuff, but so far, Edward is alright.  The only thing that irks me is he isn't really an assassin.  he story itself is sort of blurry to me, and I understand, as a pirate, he should be neutral, but in this sense, it makes it seem like really, he has no business doing what he is.  I probably just need to play more, but so far, I'm not totally in love.  However, you guys as the audience had him tied with Ezio as your favorite, so I hope he lives up to that!
      What I can say so far is I do enjoy the way he interacts with his first mate, Adéwalé, as well as the crew as a whole.  I like that they do reference the racism of the times and that Edward, although not crusading for freedom, accepts Adéwalé and helps him regardless.  Something I left out that I LOVE about this game are the sea shanties!  Nothing makes you feel more like a real pirate than listening to your crew sing songs as you sail the seven seas!  Not to mention hearing Edward giving orders and getting to decide the fate of every ship you take down.  This one is immersive into the world of Caribbean piracy as we know it and I enjoy that aspect.  Edward's character--sometimes light hearted and sometimes serious--helps.  The graphic above is from before his time, but I'd have to say at least as far as I can tell, he fights for freedom (all pirates do in a way), gold, or perhaps even for something like his lover.

Aveline de Grandpré:
    Same rules as above apply.  Haven't gotten to play her game, but man o man do I want to!  I'm so happy to finally get a lady assassin!  I've always wanted one ever since I saw the statues of Amunet and Iltani in the Sanctuary.  I will say I think her outfit is my favorite of the recent ones.  I love Ezio's red and white combo a little better, but if I myself were an assassin, I would probably lean more towards something like this.  The blue looks way better on her than on Connor ^^.  I also love her dress when she is just being an awesome lady so, kudos to you miss Aveline, kudos.  Showing you can be beautiful and terrifying in one picture ^^.

The People's Assassin--Ezio Auditore da Firenze:

The First Few Minutes:
         If you haven't figure out that Ezio is my favorite by this point, you might need to re-read my entire blog.  Ezio has been my favorite since before I even began playing--he was the first character I watched.  Ezio made such a big impact on me that I completely changed consoles, I changed game types, and changed for the better.  The truth is, I don't know how to describe all the things I love about Ezio, but I'll try to be coherent.  Let's start from his intro.
    This scene is what sold me.  In the first 10 minutes, you not only get the (creepy) scene of Ezio being born (which I left out intentionally) and then this one.  Why does this stick me in?  Although the first scene is...gross, it shows you how human he is.  You are literally with this character from birth to his death.  You are connected with his every movement.  At that moment, when you press a button to just move his arm, you see how you are this character and you must take care of him.

     Then, it jumps you to 17 year old Ezio.  What's that?  Yes.  Ezio is SEVENTEEN in this scene.  When I first played this, I was 14.  As a kid, that made me sooo happy.  It might seem creepy or weird, but I thought to myself "if I lived back then, I could totally date him."  I looked up to him:  he was hot, close to my age, young, cocky, and awesome.  The best part was when he got his scar.  This scene shows Ezio getting wounded, bleeding, and keeping a scar that persists his whole life.  That shows how human Ezio is.  Sure, he would most likely die or be covered in a myriad of scars (which he isn't for some reason) but one was enough to make me love him.  I even used the same scar on Thief because I find it so awesome!

     Here, you also get to see the relationship he has with his family.  His playful interaction with his older brother, his care and love for the younger brother, the reverence of his father and love of his mother, and of course, his devotion to his little sister.  His interactions with Claudia do more than just show his family relationship, but also allow Ezio to narrate the stories through his letters to her.  I LOVED this.  It made him seem like the caring big brother who writes back to his sister as often as he can.  However, moments after this scene of him enjoying time with his brother in a cleverly placed climbing and fighting tutorial, they are ripped away from him.  Ezio's brothers and father are hanged and Ezio is sent into a rage of confusion and sorrow.  This scene was beyond unexpected and a hard hitting scene to make you feel with poor Ezio.  Everything was taken away from him in only a few minutes of gameplay.  You are left to help him pick up the pieces of his life.

     Not only that, but it shows the beginning of a budding relationship between him and Cristina.  This relationship is expanded between the games, and is utterly heart breaking.  Below is the full extent of Ezio's relationship with his childhood love using clips from II and Brotherhood to show the full story.  This poor thing is heartbreaking.  The best part is, Ezio made a mistake.  It is not all Cristina or anyone else's fault.  Ezio's new life caused him to make a mistake and leave the love of his life behind.  This is probably my favorite thing about the Ezio trilogy: the love story.  Ezio's love story is tragic.  Not only does Cristina, his childhood love, die, but his other love, Caterina--died of pneumonia without ever really being with him.  Ezio experiences the tragedy of losing the women he loves and yet is still able to complete his missions, be charming, and never be dull or overly broody.  He is able to retain his humor and fun through his troubles, which I find extremely admirable.  At least he ends up happy with Sophia ^^       

The Ladies:
      As I was saying, Ezio has quiet the game with the ladies. Ezio is shown seducing and sleeping with many women, although he had an adorably awkward start.  Whereas characters like Duke Nukem and Jake Conway portray women as sexy objects and nothing more, it never feels like that for a second in Assassin's Creed.  Now, the first scene with Cristina is a shock, especially to 14 year old me, but Ezio never felt like he used women; in fact, the Ezio trilogy features a huge cast of strong women!  First of all is Ezio's sister, Claudia.

    Claudia, at first, is mainly unable to help her big brother in his attempts to avenge their family, but soon becomes an amazing character.  "Claudia became the Madame of the Rosa in Fiore, the city's most popular brothel. Eventually, after proving herself to be a worthy fighter to her brother, Ezio inducted Claudia into the Order of Assassins."  Claudia is an assassin.  Let me repeat that.  Claudia is an Assassin!  The moment Ezio lets her join the ranks was one of my favorite moments in the entire series.  She was an empowering character and it was so great to see her throughout the games as she matured.

Lucrezia captures Cristina
     Next up is Cristina, who was able to hold her own as a countess!  She even hired a hitman on her own horrible husband and ruled by herself like a boss.  Of course, every good girl needs a good villain, and hers came in the form of Lucrezia Borgia--a wildly interesting lady with an...interesting past.  Lucrezia was so interesting, with her strange....very strange relationship with her brother and family, a former affair with an Assassin, love affairs, even trying to seduce good ol' Ezio, gives her a great personality you love to hate!  I even enjoy her outfit although it's....eeeeeeeehhhhhhh.  I still love the chemistry between Ezio and Lucrezia.

    Not only are there amazing love interests, but Ezio learns nearly all his best skills from girls!  First of all, Paola from La Rosa Colta, teaches Ezio to blend, pickpocket, lower his notoriety, and all kinds of important skills.  How awesome is that?  The courtesans introduced not only depth to the story, but allowed for more stealth tactics, as you could now blend with more than just priests.  This added all new mechanics that were so much fun to use.  I was honestly sad that courtesans were not an option in Assassin's Creed 3!  Luckily, Edward brought them back in 4.  I also feel pickpocketing was the most fun in these games and became useless in following games.  These games had the coolest and most stuff to buy!  There was also Rosa, who taught him how to do the extended jumps!  She was a member of the thieves guild, became a madam of a brothel, and an assassin.  I LOVE all the feminine influence on Ezio's life!  It's great!  Although people will complain Ezio is not female, I think it's more inspiring that he listened to girls and learned from them.

The Side Characters:
      Ezio was more than just a man with the ladies, as he had a lot of great male friends as well.  My favorite, of course, is Leonardo da Vinci.  I loved seeing a character I could recognize from history instantly and who we got to meet in the first few minutes.  I can not express how much I adore Leo in this series.  He is funny, clever, helps out all the time, and makes the coolest stuff for you to use!  I loved every moment with Leonardo and I think he is actually what hooked me on the game other than Ezio's looks.  The idea that a game could have real people from history interacting with you was amazing!  I couldn't pick just one favorite scene with Leo, so I had to pick my 2 favorites!  The first video was my absolute favorite moment in the games as it showed 1.) How devoted Ezio was, 2.) How trixy and hilarious Leo was, and 3.) How cute they were when they interacted.  Also, this first video was uploaded by user name Edward Kenway.....too perfect.  The second even deals with the speculation that Leonardo was homosexual, talks about one of his most famous paintings (which you get to see in the game), and displaying Ezio's adorable obliviousness.  I'm sure this scene went over the heads of many, but I love the nods to real history!

     But good ol' Leo was only one of many amazing supporting characters.  The Medici family, the Borgias, and Yusuf Tazim!  Ezio's fans among the assassins were hilarious to meet as they swooned over him like I did.  Also, the mechanic of using assassins in battle in Brotherhood was both fun and endearing.  I was actually worried for each member of my group.  One of my assassin's died and I was legitimately sad.  Though this sort of sending them on missions returned in AC4 as ships, it's much less personal--although I hate losing crew.  Also...I feel like I'm forgetting someone.....oh ya.

The Little Things:
       The little details of the Ezio trilogy made me the most happy.  The historical basis, the lively characters and places, the colorful cities and expansive maps, all that good stuff.  Although the history is altered, it helped me a lot in my European history as well as English classes, since Machiavelli's The Prince is a very important piece of history that is discussed in the games, as well as the Borgia corruption.  Ironically, The Borgias TV Show started not long after and I was able to tell my mother (with a master in English as a teacher with a near minor in history) all about Cesare, Lucrezia, and Roderigo.  It also helped me remember which Pope proctored the Treaty of Tordesillas!  All kinds of little things added up to make me love the game.  The mechanics felt great, the progression felt even better.  Also, in all the Assassin's Creed games, I enjoy the use of alternate languages.  I felt like this series had just the right peppering of Italian throughout the games.  I even learned how to cuss in Italian!  Er...I to say good morning....yaaaaa. 
The Trilogy:
       Although I don't agree with the picture about Ezio being set on revenge on the first game--especially compared to Connor--I do agree with the others: Justice and Answers.  My favorite thing about Ezio was being with him from birth to retirement and then to his death.  You experience every twist and turn in Ezio's life, and it makes you feel so connected to him.  I loved the way Ezio grew from a broken boy who lost everything to a family man who set the Assassin's in a place of power.  I felt so satisfied chasing down Cesare over the years of Ezio's life.  Unlike Charles Lee, Cesare appeared many times as well as his father, Rodrigo as they taunted Ezio.  They were clear cut villains and I felt justified taking them out, just like Ezio.  The first two games did a great job of setting up Ezio's character.

     I do agree that Revelations was the weakest of the games, but I do admire what it did in showing Ezio's age and happy ending.  I feel that it was a much needed segment of closure in Ezio's life and the mechanics were made to show his change from a sprightly young man to a more careful and cautious older man adjusting to a new place far from home.  I have to say my favorite thing from this game was Yusuf and bomb making, but it's all I can remember.  Story-wise, it was great, game wise.....

       Ezio did more for me than just bring me to a new gaming console--he changed me forever.  I was never the type to put posters of boys or bands on my walls, unlike my friends.  I was never happier than the day Joellen gave me the Assassin's Creed Revelations poster that now hangs on my closet door.  It's especially nice since it has Altaïr on it too (even if it is just his back...).  I'll also be adding my Edward poster from pre-ordering AC4 up in my bedroom too and one day I want to get a poster of younger Ezio.

      Assassin's Creed 2-Revelations helped me with history and coming out of my shell, opening me up to a whole new platform of gaming which spawned the post you all know and love!  I have to say, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood is y favorite videogame.  I love Ezio Auditore da Firenze as a person, a character, and an inspiration. 

    I'm sorry if this was rambly or too long, but I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into my mind.  I'd like to know who your favorite assassin is and why!  Put it in the comments or in an email to me, and maybe I'll make a post and address some issues if anyone brings up a point I forgot or skipped over!  I hope you all enjoyed this post!  It took a lot of time and effort, but here it is!  If I offended anyone with my views, I'm sorry; these are my personal views and biases.  I hope you all enjoyed this and I'll see you all in my next post!