Assassin's Creed is a 2007 action game from Ubisoft and the first game in the Assassin's Creed series. It takes place in the Holy Land, AD 1191, where disgraced Assassin Alta´r ibn-La'Ahad works to redeem himself by eliminating nine men in several cities who are prolonging the Third Crusade. Alta´r has swordfighting moves at his disposal, as well as a mastery of Le Parkour, throwing knives, and a nifty retractable blade.No wait, scratch that; while that describes the majority of the game, there's a Framing Story. Desmond Miles is an ordinary bartender, circa September 2012, when he's kidnapped and delivered to Abstergo Industries, where Dr. Warren Vidic has him subjected to a device called the "Animus", which allows its users to experience Genetic Memory. Desmond is a descendant of Alta´r, and Abstergo wants to know what Alta´r knew.Alta´r's story begins when he breaks the three tenets of the Assassin's Creed on a mission to recover an artifact from Robert de Sable, a Templar leader. Alta´r kills an innocent, refuses to remain discreet by unabashedly facing the leader alone, and compromises his two brothers: one of whom is killed, while the other, Malik, loses his arm. Al Mualim, master of the Assassins, demotes Alta´r to the bottom of the ranks, strips him of most of his gear (and most of his skills, explainable in that he required the gear for many of them — no sword skills without his sword, no ledge-grabs without his gloves, etc.), but tells Alta´r that he must eliminate nine corrupt, exploitative men who are abusing the Holy Land, perpetuating the Crusades and generally kicking the dog. Alta´r has the chance to recover his lost prestige by killing these men, all of whom seem fairly confident in their righteousness when killed. Not surprisingly, there's a lot more going on behind the scenes that causes Alta´r, and his descendant Desmond, to question what is truly happening in the world around them.The game's plot bears many similarities to a book titled Alamut, though there are enough changes to say that it isn't an adaptation so much as a simple case of "inspired by...".As far as critical reception goes, it was generally well received as another roof-hopper in the vein of Prince of Persia (by the same developers), if derided for a little too much repetition and a bizarre need to fill a stealth game with combat towards the end. The framing story was used as a way to maintain Prince of Persia's Nonlethal KO mechanic — Desmond must maintain "sync" with Alta´r, so the player can only act as Alta´r would and not act out of accord with history or Desmond will lose sync and the memory will have to be restarted. The gameplay is composed of various assassination missions, which also involve hunting down people for information and also killing other men who might get in the way. Like any good stealth game, Alta´r must handle these by blending in to his environment and drawing minimal attention or he'll have a legion of angry guards waiting to take his head off.As the game ended with a clear Sequel Hook and sold extremely well, it should come as no surprise that a sequel was developed, and the single game has spawned an entire franchise.Also note that this page may contain unmarked spoilers.
This game contains examples of
Alas, Poor Villain: After each major mission, Alta´r hears the dying speech of each man, all of whom sincerely believe they were doing the right thing and may even have been right. There is one exception, however, when he executes the ruler of a city who was actually just murdering his people for fun.
Ambiguously Gay: Abu'l Nuqoud, the Merchant King of Damascus, has vague traces of this trope, and many gamers were quick to notice the (not so) subtle hints. He is frequently described as "odd", claims contempt for God for considering him an abomination, and is seen caressing the arms of his muscular body guards.
There's also a Turkish flag in Damascus. This is despite the fact that a.) Damascus was under control of the Ayyubid dynasty at the time whose flag or banner was completely different, b.) The Ottoman Empire (where the flag originates) wouldn't exist for another century, and c.) The modern Ottoman flag wouldn't exist for another 650 years.
A Taste of Power: You start the game with maxed out equipment and techniques, as well as a nearly-maxed out health meter. However, you lose it all after the first mission (without even getting the chance to try all your abilities out) due to Alta´r's grievous abuse of said power.
Attempted Rape: The thugs are accusing those women of being thieves, but it's very obvious they have other intentions... at least until Alta´r shows up.
Authority Equals Asskicking: All of the assassination targets are Elite Mook level fighters if you go up against them toe-to-toe, and Robert De Sable and Al-Mualim are the best fighters in the game. Notable as this trope is much more absent in later games in the series.
Awesome McCoolname: Alta´r ibn La-Ahad, which translates to "Eagle, son of no one" or "The Bastard Eagle".
Half subverted when Revelations refers to him as "Alta´r, son of Umar", which would make his proper name Alta´r ibn Umar. Interestingly, his sons also bear the name "ibn La-Ahad".
Bag of Spilling: An in-game example — Alta´r loses all of his weapons and equipment after he's demoted at the beginning of the game. Hell, he even loses most of his hit points as well!
Batman Gambit: Al Mualim. Not only was he part of a Templar plot to gain control of the Piece of Eden, he counted on Alta´r to become a Jerk Ass and screw up in Solomon's Temple. Al Mualim then told the unwitting Assassin to murder the nine Templars in cahoots with the whole plot so he could have the artifact for himself.
Robert de Sable is pretty good at this as well. When Alta´r has killed all the Templar leaders, de Sable uses the fact that they were both Crusaders and Saracens to convince King Lionheart to ally with Saladin to crush the Assassins in one go. Also he expected that Alta´r would hunt him last so he made a trap at Addin's funeral to kill him so that he wouldn't be in his way while he went to the king and try to form the alliance with the Saracens. Ends up backfiring because King Richard decides to hear out Alta´r when he pleads his case about de Sable's plan instead of simply taking his side.
Bavarian Fire Drill: You can join groups of scholars and pretend to be praying to pass through various city gates unnoticed by the guards, who normally won't let you through. They even step aside to let the group of scholars pass more easily. However, this would not work if you just do the praying posture and try to step through the gate without real scholars accompanying you.
Blade Below the Shoulder: Alta´r's default weapon for assassination is a spring-loaded blade that pops out of a gauntlet on his left hand. He can either quietly stab a guy in the back with this, or perform a dazzling leaping stab attack that gets a lot more attention.
Book Ends: Some of the first lines you hear in the Animus are also among the last in the game. Specifically "He that increaseth wisdom increaseth sorrow."
More specifically, the very first scene you see in the Animus while Desmond's psyche is rejecting it is the final boss arena. Makes sense seeing that that specific memory is the one Abstergo wants to find out where the Pieces of Eden are.
Brainwashed and CrazyPretty much everyone back at Masyaf at the end of the game when Al Mualim uses the Apple of Eden to take control of everyone.
Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": It's called synchronization in the first game, while Ezio has a straight-up health gauge in the second. Even lampshaded in the second game's manual, which features a "note" to change the name to "health" to make it feel more exciting.
Camera Screw: Ever since the first modern Prince of Persia, Ubisoft has insisted switching the camera to the most dramatic (read: inconvenient) angle for especially difficult jumping passages. AC continues the proud tradition. The idea, in theory, is to give you a very clear view of where exactly you are supposed to jump. However, since the controls are relative to where the camera is facing, the jump itself becomes harder to perform correctly.
Since the game's camera is forced to maintain a fixed distance away from the Player Character, the brief cutscenes when Alta´r performs a counter-attack usually make the camera adjust to even more inconvenient angles, especially when fighting in cramped, narrow areas.
City Guards: Lots and lots of city guards. They're so jumpy that they'll lay into you if you parkour around where they can see you, if you ride past at anything but the slowest speed, or even if somebody else shoves you into them.
Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The major cities are this, even Masyaf to an extend. Damascus, proud and strong, is shaded in gold all over. Jerusalem, city of both Muslim and Jewish faith and where Malik, future best friend and closest confident, lives is a glimmering green. Acre, torn apart by siege and sickness, is a dull gray. Masyaf is the silver of the Assassin Brotherhood. So even if you aren't sure where you stopped playing, one look at your surroundings is enough.
Conspicuously Public Assassination: The best parts of the game, really. One target is actually on-stage at a public execution when you take him out. Although it's possible to stealth-assassinate almost every mark, doing it in high-profile is just that much more fun. This trope also features notably in the opening cutscene.
Conspicuously Selective Perception: Though Alta´r has a distinctive mode of dress, even alerted guards will fail to remember him if they lose sight of him. And, as noted below, beggar women and lepers harass Alta´r and Alta´r only.
Grabbing, hitting, or pushing said beggars and lepers will result in a loss of sync. Luckily, the guards will only react if a leper or drunk pushes you into them. Then they attack you.
Contractual Boss Immunity: All of the Assassination Targets (including the 60 un-named Templars) are immune to throwing knives. They are not, however, immune to the one-hit-kill counter-attack of the Hidden Blade, which can be used to kill even the final bosses with one strike.
Cosmopolitan Council: The 1191 Templars included: A near even mix of five Christians, four Muslims and it's a completely even split, since the secret tenth Templar was Al Mualim.
The targets were a Frenchman (de Sable), a German (Sibrand), a scholar (Jubair), a merchant (Tamir), a slaver (Talal), a doctor (de Naplouse), a merchant king (Abul'Nuqoud), a Crusader (de Monferrat), a Saracen (Addin), and the obligatory woman Maria, the decoy for Robert near the end.
Couldn't Find a Pen: At the end of Assassin's Creed I, Desmond gets to see some elaborate drawings made by Subject 16 in blood. There are so many of them that one has to wonder how he managed to keep the drawings so neat. Although the 'couldn't find a pen' bit is subverted by the fact that a pen was what he actually used to kill himself. He painted the walls with blood because even after being cleaned away, he knew it would still show up in Eagle Vision.
Counter Attack: Famously abusable. Instant kill on lower enemies, usually no more than two on everyone else. Comes in three flavors. Punch/kick the enemy away for some damage, instant kill, and punch/kick to stun the enemy and initiate an instant kill if the attack button is pressed again. Enemies can counter Alta´r as well, sometimes for significant damage if they do it repeatedly. This can end up encouraging players to do nothing but use counters themselves.
Crapsack World: Implied through the emails you read on the computers. You find out that Africa's population has been decimated by a plague; massive number of illegal immigrants are crossing the U.S.-Mexican border... into Mexico, resulting in a shooting war between the U.S. and Mexico; hurricane season no longer exists, since hurricanes happen all throughout the year thanks to climate change; and the last film studio has closed, as piracy has destroyed the movie industry. Oh yeah, and did we mention that the year is 2012?
One of the main points of Assassin's Creed was that the world is just as hellish in 2012 as it was in 1191. The Templars want to fix it, without knowing that they're pretty much doubling up the world's problems through their ways.
Hilariously, all of those modern world issues were later retconned away by Assassins Creed: Initiates, with one of the entries revealing that hacker group Erudito added that stuff to Abstergo's newsletter.
Crazy Sane: Subject 16 only managed to accomplish the very, very important task set to him by doingthings that no sane person would ever do.
Cutscene: All (save the pre-title scene) masterfully executed within the game's engine.
Cutscene Power to the Max: The pre-title cutscene shows Alta´r using a crossbow, which you can't use in-game. Granted, this cutscene was also the first promotional trailer, so it didn't change between first sighting and the game's release.
Damned by Faint Praise: Why the Damascus rafiq is so very memorable to most players. "I envy you, not the being beaten up and stripped of your rank, but in every other way..."
"Oh, except for the terrible things the other Assassins say about you, but yes, aside from the failure and the hatred, yes, aside from those things, I envy you very much!"
Death by Irony: Majd Addin gets assassinated hosting a public execution.
Difficult but Awesome: Damn the Hidden Blade counters are very hard to time. Once you master them, though, everyone will die.
Disc One Nuke: You get the Hidden Blade and counter fairly early, so if you bother to master it, little can give you trouble in a straight fight.
Early-Installment Weirdness: For starters, there are a lot less features in this game compared to later ones, to the point where it's a tech demo in comparison. Exposition is delivered in much larger chunks, sometimes awkwardly. Sidequests consist of information gathering in various forms, something that was downplayed or worked into the actual story later in the series.
Elite Mooks: There are various grades of guards, up to the most heavily-armoured ones and the generic Templars, who are identical ability-wise to a full-powered Alta´r.
Enemy Mine: By the end of the game de Sable is trying to initiate such a scenario by turning both King Richard's Crusaders and the Saladin's Saracen forces against the Assassin brotherhood as Alta´r has taken out vital personnel on both sides of the conflict.
Expository Gameplay Limitation: There are several occasions in which Alta´r is having a scripted conversation with another character and the sequences are functionally cutscenes, but the player is still free to walk around the room in question.
Eye Scream: One of the hidden blade counters you can do involves stabbing the unfortunate victim in the eye.
Gaia's Lament: Implied by the emails. One e-mail states that due to the consistency of hurricanes in America, the term "Hurricane Season" became superfluous.
Game-Breaking Bug: The game initially shipped with a doozy of a bug occuring in the Arsuf level on the Xbox 360 version. Halfway through the level the landscape would become a void and Animus glitches would appear as if signifying Desmond desynchronising. If you didn't fall through the level geography to your death at this point you would encounter an Alta´r clone that copies your moves as you make them. Then the cutscene of Alta´r's final confrontation with de Sable would not trigger, leaving the game in a state of limbo as you stand staring at motionless Templars. Needless to say this made the game Unwinnable until it was patched.
Genghis Gambit: After Alta´r murders several prominent Templars on both sides of the conflict, Robert De Sable tries to convince King Richard to form a truce with the Saracens against the threat posed to both by the Assassins. And then later it turns out that this was Al-Mualim's plan all along.
Genius Bruiser: Malik Al'Sayf. He's apparently a cartographer by trade, since you walk in on him at least once while he's drawing a complicated map of Jerusalem. It's a profession that requires a lot of intelligence and a superb memory, but, well, just read the Handicapped Badass entry below.
Genre Savvy: Abstergo knows not to play around with the Piece of Eden that caused the Philadelphia Event, as they might create temporal paradoxes.
Get On With It Already: It takes quite a while before you finally get past the exposition and get to work assassinating people.
Gotta Catch Them All: The game keeps track of all the flags you have collected and the number of generic Templars you kill. However, there is no reward for completing these optional objectives, beyond the usual achievements in the 360 version.
And there are 420 of them. Unmarked. At least the second game gave you a map for treasures and tombs and marked important buildings for secret signs, leaving only 100 feathers.
Gratuitous Foreign Language: Alta´r says "La shaaya waqin moutlaq bale kouloun moumkin" ("Nothing is true, everything is permitted") when he kills Al Mualim at the end without the line being translated. In addition, the guy that voiced Alta´r (in the first game) has an American accent, so even Arabic speakers were left scratching their heads during this scene.
The Guards Must Be Crazy: Guards frequently mistake a very well-armed man in a white robe for a monk. They can also be right next to a haystack and not notice you jumping into it. They will also chase you up a roof, run right past the small roof garden you are hiding in, and never bother to pull back the curtains and see if there's an assassin hiding in there.
Guide Dang It: The game never informs you that it's possible to perform counter-kills with the hidden blade. This wouldn't be a problem, except enemy groups get very large toward the end of the game, making it necessary to thin down their numbers quickly.
Heavily Armored Mook: Guards' armour increases as they get more elite. A useful clue for telling them apart is their headgear; the more elaborate, the more elite.
Highly-Visible Ninja: Alta´r's Le Parkour antics, which often draw observations from the crowd that "he must be insane!" Also, it's VERY easy to forget about the game's supposed stealth-based gameplay and simply run through the city, silencing any alarms that are raised by killing the 3 or 4 guards that end up chasing you. This is especially true since the game itself frequently encourages you to get into highly visible sword fights with groups of guards to prevent them from raping or robbing civilians (saving said civilians being part of achieving 100% Completion). Then again, the other civilians have fled, and you need to hide yourself after.
Historical Villain Upgrade: The main members of the Knights Templar and the Saracens are portrayed as misguided and evil throughout the game. KnightsTemplars such as Sibrand, Garnier de Naplouse, William of Montferrat, and other Templars were made significantly more evil than their Real Life counterparts, who are depicted as chivalrous knights. Even Richard The Lionheart is portrayed as a cynical leader at the end of the game, who cannot comprehend the difference between being driven by vengeance and fighting for peace.
Hollywood Atheist: Sibrand is a pretty egregious example in a world filled with holy warriors and people serene in their death: he's become a paranoid wreck because he doesn't believe in an afterlife. Jubair exhibits lesser tendencies in that he's started a campaign of book-burning because he wants to end a war justified over religion by... indiscriminately destroying all written knowledge.
Identical Grandson: Desmond and his ancestors all look exactly alike, although it's unclear whether they actually are identical or if Desmond is "projecting" his own residual self-image onto them, which would also explain why Alta´r has the only American accent in the Holy Land.
In hindsight, it may be a consequence of the limitations of the more primitive version of the Animus as, when we come back to Alta´r in Revelations, his accent is a more authentic Middle Eastern one.
Knight Templar: Both the Knight Templar themselves and Al-Mualim's group show aspects of this, willing to manipulate and kill for the sake of their own absolute conception of good. Alta´r especially initially shows little qualm in killing anyone related to his targets simply after merely being told that they must die.
The Knights Templar: Ten named Templars, and sixty generic Templars hidden throughout the Holy Land. Then it gets expanded to a huge web of conspirators in the second game. It's implied through the Glyphs that the Assassin-Templar conflict has existed since pre-Biblical times, and has extended through various factions and individuals throughout history.
Kung-Fu Proof Mook: Some of the guards can break free of grabs and block frontal assassination attempts.
Law of 100: There are 100 flags hidden throughout the Kingdom and each of the three cities. Masyaf, being smaller, only has twenty flags.
Limited Wardrobe: Assassins, during the Crusades at least, have a tendency to wear white clothing.
Lampshaded when Desmond checks the closet in his room, and sees nothing but dull jeans and white hoodies.
Lighter and Softer: The real assassins were not protectors of freedom. The only members of the order that did the killing were the ones at the bottom of the hierarchy, and they rarely (if ever) survived their missions. The assassins were hated by both the Christians and the Saracens, and the order only managed to last for as long as it did because both sides recognized their value as mercenaries and contract-killers.
A Lighter Shade of Grey: What's the difference between the Assassins and the Templars? The Assassins don't seek to control others, while the Templars do. However, their goals are similar. Unfortunately such rhetoric is what allows Al Mualim to use Alta´r to clear his path via assassination, proclaiming one whilst practicing the other.
Living Legend: Alta´r begins the game famous only among the Assassins, and then only for his skill. By the end, he's hated and feared by Christians and Saracens alike, but the Assassins have come to love him.
Loading Screen: The voice of the Animus gives you a (not so helpful) gameplay hint while you can take the protagonist through white foggy nothingness, while you wait for the next memory to load.
Loads and Loads of Loading: It takes eleven steps, all of them involving loading or at least thematic pauses, to exit the PC version of the first game. You can, however, use Alt+ F4 with no fear of save-game corruption, so long as the indicator that the game is being saved isn't displayed when you press it.
Losing the Team Spirit: Kill lots of guards quickly. The remainder will flee or fall to their knees and beg for mercy.
Mercy Kill: If you have a quick eye (or can hear incessant pained moaning), you'll notice that sometimes when you've dealt with a guard using the short blade or the sword, they're only mortally wounded and not dead yet (when you see their bodies outlined in white, meaning you can still target them). You can kill the already doomed soldier by walking over to them and stabbing them in the face with the Assassination Blade.
Mook Chivalry: And how. Enemies almost never attack together, which lets you abuse Counter Attacks to no end. Sometimes they do actually attack during counter animations, but Alta´r is invincible during that time which makes the entire attempt pointless. Higher-tier enemies eventually begin to break your guard to prevent you from holding block all the time though. Suddenly subverted in the final confrontation, but counter kills take away most of the edge.
Murder, Inc.: A rare quasi-heroic version appears in the form of the hashashin themselves.
Never Hurt an Innocent: One of the rules of the Hashshashins. Alta´r breaking it is one of the reasons why he's stripped of his rank. You can also kill innocents, but at the cost of Sync. This is, however, averted once you beat the game and replay old memories after the credits roll. Alta´r can kill hordes of innocent people and receive no Sync penalty for doing so.
This gets a lampshade in the second game: at one point Ezio tells a pair of guards that he knows they're just following orders and that he won't hurt them if they back down. Of course, they just laugh at this notion, making them fair game.
New Media Are Evil: In universe example. One of the news reports Desmond can read in the present states that due to advances in video game technology, the film industry has been killed off.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Alta´r uses his Assassin training that allows him to "pierce the illusion" and see the world the way it really is — taught to him by Al Mualim over the course of the story — to pierce the illusion created by the Piece of Eden. And kill Al Mualim.
Ninja: At least, from a certain point of view. The Ninja, the Sulsa (the Korean organizations on which the Ninja were based), and the Assassins all used techniques which originated with strategists and soldiers who fled China in the collapse of the T'ang Dynasty, in the 600s AD. There is very little information about this on the Internet.
Noob Cave: The Damascus Poor District, where you'll always start your assassinations is this; there are no rooftop archers, which makes traversing the area easier, and the guards on the street are the weakest in the game. Also, the Investigation requirements for assassinating Tamir are rather easy; you only need to complete 2 investigation memories, and there's three available Eavesdropping missions, which are very passive and don't require much effort, and no Informer missions. There's also little in the way of obstacles like beggars and madmen to get in your way. Later assassinations will add archers, tougher guards, and cut back on the number of Eavesdropping missions while increasing the number of total investigation memories needed and adding in inconveniently-placed beggars and madmen. You'll come back, though, since the Assassin's Bureau for Damascus is located in the Poor District, but after you assassinate Tamir there's no real reason for you to linger.
No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus: The Templar researcher speculates that the Piece of Eden, along other artifacts like it, was the effector behind such miracles as the Parting of the Red Sea, the success of the Trojan Horse, the miracles surrounding 'the Christ-figure' and the plagues of Egypt, among other things.
Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Alta´r sticks out like a sore thumb with his unquestionably American accent in the middle of a sea of Arabic and English accents. This is hand waved as a side-effect of the Animus. He is, however, pretty much the only one to consistently get the pronunciation of Arabic names and phrases right — which still needs to be hand waved a la Animus, since it's modern Arabic. This is done away with in AC: Bloodlines and Assassin's Creed: Revelations, where Alta´r's thick Arabic accent is a thing of beauty.
NPC Amnesia: Kind of essential for many gamers, think what it would be like if guards actually remembered what you looked like (But in fights they sometimes say "we've fought before"?).
Oh Crap: Quite a few of them littered throughout the game, but the biggest one comes at the very end when Al Mualim uses the Piece of Eden to seemingly resurrect Alta´r's nine assassination targets and sics them on him all at once. Lucky for the player, they're just regular soldiers in the guise of the boss characters and behave as such in combat. Al Mualim himself... not so much.
Your enemies will often be visibly shocked when you kill their comrades — sometimes so much that they flee rather than face you alone.
One-Hit Kill: Counters with the hidden blade, assuming you time it correctly. Other weapons have a wider window of opportunity, but in return the hidden blade's counter attacks are always lethal.
One-Man Army: Alta´r. It is entirely possible to run around the Kingdom and cheerfully slaughter entire enemy camps as well as massacre the equivalent of a few small armies. If the timing of the hidden blade's counter-attack has been mastered, it is also entirely possible for Alta´r to slaughter all of the aforementioned enemies without taking a single scratch.
In fact, when Alta´r gets hit, Desmond gets desynchronized with his memories. In other words, the real Alta´r never got hit!
The whole premise of the game was actually set up to be similar to Ubisoft's Prince of Persia series, with its non-lethal murders.
The Outside World: At age 16, Desmond Miles runs away from his family's hidden Assassin commune. He assumes that his parents are Crazy Survivalist types and that all their warnings about Abstergo Industries' plot to take over the world is nonsense... until he's kidnapped by Abstergo nine years later. This is apparent during the first hour of the game.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Oh, that man wearing all those weapons is praying, he's obviously not an Assassin.
Inverted with one of Alta´r's later targets. After learning of Alta´r's work, he becomes paranoid and publicly kills an actual man of the cloth, proclaiming him to be an Assassin. Of course, Alta´r is in the exact same crowd.
During the last assassination mission, the person you assume to be Robert de Sable is wearing a helmet concealing his face. While not exactly a paper thin disguise, the fact that "Robert" suddenly speaks with a woman's voice is a big hint.
And "Robert's" chest sticks out a little more than is normal for a man—not blatantly obvious as the armor conceals the discrepancy somewhat, but still noticeable.
Precursors: Somewhat subtle, as the Piece of Eden is clearly a piece of high-technology in 1191 AD, and it had to be left by someone, but there is no lip-service to this fact. As well, Vidic says that all technology is the result of the Templars choosing "inventors" through history to pretend to invent them, and they are actually "gifts from those who came before".
When Alta´r activates the Piece of Eden at the end of the game, it brings up a mini-globe, which even includes the yet-undiscovered New World.
Propaganda Machine: The guys in Damascus and Jerusalem that spout the same looping speech over and over again about Saladin fighting the Christian armies, and their enemy counterparts (Richard fighting the Saracens) in Acre. Chances are you will be able to memorize these speeches by the end of the game.
Also, each person you interrogate seems spouts off a speech like this before you start stalking them.
Reverse Grip: Alta´r uses this while blocking with the Short Blade.
Rule of Fun: There were probably not any badass free-running knife-hurling Assassins with a knife for a left ring finger in the twelfth century, but damn, stabbing a guard in the back of the face is fun.
Not to mention using that same nifty switchblade in combat to make it so that you can only kill by countering, which is probably a very bad idea since it looks so delicate. Regardless, Alta´r has no problems puncturing chain mail with it when he's not doing something particularly nasty like stabbing them in the eye.
Sequel Hook: The game abruptly ends with the protagonist discovering that his bedroom is actually a Room Full of Crazy with several plot threads left dangling.
Shout-Out: Interestingly enough, there is a shout out to the original book, Alamut and some of the original anecdotes about the Assassins as a whole. At Masayaf, if one goes out the exit at the rear of the fortress, there is a space that is best known for being the site of the final battle. However, go there before then and the garden in the back of the fortress will be filled with provocatively dressed women wandering about. In addition to this, the very first sequence in the game, when Desmond wakes up in the animus for the first time, (this is even before the tutorial) a brief sequence will feature Desmond as Alta´r wandering about in this space, surrounded closely by the aforementioned women. This combined by the dazed effect caused by the low synchronization rate Desmond has at the beginning of the game are a clear reference to the stories about how the leader of the Assassins would smuggle his chosen people into a secret garden filled with beautiful women and other pleasures while they were drugged, thus giving his followers the impression that he could send them into paradise at will, which is what instills such intense loyalty to the leader of the Assassins. In the novel it is this revelation (rather than the pieces of Eden) that fuels the conflict.
Sinister Surveillance: Desmond's bedroom and bathroom are full of cameras, but you're free to do anything: even take a look at the latest plans of the bad guys. There's a reason for it: it's revealed in later games that the video feed was tampered with.
Soft Water: Or rather Soft Hay; no matter how far it is to the ground when you jump off a building, you won't take any damage at all as long as you land in haystacks. And we do mean any height, like off the very top of the cathedral in Acre, which realistically would render Alta´r a messy stain on the cobblestones.
Spam Attack: One of the Hidden Blade counter animations is a series of slashes to the throat.
Stealth Insult: The Damascus rafiq. "I envy you, Alta´r! Well, not the part where you were beaten and stripped of your rank, but I envy everything else! Oh, except for the terrible things the other Assassins say about you, but yes, aside from the failure and the hatred, yes, aside from those things, I envy you very much!"
Strong Flesh, Weak Steel: Plate-armored knights aren't much more resistant to a bare-handed beating than other less-armored guards.
Due to some apparent level of sadism in the works of the Ubisoft team, one of the main assassinations takes place in the port of Acre, with the player forced to negotiate his way to the target over water on conveniently placed strings of poles, small boats, and narrow docks rampant with jumpy guard patrols and drunken sailors who find Alta´r to just look so very pushable. For the average gamer, the whole segment is an endurance test, due to the horrendous number of times a minor miscalculation will send a skilled Master Assassin leaping not safely to the next foothold, but flailing like a loon into instant death. At the end of the day, being able to laugh this off as a complete and utter failure on the part of the otherwise badass Master Assassin might actually make the player feel marginally better about the whole ordeal.
Note to players at this point in the game: go right.
Take That: From the manual for the console version:
Vidic:When we switched the Animus control scheme to use standard video-game controls I guessed that the subject's learning curve would improve, but the increased acclimatization rate we are seeing with these slacker types is astounding.
In addition, it's mentioned in the Crapsack World e-mails that the film industry is dead... partially because of video games. Y'know, like the game you are playing instead of watching a movie.
Talking Is a Free Action: Every target in the game talks at length with Alta´r while dying and surrounded by either guards of civilians. It's handwaved away as a glitch that doesn't match up the simulation to the conversation after — especially when one of the targets freely walks around to taunt Alta´r before dying, not to mention how Alta´r takes "Robert" down and lets "him" go when he sees Maria.
The War Sequence: On the road to Arsuf you will be assaulted by waves after waves of Saracens and Crusaders. Unlike other encounters, these are not skippable and everyone must be killed before you can proceed. The last segment involves fighting ten Templars at once.
Timed Mission: During investigation into a target, Alta´r can talk to Informers, who will ask Alta´r to either collect flags or kill certain guards within a time limit. Setting off an alert cancels the mission until you recover anonymity and talk to the Informer again.
Torture First, Ask Questions Later: If you want to interrogate someone, you have to beat them up first. You don't even have the option of asking first. It's not like it matters since all Interrogation objectives end with a shanking anyway, regardless of the intent of the individual sharing the information. Even if Alta´r just asked politely and they gave an honest answer he has to neutralize the informant afterwards to protect his overall mission.
Video Game Caring Potential: Saving random citizens always feels rewarding, though by the end of the game you can usually recite their thank you speeches by heart. Also, if you hang around the vigilantes they say nice things about you, and in some assassinations they even obstruct your target from leaving! There's just something so satisfying of being on the receiving end of civilian AI interference for a change.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: Some of Alta´r's combo kills and counters are squickworthy in their efficient brutality. Especially the Assassin blade counter kills. You'll wince at some of them. And if you'll notice, so will some of the guards who saw it. Several short-blade counter kills include throat slits complete with blood-gurgling sounds, and subduing victims before Alta´r brutally stabs the guy right in his skull using two hands; accompanied by a particularly... crunchy sound.
When you're replaying missions after beating the game, chances are you're stealth-killing every beggar woman who approaches you, right in the middle of their pleas for coin because they're sick and starving. Well, now they'll never be hungry or sick again. Or the flailing lepers who trip you up for daring to come within arm's reach of them; shanking those buggers is truly a cathartic feeling.
For some reason, the game allows you to kill Assassins in Masyaf with no penalty, which defies the third tenet of the Creed: to not harm an Assassin.
Even before you beat the game, there are no real negative consequences for playing Civilian Skittles on horseback.
If you're feeling particularly sadistic, you can stab a civilian you just saved. Do it fast enough and you can even earn back the lost sync when the game gives you the sync for successfully saving the civilian in the first place.
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Killing civilians costs Synchronization. Killing three within a short time automatically desynchronizes you, even if you still have Synch to spare. Once you beat the game, though, feel free to shank away — the penalties are gone.
Video Game Geography: Acre, Damascus, Jerusalem, and Arsuf are all within five minutes' ride of each other. Justified though since the Animus cuts together relevant memories and eventless riding of 200km is not seen as such. And we all know what Crusades do to the traffic.
Video Game Historical Revisionism: The nine marks died or disappeared around 1191, but the game posits that the Templars rewrote the history books to cover up the game's plot.
This is specifically noted in-game when Desmond notes that some things seem off or historically incorrect. Further lampshaded by Vidic, saying that people can write down whatever they please, but the Animus shows the real story.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Some of Alta´r's assassination targets could be considered this. Even Alta´r himself said that while they may have had pure reasons for what they were doing, they were going about it the wrong way.
Alta´r can also qualify as this, using brutal executions and combat to promote peace.
A Wizard Did It: Notice a Plot Hole? Historical inaccuracy? Any gameplay element that just doesn't make sense? The Animus did it!
The historical inaccuracies part is lampshaded in the first game. The explanation for this, however, is that the Templars covered up the truth, with Vidic telling Desmond that he shouldn't trust books.