Taking a critical look at the Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection in 2022 is a bit like trying to review Ocarina of Time from a modern perspective. This may sound like hyperbole, but I mean it. Assassin’s Creed II and its two sequels cemented Assassin’s Creed as an iconic franchise. They fearlessly address every criticism levied at the original. They helped to usher in a new era of cinematic storytelling in games. Most importantly, across the entire trilogy they took the player on a journey through the entire life of a single character. Over three games and around 70 hours, we experience every victory, loss, gain, and defeat in Ezio’s life. It remains incredibly effective to this day. That being said, much like reviewing Ocarina of Time in 2022, if we’re perfectly honest, there is plenty about this trilogy that shows its age. But at the end of the day, it is still hard not to be impressed by what was accomplished.
The Switch release of The Ezio Collection is the first time Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, or Assassin’s Creed Revelations have been released on a Nintendo console. These games collectively represent the second act of the original Assassin’s Creed story arc that began in the original game and concluded in Assassin’s Creed III. While Assassin’s Creed III is already available on Switch, the original game is not, so new players will want to pay close attention to the recap at the beginning of Assassin’s Creed II.
You play as Desmond Miles, who is reliving the genetic memories of his ancestor, Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Starting during the late 15th century, Ezio is thrown into an ancient conflict between Assassins and Templars after his father and brothers are murdered by Templar agents. As Ezio takes on the mantle of Assassin himself, he’ll ultimately work to unravel a sprawling mystery with implications on the modern world in which Desmond resides. The expansive story across the three games is excellently orchestrated and a few of the story beats I’d forgotten since originally playing through them managed to catch me off guard a second time.
Like most of the Assassin’s Creed series prior to the soft reboot in Assassin’s Creed Origins, The Ezio Collection places a strong focus on climbing around sprawling cities, hunting down targets, and then escaping back into anonymity. The moment-to-moment gameplay loop is still strong, though elements of the climbing mechanic do feel dated by modern standards. Ezio can only climb on specific predetermined points along a structure. The distance he can traverse between these points never feels particularly consistent either. As a result, you’ll often find yourself reaching for a ledge that is apparently just out of reach, while ignoring one you’d swear is even farther away. Somewhat unique to this particular trilogy are dungeon-like sub areas, city building elements, and tower defense segments. Each entry adds its own unique side mechanics, but all play into a theme of keeping the action from becoming too repetitive, and they largely succeed in this goal. Even playing the three games back-to-back, it is surprising how fresh each one feels. The third title, Assassin’s Creed Revelations in particular, has a significantly different tone from the first two games, while still feeling like a cohesive part of the story. It could be argued that Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, on the other hand, feels like a very direct continuation of Assassin’s Creed II. However, enough unique elements exist to keep it largely separated even if presentationally and tonally the two are extremely similar.
It is in fact the presentation in which The Ezio Collection most clearly shows its age. While 2011’s Assassin’s Creed Revelations holds up surprisingly well more than a decade on, the same cannot really be said for Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, both of which feature some pretty rough character models, materials, and facial animation. Assassin’s Creed II looked fine in 2009, but in a modern context its attempt to create realistic characters leaves a lot to be desired. The Switch port unfortunately doesn’t do a whole lot to alleviate this.
The Switch release is a port of the recent Xbox One and Playstation 4 versions of The Ezio Collection which received a variety of visual updates. These included improved draw distances, rendering resolution, texture resolution, changes to post processing effects, and more. The changes gave the games a somewhat different look from their original releases while maintaining all the original geometry. On Switch several effects have been paired back in favor of preserving others. Improved texture resolution, and changes to lighting remain but effects like ambient occlusion, which were present in the original releases, are seemingly entirely removed. The results in a game that doesn’t necessarily look better or worse than the original, but almost always looks significantly different.
That being said, performance itself is a mostly consistent improvement across the board. Frame rates are significantly more stable than the original release, and loading times are a fraction of what they once were. V-sync has also been turned on meaning no more screen tearing as was extremely common in the original. Instead, all three games now make use of dynamic resolution. The first two games pretty consistently turn in a near 1080p resolution docked and native 720p when played handheld. Assassin’s Creed Revelations, which is significantly more visually demanding, still turns in solid resolutions docked, but can drop quite low in handheld mode. All three games tend to exhibit a perceptible resolution jitter during cutscenes, though in some cases I believe this is due to a low-resolution post processing effect that is affecting the perceived resolution. This may be tied to a depth of field effect or something similar. All in all, though the general impression is that image quality and performance are an improvement over the original releases, even if the visuals being rendered are a bit more up to player preference.
Having The Ezio Collection together in a single package like this is the ideal way to experience these games. These are incredible games that, while showing their age, remain a joy to experience. There are absolutely weaker moments that feel a bit repetitive, but there are also plenty of reminders as to why these games are so highly revered. Assassin’s Creed Revelations in particular is easily one of the best entries in the entire series. This Switch release certainly has some drawbacks, and it’s arguable that a straight port of the original games at a higher resolution might have yielded better results than this down-port of the remasters, but the net result remains positive. Performance is overall a significant improvement over the original releases and still a superior way to play. It’s unfortunate that Ubisoft has decided to work their way backwards through the original Assassin’s Creed story arc with their Switch releases, but even if you haven’t played the original, this trilogy holds up incredibly on its own.
Source link : Nintendoworldreport