WARNING: THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE IS ONE HUMONGOUS SPOILER. IF YOU HAVEN’T PLAYED ANY OF THE FOUR ASSASSIN’S CREED GAMES AND DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE ENITRE PLOT LINE, INCLUDING THE ENDINGS OF EACH GAME, THEN THIS ARTICLE IS NOT FOR YOU. PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the Assassin’s Creed story. Filled with twists and turns, good guys gone bad, and a whole lot of mystery, the plot behind Desmond Miles discovering his true destiny has captivated audiences since the first game of the series came out in 2007. Two of the story’s main protagonists, assassin’s named Altair Ibn-La’Ahad and Ezio Auditore da Firenze have even become icons in the gaming world on the level of Master Chief from Halo, or dare I say, Gordon Freeman from Half-Life.
Assassin’s Creed has become much more than just a successful IP. Considering the series is four games deep, and each game has a whole lot of Animus based time-travel, the rich plot line starts to become a task to follow. By the time Revelations came out, I think it’s safe to say a lot of people really forgot exactly what they did in the first game that started Desmond’s quest for the truth.
Now, It’s already time for Assassin’ Creed III. Though it may be titled as the third game in the series, it’s actually the fifth (not counting PSP games). Anyone who’s watched cable in the past month has seen an ad for the game. Personally, every time I see it, I can’t help but think, “How the hell are they going to tie the American Revolution into what’s gone on in the past four games?”
Assassin’s Creed III is supposed to be a direct sequel to Revelations and complete the entire tale of Desmond Miles, so I thought it would be worth while to sum up the entire story up until now. Sit back, relax, and relive the stealthy, stabby glory of Desmond’s journey.
ASSASSIN’S CREED (Nov. 14, 2007)
Desmond Miles, is just your ordinary bartender, or so he thought. A giant company called Abstergo Industries kidnaps Desmond to use him as a test subject. This is where we are first introduced to the Animus, a machine that can simulate the recall of ancestral memories. As Warren Vidic, the overseer of Desmond’s Animus testing, says, human DNA stores memories of our ancestors. The Animus can access these stored memories and cause the person in the device to relive them. Why do they need Desmond? What memories could a bartender have locked away? He is actually a part of a long line of assassin’s belonging to a brotherhood battling the Templars. As the Animus fires up and Desmond adjusts, he enters the memory of Altair Ibn-La’Ahad, his ancestor from 1191 who is currently a part of the Third Crusade in the Holy Land (which I assume is Israel or Palestine).
Altair first appears as he is trying to retrieve one of a series of artifacts called the “Pieces of Eden” from Solomon’s Temple. However, he is stopped by the grandmaster of the Templars, Robert de Sable. Altair trys to kill Robert, but breaks the three main tenants of the Brotherhood. “Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent,” “Hide in plain sight,” and “Do not compromise the Brotherhood.” In the resulting disaster, his partner Malik’s brother gets killed. Altair is forced to escape, and when he returns to camp he finds Malik there with the artifact he thought he lost.
The Brotherhood stands strong against a retaliation attack from the Templars, but Altair gets demoted back to square one for disregard of the rules. Al Mualim, the leader of the Assassin’s, decides to let Altair try to rise back up through the ranks. He assigns Altair the duty of assassinating nine tyrannical key figures in Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus with the aim of ending the crusade.
As Altair completes each assassination, he learns how each of the targets was connected to Robert and of the Templars plans to end the crusade and place the Holy Lands completely under their control. Soon it becomes obvious that Robert actually intends to unite Christian and Muslim against the Assassin’s themselves. Altair defeats Robert. From Robert, he discovers that Al Mualim, the leader of the Brotherhood, is actually a member of the Templars.
Altair learns the truth from Al Mualim when he returns to Masyaf to get his vengance. The Piece of Eden is able to create illusions, and Al Mualim denounces all religion and supernatural events saying the Piece of Eden caused them all. His intention is to brainwash mankind to bring an end to the conflict. After Altair does what he can to see through the illusions and kill Al Mualim, he recovers and activates the Piece of Eden. A globe appears showing all the locations of the other pieces.
When all of this is done Desmond comes out of the Animus to learn that Abstergo is a modern-day front for the Templars, and they were using his memories to find the locations of the Pieces of Eden. Desmond was to be killed after Abstergo was done with him, but he survives. He remains trapped in the lab, but begins to see odd messages on the floor and walls including several references to the end of the world. The game ends with Desmond confused by all these images.
Lucy Stillman, the research assistant from the first game, arrives covered in blood and frees Desmond from the cryptic room he has been trapped in. It’s time for Desmond to go back into the Animus, and this time he sees the birth of Ezio Auditore de Firenze. Lucy makes copies of the files inside the machine and the two escape to a warehouse with its own version of the Animus.
To continue the search for the remaining Pieces of Eden, Desmond has to get back into the Animus and relive the memories of Ezio before Abstergo can locate them. Lucy tells Desmond the numbers of assassins is dwindling, and that he must learn to become one by using his ability to see messages and absorbing Ezios abilities while in the Animus.
Ezio discovers his family was betrayed by a close friend during a political uprising. Ultimately, he was not able to save his father and three brothers, and all three are falsely accused of treason and executed. Ezio has to flee with his mother and sister to his uncle Mario’s in the countryside. Mario provides Ezio with information and leads on the conspirators involved with his family’s demise and begins to train him in the art of becoming and assassin. Ezio’s quest stretches from Florence to Venice, and eventually the Vatican as he pursues vengeance.
Ezio befriends many people along his journey that aid him in his quest for revenge, including a young Leonardo da Vinci. As he begins to slowly locate and kill off the conspirators involved, he is able to indentify Rodrigo Borgia as the mastermind behind his family’s demise. Rodrigo Borgia’s main goal is to bring down the Medici family and take over parts of Italy. After Ezio tracks Rodrigo to Venice he discovers that the villan has the Piece of Eden known as the “Apple,” which was similar to the one Altair had in the first game. Rodrigo actually believes he is a prophet and will lead the Templars to “The Valut,” which is believed to contain earth-shattering information and other Pieces of Eden.
As Ezio duels with Rodrigo, his allies from over the years show up and help him defeat Rodrigo, who flees leaving the “Apple” behind. All of Ezio’s allies reveal that they are all part of the Brotherhood and induct him into the Order. They also reveal that they think Ezio is the actual prophet and that he will lead the Assassin’s to the Vault.
Desmond takes a break from the animus, and gets tested by Lucy to see if he has learned anything. He is able to demonstrate all of Ezios skills with ease. By spending time as Ezio, Desmond finds glyphs on certain landmarks that are only visable to someone using the Animus. After locating and solving all 20 glyphs, a video is revealed. The video shows a man and a woman (who call themselves Adam and Eve) running through a futuristic world. They pass through an area where people are building other Pieces of Eden. Eve holds up the “Apple” and the video ends in a flurry of binary code. Desmond decides it’s time to go back into the Animus.
The memories are corrupted and they begin years after Desmond and Rodrigo’s fight. They restart in 1499 when Rodrigo has ultimately become Pope Alexander VI. Ezio and his allies have finally collected all 30 pages of a codex that reveals the vault is in Rome under the Vatican. They also realize the Papal Staff is really a Piece of Eden that Rodrigo hopes to use to get into the vault.
Ezio faces off with Rodrigo, who uses the staff against him. He retaliates by using the “Apple” but is stabbed, giving Rodrigo the opportunity flee. Ezio finds him trying to open the vault. The two fight again, and Ezio wins, but does not kill him. The “Apple” and the staff open the vault, and Ezio finds a holographic figure calling itself Minerva. She claims that Ezio has been brought to her so that Desmond and his allies would ultimately hear her words through the Animus.
She explains that she was a part of an advanced society that settled Earth right before a huge natural disaster. Her race rebuilt Earth the best they could and created mankind in their image. Both races lived side by side, but were forced to war. The humans seem to have forced the ancient ones to seal themselves in temples around the world with the hope of preventing the same kind of disaster they experienced.
Desmond wakes up in the present to find Absetrgo has located and started to attack their warehouse hideout. Desmond gets a hidden blade from Lucy and kills his way to freedom as he sees Warren Vidic in the back of a truck, who mocks him. The group leaves the hideout and heads to a northern cabin to review the tapes of Desmond’s sessions. Lucy theorizes Minerva was talking about a geomagnetic reversal, and Desmond re-enters the Animus hoping to discover more from his memories.
The third game picks up right where the second left off. Desmond attempts to relive one of the later memories of Ezio in the hopes of it showing the location of his ancestor’s Apple of Eden, which could help them prevent the disaster Minerva spoke of. Desmond doesn’t get sent into the memory he wants, but instead ends up in 1506 during a battle in Viana. As Ezio recalls similar events Desmond gets pushed back even further to 1499.
Ezio left the valut after talking with Minerva and finds out that Rodrigo is gone but the Papal Staff has been left behind. He tries to pull it from where it had been firmly planted but it descends into the floor and is sealed away. His uncle Mario helps him fight his way out of the Vatican, and Ezio gives his uncle the “Apple” for safe keeping. Ezio soon learns that Cesare Borgia, the son of Rodrigo has begun a siege on Monteriggioni, and will eventually leave the city in ruin. Ezio is wounded in the battle and Cesare kills his uncle. He tries to follow his uncle’s killer but passes out.
Desmond wakes up out of the animus in the back of the Assassin’s van. They have arrived at Villa Auditore in modern day Monteriggioni. Lucy explains the need to recovers Ezio’s Apple of Eden because she thinks Minerva changed it when she touched it in the vault earlier. They discover a secret passage that Ezio and the citizens used to flee the Borgia attack, and make their way to the sanctuary below the villa.
When they get to the sanctuary, Desmond has visions of an old Ezio and concludes he must have returned years after the attack. Desmond returns to Ezio’s memories in hopes of finding the location of his “Apple.” Ezio wakes up in a house in Rome. A woman is tending to him and tells him that man had brought him there and supplied him with new armor and clothing. He leaves to meet Niccolo Machiavelli and discovers Borgia is oppressing the citizens of Rome. Ezio begins his mission to rid Rome of Cesare Borgia through re-establishing partnerships between the Assassins and other guilds of the city. He also begins to rebuild the Brotherhood by recruiting apprentices. When they finish their training, he sends them on missions across Europe in teams.
Ezio begins to break down the Borgia influence by assassinating two of Cesare’s key generals, his banker, and the French General Octavian de Valois, while destroying da Vinci’s war machines. Ezio then tails Micheletto Corella, Cesare’s personal assassin, who is sent to kill an actor. Ezio hopes to get the key to Castel Sant’Angelo, and after saving the actor, he does just that.
Ezio infiltrates the castle and witnesses Cesare kill Rodrigo, his own father. Cesare has discovered the location of the Apple of Eden, and heads to the Basilica di San Pietro to get it. Ezio gets there before him and uses it to disband Cesare’s forces. Cesare gets arrested by order of the new Pope, but claims he won’t be in chains for long and won’t be killed by any man.
Then, Ezio talks with da Vinci sometime later and decides to use the “Apple” to see the truths behind Cesare’s claim. He discovers that his enemy will really get released from prison. In 1507, Ezio finally tracks Cesare at the siege of Viana, Spain. He fights through the soliders and then manages to defeat Cesare. Ezio leaves him to the hands of fate and tosses him from the battlements to his death. He then takes the “Apple” into a Vault under the Santa Maria Aracoeli in the Temple of Juno.
Desmond wakes from the Animus to find his team trying to get into the Vault. Desmond soon realized the same symbol he saw on the Vault door was drawn on the villa’s wall. The team discovers the password to be 72, referring to the 72 names of God. Desmond tries to find a way into the Vault and encounters another holograph of one of Those Who Came Before named Juno. Juno speaks about the downfall of mankind.
Eventually Desmond unlocks the door for his team, but soon follows a memory of Ezio he sees. This leads to him activating a system of bars and levers causing the floor to lower into the vault. Desmond says the password and the door opens to reveal a large empty room with a tall platform in the middle where the “Apple” sits. After Desmond makes his way to the “Apple” he touches it causing time to stop and a series of holographic symbols to appear. He finds himself under the control of Juno, who forces him to draw his hidden blade and stab Lucy right in the stomach.
Later we see that Desmond has entered a coma, but gets placed back in the Animus again despite the damage the machine has done.
Desmond remains in a coma from the events of the previous games. The Assassins believe that putting him in an unspecialized safe area of the Animus, called the Black Room, would save his mind. Here Desmond meets Subject 16, the person leaving behind all these cryptic messages and glyphs. 16 explains that the only way for Desmond to separate himself from his ancestors is to continue to play out their stories until there was nothing left to show. Once he reached that point he would be able to separate the three’s individual memories.
Desmond enters the Black Room’s memory corridor, which puts him back in the role of Ezio who had traveled to Masyaf to try to discover the secrets Altair had previously found as well as his role in the battle between the Templars and Assassin’s. He finds the hideout taken over by Templars who capture him and plan his execution.
Ezio escapes to the lower levels of the fortress where he finds the entrance to Altair’s library and learns that five keys are needed to unlock the door. The Templars have the first, and Niccolo Polo’s journal would show him where the rest were. Ezio recovers the journal from a Templar captain, Leandros. Soon, he learns the remaining keys wait for him in Constantinople. When he gets there he recovers an encoded map from the Yerebatan Cistern to lead him to the keys and learns that each key is encoded with Altair’s memories. This allows Ezio to relive key moments in Altair’s life.
Ezio witnesses Altair’s life two years before the events of Solomon’s temple during an attack on Masyaf. Al Mualim is captured, but Altair arrives in time to save him. Ezio emerges from the memory and sets out to track down the remaining keys.
The second key shows what happened after Altair killed Al Mualim. Altair, now the owner of the “Apple”, takes control of the Assassin’s guild. Abbas, convinced Altair is lying and just wants more power at any cost, steals the apple from Al Mualim’s study. The Apple ends up being too much for him to control and he begins to die from the wealth of power of the device. Altair deactivates the Apple in time and saves Abbas.
The third key shows Altair returning to Masyaf with his wife after ten years of trying to repell the Mongol invasion to learn Abbas is trying to seize power and execute their youngest son. It’s soon revealed that one of Abbas’ supporters killed Altair’s son. In a fit of rage, Altair uses the “Apple” to make Swami cut his own throat, but his wife tries to stop him. Swami ends up stabbing Altair’s wife right before he dies and Altair is forced to flee with his oldest son.
The fourth key shows Altair finally returning to Masyaf, which has been under the rule of Abbas for 20 years. The Assassin’s are weaker than ever from Abbas’ paranoia and craziness. Altair manages to convince the Assassin’s to turn against their crazy leader and kill his captains. He soon kills Abbas and takes his place as the rightful leader of the Assassins.
The fifth key shows Altair as the mentor of the Levantine Assassins. We see him encode the keys with his memories and entrust them to Niccolo Polo and his brother with the instructions to hide them. Meanwhile, there is total chaos in Constantinople because of a conflict between two princes for the Sultante. It is suspected the Templars are behind this feud. Ezio investigates the situation and uncovers evidence that Manuel Palaiologos was attempting to re-establish the Byzantine Empire by overthrowing the Ottomans with Templar help and Janissary Captain Tarik Barleti’s supply of weapons. Ezio kills Tarik, and as he dies, he reveals the Templars are based out in Cappadocia. He takes it upon himself to destroy the entire supply of weapons with a bomb. Soon, after he finds the final key, he discovers one of the princes, Ahmet, was the true mastermind behind the Templars plot to discover Altair’s secret library. He rushes back to Constantinople.
Back in the Animus, the entire Black Rooms starts to break down and the Animus starts deleting unnecessary data. Subject 16 saves Desmond from being deleted by pushing him through the memory portal.
Ezio and the Assassins assault the place where Ahmet had fled to with his forces. Ahment has Ezio’s partner Sophia as a hostage and trades the keys for her. He chases down Ahment and recovers the keys after he knows Sophia is safe. Ezio and Sophia return to Masyaf where Ezio uses the keys to unlock Altair’s library under the castle. Ezio finds the library empty except for the skeleton of Altair holding the sixth key. Ezio takes it and relives another memory.
This time he sees Altair sending his son away and sealing himself in the library with the “Apple” so it could be discovered by the proper person. Ezio leaves the apple in the library with his blades and sword and starts to speak directly to Desmond about his intention to retire from the life of an assassin.
Desmond is then approached by Jupiter, another holograph of a member of the First Civilization. He explains to Desmond that the First Civilization built many vaults underground that would independently study various ways to save Earth from destruction with all information being sent to a main vault where he and Minerva tested them. None of them were effective to stop the solar flare that destroyed the Earth. Jupiter continues to tell Desmond he has the power to save the Earth from a second solar flare and shows him the location of the central vault.
Desmond wakes from the Animus to see his father standing over him. His team managed to smuggle him out of Rome and had taken him to America. Desmond’s arm now starts to glow blue when he sees Ezios’s Apple of Eden, and he tells his team he knows exactly what they had to do.
Will Assassin’s Creed 3 live up to the hype? Hard to say. There’s been quite a tangled web of revenge, assassins assassinating other assassins, and fancy technology from a long lost civilization. Either way, Assassin’s Creed 3 arrives tomorrow and takes the battle to Boston. What could possibly go wrong?