I know that I'm getting the Ezio Collection on PS4 (annoyingly cheaper on Amazon than usual) for Christmas tomorrow because my Wife has enjoyed playing Unity, Syndicate, and Origins with me so much that she wants to go back and see how the series got started.
But wait! Could this be the opportunity I've been waiting for to actually trudge through the very first Assassin's Creed?! My wife said it made the most sense to her to start at the beginning, so we're doing it!
I realized Graev had a copy of the Xbox 360 version of Assassin's Creed ($9 on Amazon) laying around so I snagged it and popped it into my Xbox One.
Lo and behold it's a backwards compatibility game! A quick 3 gig patch and I was playing the original Assassin's Creed on my Xbox One.
Graev looked at me like I was absolutely out of my mind.
He thinks it's absolutely archaic (sorta is) and plays nothing like the Ezio or newer versions (and it sorta doesn't). But I persisted, and I'm sorta glad I did.
It's all true. The original is clunkier. Combat is much more calculated. In fact, the entire game moves at a fraction of the pace. Climbing is slower and more thought out as you figure out where you can climb. Fighting is about countering and timing your button presses correctly.
Avoiding detection is very realistic. Behaving in socially unacceptable ways will get the guards to notice you. People will notice you and report you to the guards. Running is frowned upon. Your horse moving at more than a slow trot will get you in trouble.
Citizens in the towns will confront you and harass you. Bump someone carrying a pot? Yep, that's bad. Even wading through a crowd requires a button press. Poorly navigating crows will even cause you to trip and fall.
Something I noticed right away -- X is basically your left hand and B is your right hand. So you have a "overt hand" and a "subtle hand" which correlate with L and R triggers to open up overt or covert abilities.
It's all way more convoluted and complicated.
Despite being complicated and clunky, there's a charm here that the newer games have lost. Newer Assassin's Creeed games have gotten away from the subtle assassin and calculated art of navigation and cunning in favor of showier combat and grandiose abilities.
It's really quite indicative of gaming in general these days, and entirely too familiar in practically every genre of game today.
Despite its poor quality-of-life mechanics, I really encourage you to play the original Assassin's Creed. The story is good -- if you're into the AC story like I am. I like the "real world" stuff.
The gameplay will make you appreciate the QOL improvements to newer entries to the franchise, and regret the loss of some of what made the series great to begin with. Overall, a fine game to go back and play.
P.S. For $9 you won't have to feel bad skipping the monotonous collectibles or investigations if that's not your thing. We just went straight for the main story missions, doing the bare minimum, and it's still 15-20 hours of gameplay.