A sublime moment in Assassin’s Creed II

Spoilers below.
The Ass Creed games have progressively transformed themselves from inventive platformer adventures into tedious shopping list/micro-management slogs, in which blinking icons on the map distract from any semblance of immersion or narrative coherence.

It wasn’t always this way, though. The first game lacked direction but established a movement structure that was entirely new, while immersing the player in a period setting of unprecedented visual fidelity. The second took that foundation and built a game around it, wrapped in a silly but engaging story.

It’s a fantastic romp and the particular moment I remember with absolute clarity occurs right at the end, when you’re confronted by a oracle style character. During the exposition heavy scene, presented in cinematic third person like the rest of the game, the Oracle suddenly, unexpectedly, turns from addressing the player character, Ezio, to look directly into the camera, and address the player, gazing right through the screen.

It’s a bravura moment of fourth-wall breaking and a clever comment on the game’s central control system and presentation. It hints at all sorts of intriguing story ideas and left me hugely excited for the first ext installment.

Unfortunately that next game introduced tedious bloat, suffocating the fun story beneath a load of irrelevance. But that moment at the end of AC2 remains one of my top game moments.


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