Assassin's Creed is a third person action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released worldwide in November 2007 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and April 2008 for PCs. The game centers on the use of a machine named the "Animus", which allows the viewing of the protagonist's genetic memories of his ancestors.
Through this plot device, details emerge of a struggle between two factions, the Knights Templar and the Assassins, over an artifact known as a "Piece of Eden" and the game primarily takes place during the Third Crusade in the Holy Land in 1191. The game received generally positive reviews, and won several awards at E3 in 2006. A sequel, Assassin's Creed II, was released in November 2009.
In September 2012, bartender Desmond Miles is kidnapped by Abstergo Industries, a pharmaceutical company, for use as a test subject in the Animus, a device that can read the memories of Desmond's ancestors through the "genetic memory" left behind in their descendants' DNA, then allow Desmond to simulate the experiences of his ancestors in a virtual reality environment. Abstergo intends to put Desmond in the device to simulate the memories of a particular ancestor, Altaïr ibn La-Ahad,(Altair meaning The Bird) a member of a clan of Assassins, specifically Altaïr's experiences during the year 1191 AD as part of the Third Crusade in the Holy Land. Desmond has trouble adjusting to the device, but eventually relives Altaïr's exploits over the next several days. The game then primarily takes Altaïr's point of view, with occasional swaps to Desmond when he exits the Animus.
Altaïr is first shown attempting to retrieve an artifact known as the "Piece of Eden" from Solomon's Temple with the help of other Assassins, but is stopped by Robert de Sablé, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, the sworn enemies of the Assassins. While retrieving the treasure, Altaïr breaks all three tenets of the Assassin's Creed ("Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent," "Hide in plain sight" and "Do not compromise the Brotherhood") within the opening minutes of gameplay, to attempt to kill de Sablé, but fails. Upon returning to the Assassins' stronghold at Masyaf and after narrowly defeating a retaliatory attack by the Templars, Al Mualim, leader of the Assassins, demotes Altaïr to an initiate but gives him another chance to rise through the ranks of the Brotherhood. Al Mualim assigns Altaïr the task of assassinating nine key figures across the Holy Land in Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus, to attempt to bring peace between the Crusader and Saracen forces. Each target is based on real historical figures from around 1191, including Majd Addin (Regent of Jerusalem), Garnier de Nablus (Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller), Jubair al Hakim (an eminent scholar in Damascus), Abu'l Nuqoud (the wealthiest man in Damascus), Grand Master Sibrand of the Teutonic Order and William V, Marquess of Montferrat (Regent of Acre).
Altaïr completes each task, learning how each target is connected to Robert and the Templars, and how together they aim to use the Piece of Eden (which is actually only one of many) to enslave the minds of the population of the Holy Land, bringing "peace" to the land under their rule and robbing the people of free will. With important and powerful men on both sides killed, he discovers that de Sablé's last ploy is to attempt to unite Crusader and Saracen against their new-common enemy: the Assassins themselves. Altaïr pursues de Sablé to Arsuf and defeats him in trial by combat before Richard the Lionheart, convincing the king of de Sable's treason but not that an end to the war would be welcomed by both sides. With his dying breath, de Sablé reveals that Al Mualim is himself a Templar, and used Altaïr to kill the other members so he could keep the treasure for himself. Altaïr quickly returns to Masyaf to accost his master, who reveals the truth: the Piece of Eden which he had received from one of the men in the Temple after Altaïr's transgression creates illusions. He denounces religion and other seemingly supernatural events (e.g. the parting of the Red Sea, the Ten Plagues of Egypt, Jesus turning water to wine and the presence of the Greek Gods in the Trojan War) as illusions caused by it, then states his intention to use the artifact to compel mankind into a brainwashed state and so bring an end to all conflict. Altaïr is eventually able to see through deceptions created by the artifact to kill Al Mualim. When Altaïr recovers the artifact, the Piece of Eden activates, showing a holographic view of the world with numerous locations of other Pieces of Eden marked across the globe.
In between sessions in the Animus, Desmond learns from a friendly technician named Lucy Stillman that Abstergo Industries is a modern-day version of the Knights Templar, and are now seeking other artifacts at locations identified in Altaïr's memory. Just before the final session, modern-day Assassins had tried to rescue Desmond before the process was complete but had failed. Desmond was to be killed after completion, but Lucy saves him from death. Though Desmond remains trapped in the Abstergo laboratory, his experience in the Animus has created a "bleeding effect" of Altaïr's life into his own. This grants Desmond the use of Altaïr's "Eagle Vision" ability, which enables him to identify friendly and hostile individuals. Through this ability, Desmond learns that Lucy is his ally, along with her showing him a bent-down ring finger in the same way that the Assassins severed their ring fingers in allegiance to the Assassin Order. This ability also allows him to see strange, otherwise invisible messages painted in blood on the floors and walls of the laboratory and his room. The messages all deal with various forms of the end of the world from different cultures, including several references to the date December 21, 2012, the date that Abstergo plans to launch a satellite that will "permanently end the war". It is hinted that this will be by the same method that Al Mualim hypnotized Masyaf, only on a larger scale. The game ends with Desmond wondering what these images all mean and who could have drawn them.
The character of Al Mualim and his clan are based on an Islamic sect known as the Order of the Hashshashin from which the term assassin originates. The Assassins follow a strict code of honor called the "Assassin's Creed", which consists of three basic rules: 1) Do not harm the innocent; 2) Be discreet; and 3) Do not compromise the Brotherhood. They also follow the famous rule of Hashshashin founder Hassan-i Sabbah: "Nothing is true; everything is permitted".
Assassin's Creed is an action-adventure video game in which the player primarily assumes the role of Altaïr as experienced by Desmond Miles. The primary goal of the game is to carry out a series of assassinations ordered by Al Mualim, the leader of the Assassins. To achieve this goal, the player must travel from the Brotherhood's headquarters in Masyaf, across the terrain of the Holy Land known as the Kingdom to one of three cities, Jerusalem, Acre, or Damascus, to find the Brotherhood agent in that city. There, the agent, in addition to providing a safe house, gives the player minimal knowledge about the target, and requires them to perform additional intelligence gathering missions before attempting the assassination. These missions include eavesdropping, interrogation, pickpocketing and completing tasks for informers and fellow assassins. Additionally, the player may take part in any number of side objectives in these open world environments, including climbing tall towers to map out the city, and saving citizens who are being threatened or harassed by the city guards. There are also various side quests that do not advance the plot such as hunting down and killing Templars and flag collecting. After completing each set of assassinations, the player is returned back to the Brotherhood and rewarded with a better weapon and then given another set of targets, with the player free to select the order of their targets.
The player is made aware of how noticeable Altaïr is to enemy guards as well as the current state of alert in the local area via an alertness level meter. To perform many of the assassinations and other tasks, the player must consider the use of commands distinguished by its type of profile. Low profile commands allow Altaïr to blend into nearby crowds, pass by other citizens, or other non-threatening tasks that can be used to hide and reduce the alertness level; the player can also use Altaïr's retractable blade to attempt low profile assassinations. High profile commands are more noticeable, and include running, scaling the sides of buildings to climb to higher vantage points, and attacking foes; performing these actions at certain times may raise the local area's awareness level. Once the area is at high alert, the crowds run and scatter while guards attempt to chase and bring down Altaïr; to reduce the alert level, the player must control Altaïr as to break the guards' line of sight and then find a hiding space such as a haystack or rooftop garden, or blend in with the citizens sitting on benches or wandering scholars. Should the player be unable to escape the guards, they can fight back using swordplay maneuvers.
The player's health is described as the level of synchronization between Desmond and Altaïr's memories; should Altaïr suffer injury, it is represented as deviation from the actual events of the memory, rather than physical damage. If all synchronization is lost, the current memory that Desmond is experiencing will be restarted at the last checkpoint. When the synchronization bar is full, the player has the additional option to use "eagle vision" which allows the computer-rendered memory to highlight all visible characters in colors corresponding to whether they are friend or foe or even the target of their assassination. Due to Altaïr's memories being rendered by the computer of the Animus project, the player may experience "glitches" in the rendering of the historical world, which may help the player to identify targets, or can be used to alter the viewpoint during in-game scripted scenes should the player react fast enough when they appear.
On September 28, 2006, in an interview with IGN, producer Jade Raymond confirmed that Altaïr is "a medieval hitman with a mysterious past" and that he is not a time traveler. In a later interview on December 13, 2006, with IGN, Kristen Bell (who lent her voice to the game) talked about the plot. According to the interview, the plot centers on genetic memory and a corporation looking for descendants of an assassin.
"It's actually really interesting to me. It's sort of based on the research that's sort of happening now, about the fact that your genes might be able to hold memory. And you could argue semantics and say it's instinct, but how does a baby bird know to eat a worm, as opposed to a cockroach, if its parents don't show it? And it's about this science company trying to, Matrix-style, go into people's brains and find out an ancestor who used to be an assassin, and sort of locate who that person is."
On October 22, 2007, in an IGN Australia interview with Patrice Desilets mentioned that the lead character's climbing and running were done by "Alex and Richard – the same guys from Prince of Persia".
Altaïr is voiced by actor Philip Shahbaz, and his face is modeled on Francisco Randez, a model from Montréal. Al Mualim's character is roughly based on Rashid ad-Din Sinan, who was the leader of the Syrian branch of the Hashshashin in 1191 and was nicknamed "The Old Man of the Mountain".
It was made public in April 2008 that Assassin's Creed would be sold electronically and available for pre-order through Valve's software distribution program, Steam. The PC version of Assassin's Creed was released on April 8, 2008, in North America. Four bonus mission types, not seen in the console version, are included. These 4 new missions are archer assassination, rooftop race challenge, merchant stand destruction challenge and escort challenge.
A pirated version of the game has been in existence since late February 2008. According to Ubisoft a bug was purposely inserted into the pre-release version of the game by the publisher itself to unpredictably crash the game and prevent completion as a security measure, though players were able to use extra content available on the Internet to bypass it. The pirated version of Assassin's Creed was one of the most popular titles for piracy during the first week of March 2008. The presence of the bug and performance of the pirated version of the game was believed by Ubisoft to lead to "irreparable harm" for the game and resulted in low retail sales; NPD Group reports that 40,000 copies of the PC title were sold in United States in July, while more than 700,000 copies were illegally downloaded according to Ubisoft. In July 2008, Ubisoft sued disc manufacturer Optical Experts Manufacturing, believing the company to be the source of the leak, citing poor security procedures that allowed an employee to leave with a copy of the game.