Hi. First off, this post is not exactly a "critical analysis" of the game, but I still feel it could open up discussion in this sub since it talks about cultural representation although by accounting only my personal experience with the game.
Assassin's Creed has become this behemoth of franchise that has sold more than 100 million copies and is considered to be Ubi's flagship ever since the first game being released in 2007. The cultural impact of the games are phenomenal, and they are also infamous for kickstarting and popularizing the "Ubi open world" genre which has influenced the gaming industry as a whole.
All being said, the very first game, is still special for me. I've always been a big fan of Prince of Persia. The Sands of Time trilogy hold a very special place in my heart. I'm an Iranian, and for once we could root in a game who was somehow supposed to portray our culture in a fantasy settings. It was good, but it was, it certainly hit a chord, but it was not immersive, and it was still in a fantastical setting.
So when Assassin's Creed 1 was released and I bought it without prior knowledge about it. I was blown away. The game had the PoP feeling because of the fluidity and acrobatics, and it had more for me.
It represented a middle eastern character, in a pseudo-historical fantastical settings talking about one of the most prominent aspects of Islamic history, the crusaders. You were controlling a Middle-Eastern. It wasn't important if he was an Arab, Turk, Kurd or a Persian. He was a middle-eastern protagonist, in a middle-eastern settings with historical ties. It was utterly unique. Mesmerizing even. The game made me go and read more about historical events that had influenced the idea behind the settings. I was astonished when I found out that the assassins' fortress in the game and Al Mualim character were influenced by Hassan Sabbah, an Ibrahimi warlord and his band of suicide killers, hashashins. The remains of their castle can be found in mount Alamoot in Iran.
I have never felt anything like it ever since, and probably never will. There are tons of talk about diversity in the media, about portraying people of color, or different ethnics. The original Assassin's Creed for me, a random guy in the Middle-East which does not reside anywhere near the fortitude of the western culture, a glimpse of what diversity might be. I was disappointed when I found out the next game would be set in Italy during the renaissance era. I still enjoyed the AC2, and Brotherhood a ton. Granted I never played the games after AC3 and the disappointment that came with it, but the time I spent playing the first three games were some of the best times I've ever had playing video games. I am a history geek and the games were like history porn for me. But while I enjoyed the sequels, the original's charm for me was something different. AC1 wasn't just another game for me. It was a form of cultural representation. Although it was still shallow in its attempts, I still felt connected to it.
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