By Colin Almeida
My story is one of many thousands, and the world will not suffer if it ends too soon.
Ah, Assassin’s Creed. A once-great game franchise that originally had interesting and complicated plot and fun gameplay but that has fallen flat on its face within the past five years. It’s been a sinking ship for multiple reasons: repetitive gameplay, faulty and uninteresting plot development, and–the biggest problem–no real characters. The games of this series have taken a noticeable dive in characterization since the loss of Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Don’t try to pronounce the name right off the bat, look up a video first, it’s easier. Anyway, so why is this particular Italian Renaissance assassin part of three games within a series that usually switches protagonists with every game? Why is he the exception?
Well, the man is introduced at birth, literally. The game Assassin’s Creed 2 leads off as he is being born into the Italian noble house of Auditore in the year 1459 in Renaissance Italy. Then it skips ahead seventeen years to him as a young man in a gang fight. You control him at this point, beating up most of the gang members. But during the fight, he gets hit in the face with a rock, leaving a scar on his upper lip. A scar. A scar that stays noticeable to the player for the rest of Ezio’s life, no matter how old he gets. Which is interesting, because over the course of this and two other games, we watch Ezio grow into an old man of sixty-five. That’s pretty old for this time period. Not to mention doing parkour up buildings, wiping out legions of soldiers, and leading a secret group of assassins. Yep, no retirement home for old Ezio.
Anyway, long story short, Ezio’s family is betrayed by whom they thought was a family friend, and his twenty-year-old older brother, thirteen-year-old younger brother, and father are publicly hanged right in front of him. Why? Well, it turns out, Ezio’s father and older brother were part of an ancient and secret order of assassin’s, a group formed to protect the freedom of mankind from that of the Templars. The Templars were another secret ancient order who thought they were the best candidates for controlling humanity and leading it into prosperity. This family friend turns out to be a Templar and betrays the Auditore family. Ezio takes his remaining family, his sister and mother, and flees to the home of his uncle and fellow assassin, Mario Auditore. There, Ezio trains for two years as an assassin to take vengeance on his family.
The game does a lot of jumping from year to year of Ezio’s life. But strangely enough, it’s still easy to follow. The game does a good job of pacing itself so you don’t lose Ezio’s character development. We literally watch him grow from a young teenager into a wise old man. We watch him stumble and fall and learn from his mistakes. We watch him make friends with historical figures like Leonardo Da Vinci, who is actually Ezio’s closest friend by the end of Assassin’s Creed 2.
All the while, we grow closer to Ezio. We know why he does what he does because we’ve seen him learn, adapt, and mature, from yelling and cursing his enemies for the pain they have caused him to rising above them and giving them a respectable death. He becomes a man who looks beyond vengeance for the sake of the greater good of the world. The reason why he’s loved so much by the fans isn’t just because he’s a likeable character who grows and develops, but also because we’ve been with him through so much. It’s such a sad thing to watch him grow old and witness his final moments, but it’s like saying goodbye to an old friend at the same time, a bittersweet goodbye to a great character and protagonist whom you’ve grown to love and value.
All the while, you can still see that same little scar showing through his long, grey beard.
I could go on, but I think it would be better if you were to just read his last words.
When I was a young man, I had liberty, but I did not see it. I had time, but I did not know it. And I had love, but I did not feel it. Many decades would pass before I understood the meaning of all three. And now, the twilight of my life, this understanding has passed into contentment. Love, liberty, and time: once so disposable, are the fuels that drive me forward. And love, most especially, mio caro. For you, our children, our brothers and sisters. And for the vast and wonderful world that gave us life, and keeps us guessing. Endless affection, mia Sofia.
Forever yours, Ezio Auditore.