So Ubisoft has finally realized how far "too far" actually is.
After milking their most iconic franchise to death like an abused cow which squirts out liquid gold, the French-based company has finally decided to let their overworked beast of burden take a year off by cutting back on the annual video game releases.
But as soon as Assassin's Creed booked its ticket to the Bahamas, who else but Ubisoft calls and decides that instead of taking a vacation, the franchise will be moving onto the film industry. So much for a period of self-reflection, then.
Unlike other video game movies that preceded it, Assassin's Creed's lore and story are both pretty messed up from the get-go. Seeped in time shifts and conspiracy theories, you think a franchise whose first word means a hired killer would focus more on actually killing people.
And so we come to this: as the franchise moves from games to film, there's going to be a lot more people who will be introduced to the hood-wearing cult and their crazy philosophy. It then falls to somebody who actually played the games to guide them through nine years of historical inaccuracy.
So here is a little primer on the Assassin's
Creed's universe. It won't delve into all the time periods the series has
dipped it's boots in, but hopefully you'll be able to watch the upcoming movie
without having to ask your date how jumping from a really tall parapet into a
bale of hay is any sane person's idea of a good time.
1. It loves assassins!
Big surprise: Assassin's Creed has assassins in it! But instead of bald hitmen with high-powered rifles, this franchise portrays the death-dealing profession in a more action-oriented manner.
For centuries, the Assassins have been working in secrecy to protect mankind's free will. Dressed up in bathrobes and climbing buildings in the most conspicuous ways, assassins traverse countless cities looking for people to stab with their wrist-mounted hidden blades.
While most real life secret organizations (like the Illuminati) have either died or evolved to fit the ever-changing times, the Assassin Brotherhood has decided to stick to the tried-and-true method of gutting their victims with very sharp metallic objects.
Their victims come in the form of various oppressors throughout history:
Napoleon Bonaparte, Caesar, that pizza guy who won't give you your meal without
a tip; these are just some of the people on the assassins' to-kill list, which
only gets longer with each passing time period.
2. It hates Templars!
If one shady organization wasn't enough, the franchise has even included the Knights Templar into the mix.
Directly opposing the Assassin Brotherhood, the Templars don't have a fetish for wearing hooded sweatshirts or pulling off fancy acrobatic moves. What they do have though, is money. And if Batman has taught us one thing over the years, it's that money can make you the coolest guy in the crowd.
With a seemingly infinite number of resources, the Templars aim to control mankind through manipulation. Be it bribery, outside influence, or threatening to make your Internet search history public, these bullies will push and prod at any weakness you have to get what they want.
While this may make it seem like they're the bad guys, you have to understand that being completely free to do what you want can lead to things like anarchy (just take a look at the people who play Grand Theft Auto). It's this constant back and forth between the two philosophies that Assassin's Creed tries to flesh out over countless centuries as both Assassins and Templars duke it out like rival fraternities who can't seem to put their college days in the past.
3. It has an evil corporation!
Since the series almost always likes to portray the Assassins as protagonists, the Templars get to fill out the "bad guy" role. And what better way to get this point across than with a shady company!
Through their affinity for all things evil, the Templars were able to foresee that making money, gaining power, and screwing everyone over at the same time can be boiled down to two professions: politics and business. And since most politicians can be easily swayed or bought into, they decided to settle for setting up a small multinational corporation known as Abstergo Industries.
By having a name over a name, the Templars can rake in money while making sure that mankind is advancing the way they want it to. Cellphones, scientific discoveries, horrible Internet memes, all of these things are controlled and monitored by Abstergo as they widen their reach across the globe and hunt down the Assassins who like to meddle in their affairs like those teenagers in Scooby-Doo.
4. There's a device that lets you relive the past!
One of the things created by Abstergo Industries is the Animus, a mighty uncomfortable-looking piece of furniture that unlocks genetic memories stored inside your DNA. While it won't win any Bed Industry Awards (yes, that is an actual thing I researched online), the Animus allows you to take a nice nap and relive the lives of your ancestors as you see just how similar you look like your great-great-great-grandfather (he's pretty fine).
Instead of using it to win the lottery like I would, both the Templars and the Assassins use the Animus to train their initiates to become killers who hold a grudge that could have easily been solved with a pint and a gentlemanly conversation. Well, that and to look for certain objects scattered throughout history...
5. There are items that can do black magic!
Called "Pieces of Eden", these things which look like they came from a convenience store are actually powerful enough to blow a person's mind wide open.
A fine alternative to any gun, Pieces of Eden were created by a cryptic race known only to humankind as "Those Who Came Before". These precursors did not only create humans, but planned on subjugating them with these glowing objects with their own twisted form of mind control.
See where I'm going with this?
In realizing just how fun it would be to let their human subjects dance
around naked, the Templars plan on acquiring these Pieces of Eden in order to
assert themselves as the human master race. It then falls to the
poverty-afflicted Assassins to stop this from happening and get these relics
before their financially superior competitor does (I'm pretty sure they plan on
selling these things so that they can pay off the rent).
That was just a glimpse into the spider web of the madness that is Assassin's Creed. I haven't mentioned the various powers that result from the crossbreeding of a precursor and a human, or the switching of allegiances that happen every so often between the Assassins and Templars. I haven't even talked about the various historical figures you come across like a medieval Forrest Gump.
But with most of the basics covered, I guess you could say that you won't have to jump off a tower or eavesdrop on every NPC to understand the upcoming film. Though it might not live up to the best video game movie ever made (that title belongs to Street Fighter, with its star-studded cast of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Kylie Minogue), Assassin's Creed will still be a multimillion gamble as it tries to break the curse of video game movies being garbage this January 8.