Published on November 28th, 2016 | by Sean Warhurst
Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection PS4 Review
Summary: There’s really no reason to pick this up if you already own the previous gen versions of the games but newcomers will find some enjoyment.
Underwhelming Remastering Effort
Kind of (but not quite) skirting Ubisoft’s promise that this year wouldn’t see a mainline Assassin’s Creed title, the decision to re-release Assassin’s Creed 2, Brotherhood and Revelations as a single package makes financial sense, at least.
Considered by many ardent fans as the pinnacle of the franchise, the three games that enthralled players with the exploits of Ezio Auditore da Firenze as he dispatched targets across Renaissance era Italy have been remastered and ported over to current generation consoles, but has there truly been enough time since the games were initially released to justify this collection? I mean, it’s not like the Assassin’s Creed games were console exclusives or anything and, in all honesty, the half-hearted porting effort by Virtuos, who also bungled the recent Return to Arkham Remaster, means that there’s little incentive to pick this up over grabbing the three titles for a tenner on the PS3 or 360.
When it was initially announced, I, like many fans, expected a concerted effort to update these beloved games to current standards; something along the lines of Bluepoint’s excellent work on Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, tweaking the controls and visuals to fall in line with what modern audiences would expect.
Instead, unfortunately, it looks like Ubisoft were content to give fans what is essentially a port of the PC version, upscaled to 1080p and locked to 30fps, with some additional architecture, enhanced lighting and liquid effects, new skyboxes and minor boosts to texture detail. Perhaps most egregious, however, are the “improvements” to the character models. I’m sure by now you’ve seen the pictures of the NPC who has been inexplicably changed to look like the “Sad Pepe” frog meme, but if not, prepare for the most baffling overhaul of character design you’ll ever see:
Look at those eyes. They plead for the sweet, sweet release of death.
Now, that’s an extreme and hilarious example and, playing through the PS4 version, it seems like that NPC was rendered in a much more realistic manner than the abomination that was thrust before the eyes of Xbox One users, but in general the changes to the character models and animation paradoxically serves to make the game look worse than its last gen versions, especially with Assassin’s Creed 2.
Another factor that needs to be considered is that of rose-tinted glasses colouring memories of the games that followed Ezio’s story from his beginnings as a brash, young playboy in Florence Italy all the way through to his twilight years stalking the streets of Istanbul.
Although it’s inarguable that each of these games built upon the formula of the first entry in the series and introduced mechanics and quality of life improvements that would later become the norm, upon replaying them the anachronistic design choices and archaic mechanics become all too apparent, especially when coming from Syndicate or a similar late-series title.
Again, efforts could have been made to tweak these relics of game design so that they more closely resemble modern titles but the decision was made to give fans the Ezio trilogy, warts and all.
Most frustrating is the lack of precision in the climbing. Often you’ll be scaling a building with the grace of a svelte spider monkey when suddenly the game will decide that instead of reaching for the ledge above you that haphazardly springing from the edge and taking a leap of faith before nosediving onto the cobblestones beneath you would actually be a better course of action, button inputs be damned.
The combat similarly feels clunky and unresponsive compared to the later titles, which is kind of to be expected, but even when held up against an era-appropriate contemporary like, say, Arkham Asylum, the flaws become glaringly evident.
It’s not all bad news though – As I said earlier, Ubisoft has elected to give us these three games in pretty much their original form, warts and all, which means that the engaging narrative, satisfying exploration and arguably the best characterisation of any main protagonist in the series all make a welcome return.
For the price, there’s a wealth of content to be explored here and despite being slightly hamstrung by the limitations of last gen, there’s more than enough reason to check out the collection if you’re perhaps a fan who entered the series with one of the later instalments; If you’ve played these three entries before though, then honestly there’s little added here to entice you to double dip, although the two short films included with the set might swing the decision for some.
Graphics and Audio
Disappointingly the three games contained in The Ezio Collection have barely received a visual overhaul at all. Sure the resolution has been stepped up but, as mentioned above, all too often the attempts to spruce up the graphics fall flat, at least in regards to the character models. The environments genuinely still look pretty exceptional, with Revelations probably coming off as the most aesthetically pleasing of the three, but that’s again more down to the age of the title rather than the remastering process.
The audio is terrific, with few instances of horrendous voice acting, although some of the accents can be pretty ropey at times. The sound design is immersive and as true to life as possible, holding up fairly well even against today’s standards.
Look, let’s be straight here – The Ezio Collection is a fairly lazy port. Minimal effort has been made to improve the games either graphically or mechanically and there’s absolutely no reason to pick this up if you already own the previous gen versions of the games.
However, there’s a caveat – If you’ve yet to play through any of these three games, then prepare for a gripping adventure that unfolds over two great games and one pretty decent one (Revelations is the latter, in case you’re wondering). Adjusting to the gameplay anachronisms takes a little bit of time, showing just how far we’ve come in five short years, but if you’re willing to overlook these minor issues and just enjoy the games for what they are, then by all means give The Ezio Collection a look.
For everyone else though it’s probably a wiser idea to save your shekels and grab a ticket to the upcoming Michael Fassbender film for your Assassins Vs Templars fix this year.
Primary Format – Games – PlayStation 4
Game Genre – Action & Adventure
Rating – MA15+
Consumer Advice – Strong violence
Game Developer – Virtuos
Game Publisher – Ubisoft