Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection Review – Return to PS3 Era (PS4)
Assassin’s Creed II was my first foray into this franchise, and I’ve been hooked ever since my first rooftop running spree across Florence. Brotherhood was an incredible improvement, and then Revelations was an unfortunate step backward. I hadn’t touched these games since completing them, and I was a little nervous about stepping back into them once more. Both Unity and Syndicate greatly improved the gameplay mechanics, and I was uncertain about stepping backward into a time when parkouring down a building was never graceful. The camera was wonky at the worst times imaginable. The combat was half button-mashing and half luck. These games were pretty good back then, but how do they stack up with the PS4 and it its AC titles with Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection?
PS3 Graphics on the PS4
It’s amazing how blown away we all were by the graphics quality of the PlayStation 3. It’s even more amazing how rough these graphics now look compared to the PS4, much less the PS4 Pro. I knew that The Ezio Collection was not a remastered version of Ezio’s three AC excursions, but I wasn’t prepared with how rough it looks compared to current games. Faces appear flat and disproportionate, especially for the present day characters Lucy and Shaun. The edges and angles of the characters’ bodies are a little jagged. The movement of Ezio’s horse makes Roach’s gait from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt look downright elegant.
It’s painful to watch, but at the same time, you can’t help but feel that thrill you get when walking down memory lane. It’s so easy to slip back into the Assassin’s Creed reverie, and get lost in Venice, Rome, and Constantinople with Ezio all over again. Even though the game mechanics are many steps backward from Syndicate and Unity, the options available completing story missions are simple enough to not need all the bells and whistles of the later games. You really don’t need extravagance when you simply want to go on a murder spree. The classics are often just as fun. I don’t know about you, but performing an air assassination, single or double, never ever gets old.
Same Old Problems
If there was anything that annoyed you from the previous games, it will return and rear its ugly head. As I was climbing a wall in AC2, I remembered having issues with rapid climbing and platforming because of the awkward camera swings. As if on cue, the camera did exactly what I remembered when I attempted a backwards leap to another ledge. I even said out loud, “There it is!” right when it happened. At that point, everything I didn’t like about these games came flooding back to me. I wondered if I would see them all pop up over the course of the three games, and the answer was a resounding yes. The quirky camera, Ezio suddenly jumping off an edge when you only wanted him to climb, NPCs having seizures while walking, and the unintuitive combat controls from AC2 all return with a vengeance.
But this isn’t to say that there aren’t any improvements. Thanks to the better memory and processing power of the PS4, I didn’t experience any texture popping. The grass may have looked fuzzy thanks to the older graphics, but they didn’t pop into place after the fact. The frame rate has also vastly improved, which is quite a relief. I remember both AC2 and Brotherhood stuttering in frame rate at, naturally, the worst times, and I never experienced these frame rate dips in The Ezio Collection.
In addition, the same feelings you had for these games back then won’t really change as you replay. Assassin’s Creed II is still pretty good, Brotherhood is still a bit better, and Revelations is still fairly meh. The problem is that they haven’t aged that well, especially in gameplay mechanics and appearance, so they’ve dropped a bit in estimation compared to more recent titles. AC2 is now good, Brotherhood is slightly better, and Revelations is even more meh.
Still a Stabbin’ Good Time, But…
Despite how much Ezio Auditore da Firenze is showing his age, you can’t help but enjoy yourself as you stab your way through countless Templars. That said, it’s only fun if you already played and enjoyed the games the first time. I can’t imagine taking such a large backwards step in gameplay evolution for those who have only played Black Flag or Syndicate. The Ezio Collection is obviously for die-hard Assassin’s Creed fans who loved the original games. As such, it’s not recommended for newcomers to the franchise or those who have only played recent installments. Even then it’s hard to recommend this for die-hard fans, because the games look so rough compared to current titles. At least it has a frame rate improvement and two films, one animated and one live-action, that serve as bookends to Ezio’s overall story, giving hardcore fans a few more reasons to pick it up. To truly get newcomers and even veteran fans excited about Ezio, perhaps a remastered version is in order.
Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection review copy provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.