Republished on Wednesday 13th July, 2022: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of July's PS Plus Extra, Premium lineup. The original text follows.
It's become somewhat of a regular occurrence for older games that had any degree of success to suffer some kind of re-release treatment, often followed by the widespread moaning of gamers. Irrespectively, they sell rather well, so it figures that Renaissance Casanova-cum-stealthy murderer Ezio Auditore da Firenze and his adventures are up next in a long line of games that have undergone the spit and polish treatment this generation.
The Ezio Collection on face value alone seems like a no-brainer, especially after its success as a PlayStation 3 bundle in select provinces. This PS4 release features the three Ezio-fronted Assassin's Creed games: Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood, and Revelations and all their respective DLC. It's worth noting that the multiplayer components are not included for any of the games.
Assassin's Creed II introduces us to Ezio as he begins his journey becoming a prolific assassin among the people of Florence in Renaissance Italy. Brotherhood directly follows the events of II where Ezio has had his hometown destroyed, his gear lost, and his Piece of Eden pilfered. The focus is to retrieve it all while also restoring the assassin's brotherhood and wiping out a rival family. Revelations wraps up Ezio's trilogy, following his journey to unlock the secret of a long lost vault using artifacts that contain the memories of Altaïr – the protagonist of the first Assassin's Creed. History lesson aside, the real question is: how do these titles stack up over half a decade on?
Well, starting with Assassin's Creed II: fine if a little tired. Having released back in 2009, a lot about this game feels dated and a tad strange, not least of all the fundamentally borked facial animations. Comical wide-eyed and cross-eyed characters instantly pull you out of any cutscenes, while the voice acting will make your skin crawl. For many, this will be the first time playing Assassin's Creed II since its release over half a decade ago, so being thrown into the story is somewhat disorientating and not helped by the aforementioned distractions. The Assassin's Creed games usually take an hour or so to find a rhythm, the Ubisoft conveyer belt of mini map trash being slowly drip fed to you before you're set loose upon the open world to collect everything in sight, but the opening stretch here feels all the more tedious.
That said, the beefed up lighting and general graphical enhancements help to make Florence (sometimes literally) shine. The awesome viewpoint scenes are now all the more memorable, while the bustling streets and towering architecture feel up to scratch for a PS4 title, which is no mean feat when you consider this game's age. This boost in quality is consistent throughout the other titles included in the collection, all of which benefit greatly from the extra horsepower found in Sony's console. Revelations, being the most recent of the three, seems to have benefited the most from these modern enhancements, and truly feels right at home on PS4, with some scenes even managing to match some of the recent, current gen-only Assassin's Creed titles. As much negative press as remasters and re-releases get, there's something heartwarming about seeing these titles successfully dragged into the current generation in an attempt to massage our almost unappeasable nostalgia, and this trilogy is no exception.
Naturally each title comes bundled will all the same Trophies, which is great news for the Platinum hunters out there and terrible news for those that hate collecting feathers. The Trilogy also features two Assassin's Creed short films – Lineage and Embers – which act as a prologue and epilogue to Ezio's journey respectively. They're a welcome inclusion that may help bring those that are somehow new to the franchise up to speed with the messy timeline. Unfortunately (at the time of writing) these short films are rendered almost unwatchable thanks to abysmal framerates. Granted, they're not exactly what you're paying for here, but it's certainly a shame considering the quality of these films and their overall role in Ezio's story.
Assassin's Creed: The Ezio Collection wasn't exactly heavily requested, but here it is anyway. While the trilogy is starting to show its age, this is unquestionably the best way to experience it if that's something you want to do. Some minor visual hiccups aside, each instalment of Ezio's story is present and intact here, and, quite frankly, having them all in a single package is an incredible amount of game for your money whichever way you cut it.
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