Assassin's Creed 2: Shot Through the Heart

Note: If you haven’t played through AC2, you may want to finish first before you read this. There’s some acknowledgement of end-game revelations.

Assassin’s Creed 2 opens with a telling disclaimer: “Inspired by historical events and characters, this work of fiction was designed, developed and produced by a multicultural team of various religious faiths and beliefs.” It’s the first in a series of signals that what we are about to play is in fact a very different type of game.

In an industry starved for games that mean something, acknowledge the concept of God in a real and serious manner, and that do more than dodge hot-topic issues, Assassin’s Creed 2 is a game that should be first commended. Clearly the writers of this game put their beliefs and convictions on the line, or at least refused to suppress them, resulting in what can only be a more interesting and provocative game. While most video games are produced with a mindset not unlike Michael Bay  - with a determination not to confuse or defend the lowest common denominator – we could use a developer that pours itself into its’ games.

There were specific things about the game I really loved and can really get behind. For the most part, Assassin’s Creed 2 drives home the moral gravity of killing a human being. Each major assassination is followed up by a small cinematic in which the target dies in my arms. Ezio, our lead character, always finds it within himself to wish them peace, however hypocritical that wish may be.

In fact, it is that conflict that serves as the primary growth experience for Ezio. Rather than becoming more comfortable and hardened as the years go by, each kill brings its’ own surprises and regrets. That guy you were going to kill because you thought he was going to do something hurtful? The letter you find on his person explains that he wasn’t going to go through with it after all. Another man had a family that he loved dearly and anxiously anticipated seeing again. These people Ezio killed? They’re human beings.

The game itself takes place within the ‘Animus’, a type of virtual reality system in which Desmond, our real hero, experiences the past lives of his relatives. This is a brilliant narrative device which drives home the essence of playing a video game in which you carry out numerous questionable acts. Desmond is doing no real harm by merely experiencing Ezio’s many assassinations. He is, however experiencing a very real idea and concept. The acts may be virtual, but they carry real weight and represent real evils. It’s a helpful way to think about the tension video games present in the first place, and in my opinion the masterstroke of Assassin’s Creed 2 itself.

I am a devout Christian though, and just as the writers poured themselves into the development of the game, I cannot help but experience Assassin’s Creed 2 within the context of my own belief system. It is in fact the concept of a belief system itself which this game seems to hold up to scrutiny, particularly when the Assassin’s Creed is revealed: “Nothing is true. Everything is permissible.” This creed is in fact presented in direct opposition to the organized religion of the Catholic church, the only real religious institution in place within the context of the game.

By the end of the game it becomes very clear that the true heroes aren’t the ones who claim the truth, but are instead those who live in ambiguity and seek out freedom. The climactic moment is by far one of the most memorable and disturbing video game moments I’ve ever had: I literally had to assassinate the Pope (it turns out, the games primary villain) as he recited a Latin liturgy in the Vatican.

Granted, this guy is (both within the fiction and historically) probably the worst Pope ever. And yet, in this game, like so many of the other characters, he is used as a kind of object lesson or prop. The game points to him and every other powerful spiritual leader and declares unequivocal villainy. Meanwhile, the group of Assassins which Ezio joins later in the game are the unabashed good guys. We see that over time they’ve grown to be much more conflicted about the nature of their assassinations. Is it really right to take a man’s life, for any reason? In this world, the religious institutions and their leaders do so much harm, that they simply must be stopped.

Maybe we can acknowledge that one of the problems with video games of this sort is that the primary mechanics have a tendency to overshadow any traditional attempt at balance. So yes, while the targets often turn out to be human beings, while the villain is probably about as evil in the game as he was historically, and while the Assassins seem to be rethinking the whole killing thing by the end of the game, the mechanics tell another story.

Yes, that disclaimer at the beginning attempts to say something, but for a video game like this, it says very little. Maybe it’s true that people of various faiths developed this game, but I’m starting to wonder if any of them were writers for the game. I wanted Assassin’s Creed 2 to be an honest discussion about the benefits and dangers of organized religion, but as I jumped out of the rafters and towards the Pope with blades drawn, I started to feel like that discussion was over. When Alexander VI’s sermon stopped, the preaching was just getting started.

About Richard Clark

Richard H. Clark is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture. He has a Master of Arts in Theology and the Arts from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Louisville, Ky. He is also the managing editor of Gamechurch and a freelance writer for Unwinnable, Paste, and other outlets.
E-mail: clarkrichardh [at] gmail [dot] com.
Twitter: @deadyetliving

  • http://www.deidox.com Gudge

    AC2 SPOILERS IN THIS COMMENT

    Wow, assassinating the pope?! How disturbing.

    Thanks for the writeup!

  • Carissa Smith

    Do you think there’s a possible allusion to The Brothers Karamazov in this game? “Everything is permitted” is Ivan Karamazov’s line (well, of course, it’s in the Bible too, but in a very different context). He thinks it’s just a philosophy, but it turns out to have devastating practical consequences within the novel.

    Huh. I think that’s my first comment on a game-related post. :) My husband actually wrote about Assassin’s Creed 2 recently (he hasn’t played it–he’s more focused on the visualization of historical settings): http://www.openbible.info/blog/2010/01/videogames-as-time-travel/

    (Shameless better-half promotion.)

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Richard Clark

    Carissa, I haven’t read it, but Alan said the same thing. I doubt it, though. I read an interview with the developer where they were saying that phrase was the actual Creed of this historical group of Assassin’s which the game was based on. Their thought was that it matched up perfectly with the concept of freedom that comes with an open world game.

    And yeah, I was certainly pretty surprised to see your comment here!

    As for your husband’s post, the historical setting of the game is one of the most striking things about it. I found it absolutely fascinating to just explore, and even climb, all of the various landmarks around Florence and Venice. It was pretty amazing.

  • Booster

    It’s a game don’t read too much into it. Religious people tend to get their panties in a twist whenever they are criticized by the culture.

    It could be that religious people are the ones that need to reflect harder on why they feel everything is an attack on them in the first place, or how some entertainment need to be “thought provoking on the goods and bads of religion in society” and not just a piece of entertainment. People tend to see what they want to see in games, the designers just want to make good games and borrow some themes from the real world, they don’t want to make “statements” like in film they just want to take theme’s from the world and use them in games without stupid sensitive people getting their panties in a bunch. The game wasn’t a message what they think of religion.

    After all the bible is obsessed with human evil, the old testament is filled with god criticizing the jews harshly and turning away from him. If anything assasin’s creed portrays flawed people as they are, flawed and evil. Assasin’s creed is more of a statement about humanity then anything else.

    If you want serious discussion on religion they have theology / divinity courses in university, a game doesn’t need to be heavy. We have abundant avenues for discussion outside a piece of entertainment.

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Richard Clark

    Booster, thanks for your comment, but I can’t help but feel you went a bit overboard in your criticism.

    You said, “Religious people tend to get their panties in a twist whenever they are criticized by the culture.”

    No, I’m pretty okay with being criticized by the culture, even in terms of my religion and its’ perceived failings. I think a lot of the criticism is valid, and a lot of it I feel comes from a genuine, if misguided place. I will acknowledge that there are a lot of religious people who do get annoyed by criticism, but that’s not me.

    On the other hand, I do get frustrated when my faith is unfairly criticized or reflected in a way that doesn’t treat it seriously.

    And yes, I think my faith, just like all faiths, philosophies, and beliefs deserve to be treated with respect and thoughtfulness even when something is merely entertainment. Because even entertainment contains ideas, and ideas have consequences.

    Also, I would point out that did say a lot of good things about AC2. I just think it fails in its’ representation of my faith, which is a subject that I feel fairly qualified to weigh in on.

  • Booster

    ” I just think it fails in its’ representation of my faith, ”

    And many other christian groups would have issues with you misrepresenting what they believe is true christianity. There are as many different types of christians with different doctrines and interpretations of the same book as yourself.

    The whole point is that it’s a game, you’re reading your own meaning into it. There is no deeper meaning, it says more about your own internal dialogue with yourself then it does about anything.

    Remember – it is a piece of entertainment, every story or human institution that has ever existed gets corrupted, intentionally and unintentionally.

    The designers just wanted to use some related ideas from the real world to make a piece of entertainment. Lets us take a realistic perspective – a frivolous piece of entertainment should not be expected to be deep or correct about anything, this is what serious scholarship and public debate in open forums is for.

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Richard Clark

    I’m sorry, I just disagree. Can entertainment not also be “art” and is art not a serious attempt to address, in some way, the real and serious issues of life?

    Scholarship and public debate is good for clarifying and establishing arguments, but art is better for driving them home and making them seem relevant to us, something Assassin’s Creed 2 does quite well in many aspects and not so well in others.

    I like the idea of play for play’s sake, but I also love the idea of entertainment or art that goes beyond frivolous and towards something more challenging and helpful.

  • Booster

    Except video games are not about art, they are about money. These places are commercial entities. The company that green lighted assassin’s creed was thinking about sales not about art I can assure you that 100%

    Video games are not the same as movies, most kids and adults when they are playing Assassins creed are not thinking anything serious about religion but about the fact that it’s cool to be an assassin killing people in a past they can never really experience.

    It seems you are overcome by pride and cultural sensibilities, you want video games to speak to your cultural sensibilities on some level. I’m sorry to say it, but video games are the last place you should be looking for such things.

  • http://spoonfulofhahne.com The Dane

    Booster. Art is about money. Which plainly doesn’t preclude it from also having meaning. I don’t think that video games, books, film, or comics are art—but they’re all about money too. That doesn’t stop them from being cultural artifacts though.

    And as cultural artifacts, games, books, and movies cannot help but describe their cultures. And as descriptors, they have necessary meaning. Simple anthropology, chum.

    It seems you are overcome by pride and cultural sensibilities, you want video games to speak to your cultural sensibilities on some level.

    Whatever you meant by this is lost in the morass of unrelated or unspoken premises. Rich being overcome by pride (possible) is unrelated to his being overcome by cultural sensitivities (what does this even mean? like, emotionally?) is unrelated to his desire to have the cultural artifacts he participates in reflect on some level his cultural sensitivities (and who wouldn’t enjoy that kind of comfort?).

    Beyond the fact that you don’t show any evidence of understanding cultural anthropology, social hegemony, or the multifold use of cultural artifacts, your argument doesn’t even cohere. That aside, I do like your name.

  • Booster

    @Dave

    The problem is video games do not have the same history of books and films. Videogames were originally marketed to kids, if you go back and look at earliest 8-bit games is there any kind of “art” or “meaning” there? You’d be hard pressed to find anything other then wild childish entertainment, you’d come up with about zero games with anything the author talks about.

    The problem with the author is that he wants the game to portray HIS idea of what religion is, the designers want to portray THEIR idea of what religion is. If he is offended he should send a letter to the designers of assasin’s creed and ask them if they even thought about portraying religion in a “more correct” light or if they even care.

    The point is, to whine about a piece of entertainment because it portrays religion in a way you don’t like and then wishing it was different when these games are frivilous entertainment borders on childishness. Games are still by and large toys sold to teens. Why would anyone expect serious portray of religion in such a medium is beyond what is reasonable.
    Especially given the mediums history of being for kids.

    Film and books have no such history, games were specifically the niche of largely nerdy teens and most games today still reflect their tastes (Darksiders, God of war). Does anyone find “deep meaning” in darksiders, god of war or bayonetta?

  • BOOMBrickBOOM

    I find deep meaning in Borderlands… Kill stuff. Make big BOOM. Get money. Bug bigger gun. Kill more stuff. Make bigger BOOM.

  • http://spoonfulofhahne.com The Dane

    @Booster – As for the origin of film, it began as childish entertainments as well (Muybridge’s galloping horse didn’t really convey a whole lot of meaning). So, while origins are interesting and all, they do not bear on the question of whether a cultural artifact conveys meaning.

    That question, of course, is answered by the brute fact of something being a cultural artifact. And it’s answered in the affirmative. That games exist as a product of our culture proves that they have meaning—they are invested with manifold meaning by their mere existence. That you continue to bypass this simple concept is baffling.

    The question that faces anyone who cares to ask it then is: What meaning do games hold, since they must hold meaning?

    What kind of things do they say about our understanding of the world? Of fantasy? About our values systems? About our needs as a populace? About our visual conception? About our concepts of competition, story, victory, loss, patience, frustration, honour, greed, cheating? About our cultural mores and particular ways of communicating? Of visual metaphor? Of ethics?

    Your acuity for what holds and does not hold meaning is lamentable. Your understanding of the history of games is, despite being unrelated to the topic at hand, is abysmal. You refer to gaming as a medium, apparently unaware that when we refer to these cultural expressions (e.g., film, literature, music, games) as mediums, we as a society are describing them as vehicles for communication. Mediums for—wait for it—meaning. Societally, that is what we say and what you yourself by your adoption of the term have said.

    Your complaints about the article are negligible because they are nonsense. If you wished to take issue with the idea that the developer-designed game mechanic and developer-designed narrative exist at odds with each other, that could be an interesting and valuable discussion. I’m sure there are other worthwhile points you could have made if you tried.

    But you didn’t. You deeply misunderstand the place of cultural artifacts and you pretty obviously didn’t understand the above article either. It’s clear from the article that the author wasn’t unduly offended by the game or the values it promotes and abandons as a matter of game’s course, so that is a non-issue. You’re arguing non-issues. And not doing very well at it.

  • BOOMBrickBOOM

    Game, set, match: The Dane.

    Well played, sir. You sure did say that mighty pretty.

  • http://spoonfulofhahne.com The Dane

    @Mr. Boomstick – That, Sir, is because I am mighty pretty.

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Richard Clark

    haha

  • sam

    …it’s a game…I think that’s the point it’s just for fun when you start taking stuff seriously it stops being a game. The whole point is that this game is like a alternative world, one unlike ours but based around ours so it would be realistic.

    If you go through the storyline properly you realise they hide within christianity to gain the most power and influence which was true of those days the christian religon held absolute power. And actually it shows that some of the assassins were also christian…And only 3 of the templars were actually religous figures. In fact most of the figures were corrupt politicians and nobles, it even had a traitor assassin who killed the dodge. In sequence 12 onwards it shows certain priests helping Ezio track down bad guys. If anything it shows politicians, nobles and soldiers as the bad guys. The game is not baised in any fashion.

    I think its a perfectly valid story and end plot and when I killed the pope I knew he wasn’t the pope due a religous devotion he was pope cos he wanted the power of whatever was in the vault.

    Personally I think a lot of religous people take the assassins creed storyline in general (since in assassins creed 1 it wasn’t just christianity it was also islam) way too seriously and should just put up with stories that can be told by branching from historic events and major powers. It’s not ubi’s fault christianity was the single biggest power in those days. It is also recorded that abbies and priests were oftern notoriously corrupt in those days seeking to retain their religons power even if it meant persecuting another religon (hence the setting for assassins creed 1).

    So my conclusion is you can’t just slander a game because it’s possible to make a story you don’t like from real history. The renaissance happened in Italy, the biggest power able to weld enough influence for the storyline to be viable was christianity…that’s a fact of history whether you like it or not.

  • ciknay

    @Booster

    I have to correct you on a few points, as Dave said, moveis began as children entertainment as well, but video games have evolved so that it is also an adult past-time as well. With games such as Heavy Rain, Left For Dead, The Manhunt series; none of these games are intended for children, and should’t be sold to children. The majority of gamers are adults. Play any olnine game and you would find that correct.

  • ShockwaveGT

    Just to add my own sauce here,

    AC and AC2, in their discussion of religion, need to be approached with a great deal of maturity and tolerance. As far as I can tell, Christianity is not a question of debate in AC2, whether it is a flawed religion or not.

    Remaining within the contexts of the game, the people Ezio is sent to assassinate go through dialog to express their distaste for religion (specifically Catholicism), and that the only reason that they remain within its institutional confines is for their own self-interests (remaining in positions of power). Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI) says so in the end, and so do some of the previous Priest that Ezio assassinates.

    You can take these characters, this debate of religion, and place them in a different context. Lets say that we remained in the Middle East and the Templar’s (which included Muslims and probably* Jews* in AC1) established themselves in modern Saudi Arabia (Mecca) and Jerusalem.

    Personally I found the Vault being under the Sistine Chapel to be a far stretch from the plausible.

    Now… Are the people that Ezio killed devout and corrupt Catholics? I don’t think so. Why? Because they aren’t Catholics to begin with. Therefore, the game does not misrepresent the Catholic faith, which is what Richard Clark is concerned about. What are they then? As before mentioned, they’re Templars. They end all the meetings and letters addressed to one another with “May the Father of Understanding Guide Us”.

    I’m Catholic and been around Jews and Muslims long enough to know that no one refers to their God, or Lord, Savior, Messiah, Allah, as the Father of Understanding.

    What I found most impressive though about the game, besides the its artistic nature (the costumes and attention to historical detail in both culture and landscape), to be its story telling devices.

    Personally, the Writers in AC2 have toned down, dramatically toned down, the whole conspiracy vs. real-world debate (2012, The All-Seeing Eye, etc). Gamers went ape-shit (including myself) at the end of AC1 about the symbolism and meanings of Subject 16′s messages. Some thought it was a foreshadowing of AC2 (that it may take place in Feudal Japan (without taking into account that it was Subject 16s Memories and experiences they were looking at), others believed it was directed at the real world and that the Assassin’s philosophy “Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted” to be some guideline that gamers should take to heart to fight the evil machine trying to control the world! (Load of Bullshit…)

    In AC2, less is left for the Gamer to interpret (nearly dodging a bullet when Minerva looks at you and starts talking about your need to act to prevent a solar disaster, which will DESTROY the WORLD in the Vault towards the end) X-P . Alas, the long dead “Goddess” directs her message at Desmond, to relieve the gamer from this burden (to some extend).

    So… In conclusion. It’s a Game… It’s supposed to entertain you, not incite you to see religion or society as a facade to hide any truth from you (even though AC1 does the exact opposite, Where “The World is an Illusion; Where Nothing Is True, and Everything is Permitted,” play AC1 and Pay Attention to the Dialog that Altair has with Al Mualim. This in combination with the conspiracy, end of the world, and other crack-pot theories out there is an explosive combination, which can cause some mental damage in the wrong hand (Gamers with the intelligence of Desmond Miles, who is played off as an immature ‘tard to mirror the mental capacity and maturity of most gamers). Everyone is effected by the Pieces of Eden besides those with a strong mental constitution, such as Leonardo.

    Anyway, I personally find the story and the references to religion, conspiracy theories and history to be brilliant and well executed.

    Can’t wait for Brotherhood and AC3 (on second thought, hope that Brotherhood is not the last in the series).

    -ShockwaveGT

  • TehBrittie

    I must say I am impressed by both your writing and your grasp of the “issue at hand,” sir Dane.
    I must also say that I agree with you, not that it matters.
    I do say that I was impressed enough to comment merely for the sake of informing you I was so impressed- and that, my friend, does not happen often.
    You have the respect of a stranger, congratulations.
    That Stranger,
    Teh Brittie

  • Clark J.

    The figure, calling herself “Minerva” and addressing Desmond directly, reveals that she and others of her kind were part of a far more advanced society (Those Who Came Before) that lived on Earth and created humans in their own image (it is hinted several times throughout the game that humans were created as a slave race). Eventually man freed themselves and the two races went to war against one another, soon halted by a natural celestial catastrophe involving a massive solar flare which resulted in the destruction of most life on Earth. The remaining people of both races rebuilt society. The few remaining Ones Who Came Before constructed several “temples” around the world (one being located within the Vatican) that would help the human race to prevent the same disaster from reoccurring once the Ones Who Came Before had become extinct. Minerva insinuates that records of the existence of the Ones Who Came Before, as well as their warning, had been misunderstood and had, over time, evolved into various myths, legends and religions throughout the modern world. As the hologram vanishes, Minerva says “the rest is up to you, Desmond”, confusing Ezio.
    (Assassin’s Creed II – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

    The game seems less believable. Something so ridiculous as depicted as serious and true (near equal to the theory of Panspermia) . And can possibly leave a stain on a persons conscience. Outside of this, the game play and presentation is great. Yet, what holds the game together and the purpose in carrying out curtain actions. Is a curtain cause in the story. The story and reasons (the cause) behind it is rather appalling and or outrageously sacrilegious to allot of people (see above paragraph). It is almost as though you are playing out the developers personal agenda to discredit Christianity or any ties with Christianity? But you do not realize it because there are attractive “smoke screens” used to keep you from looking behind the veil. Media is a powerful tool.

  • Clark J.

    P.S. Who is Minerva?
    Minerva- Minerva (Etruscan: Menrfa, or Menrva) was the Roman goddess whom Hellenizing Romans from the second century BC onwards equated with the Greek goddess Athena. She was the virgin goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic, and the inventor of music.[1] She is often depicted with an owl, her sacred creature and is, through this connection, a symbol of wisdom.
    (Minerva – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

  • Ciknay

    I believe that Ubisoft had created the Ones Who Came Before as a link for AC3. I presume that AC3 is going to involve Desmond trying to save the world from this solar flare that will ultimately kill off most of the worlds population. Ubisoft isn’t trying to say that ‘God didn’t create the world’, but have created their own story so as to support the agendas of the in-game characters.

  • Clark J.

    Ciknay,

    Thank you for responding. :)

    Do you feel that anytime you add or subtract from Biblical things from the BIble. It will cause individuals to automatically assume that an agenda is being enforced? Ubisoft developers must have known this would happen.
    (“The figure, calling herself “Minerva” and addressing Desmond directly, reveals that she and others of her kind were part of a far more advanced society (Those Who Came Before) that lived on Earth and created humans in their own image (it is hinted several times throughout the game that humans were created as a slave race).”)

    One developer who is now with another company recently. Made comments to reflect his atheist views in a early AC 2 interview. There is so much hatred toward christians and Christianity today in the worlds belief system (as predicted biblically). It pretty much gave Ubisoft the green light anyway (LOL). And yes, It would be less damaging to there sales as an game franchise.

    I would personally give them some credit. For they did their best to create smoke screens by mixing things up to detour “trouble”. From what I read there was plenty of offenses expressed from Assassins Creed 1. They made some changes in AC 2. Yet, sticking to their original ideas (to tie in AC:Brotherhood). I guess when you become overly zealous and do not think of consequences. There is damage control.

    For Assassins Creed 2, I have not yet come across any forum or interview from Ubisoft or Developers of Assassins Creed. Stating facts of why the story is portraying itself as so. Or further more defending it. I am sure if they did, it would create a small black hole the Assassins Creed Universe. In these economic times we live in. They could not afford this to happen.

  • Ciknay

    I’m going to have to agree with you Clark, although i have to correct you that AC: Brotherhood, although is the thrid game being created in the franchise, is not Assassin’s Creen 3. Brotherhood is more of a game to keep us interested until 3 comes out. (Similar to what Bungie did with Halo 3: ODST before Halo: Reach)

    And it’s true that Ubisoft would have to be careful not to offend anyone for fear of losing sales and credibility.

  • Clark J.

    Cikay,

    Thank you for reading and responding ounce again. Yes, I understand that AC:Brotherhood is just an “Expansion” for AC 2. Few are saying it is not but you and I and most people know it is not.

    I enjoyed both AC and AC2 until I learned of the rather offensive errors made when you mix truth and other things together (for AC2 it was at the end). And well, my conscience got to me and I sold them on Amazon. I am sure that I am not the only one saying this. And I am sure others did not bother with knowing the rather “complex” story for other reasons. Most I am sure just stuck with the addictive game play and atmosphere. And focused on only part of what the story is based on. The idea of trying to get rid of corruption against humanity. And prevent future destruction to the world its self. Half truths of the real cause are acceptable these days I guess.

  • Ciknay

    Clark,

    I too enjoy AC and AC2 immensly, and still have the games today, but not originially knowing about the origins of the story i didn’t notice the way that the story could have offened others. But after finding this post whilst looking for research for Study of Religion, I have changed my mind. The argument that Ubisoft is attacking Christianity was a valid concern, but was justified by other people that the conspiritors were not Christian, they were templars. When a game such as this has such a rich story (Halo series has a LOT of background story), I usually go out and do some research, and the storyline appears to be based on real-life occurances. The Conspiricy did exist, and they did attack that guy who I can’t remember at this time, in broad daylight. The main conspiritor did become the Pope, and leader of Rome, thus making peoplel thought Ubisoft was attacking Christianity. But Ubisoft explained in the previous AC that religion was only a background, a minor part of the story. And Ubisoft acheived that quite well in both games. I never once felt like I was killing a Christian priest, I felt like I was killing a Templar. And when Ubisoft incinuated that humans were created as a slave race, they did it for the sake of story. Not becuase they wanted to say ‘GOD DOESN’T EXIST HAH!’.

  • Clark J.

    “The Conspiracy did exist, and they did attack that guy who I can’t remember at this time, in broad daylight. The main conspirator did become the Pope, and leader of Rome, thus making people thought Ubisoft was attacking Christianity.”

    - I am not addressing the conspirator becoming Pope, and leader of Rome. Who needed to be taken out, I agree with those actions. Anyone who is corrupted usually uses a believable descise. Back then, this was a common occurrence. Anyone who says Ubisoft is attacking Christianity on these action. Did not read up on the history of that era.

    “And when Ubisoft insinuated that humans were created as a slave race, they did it for the sake of story. Not because they wanted to say ‘GOD DOESN’T EXIST HAH!”

    - Again, anytime you mix with biblical truths like “God creating man in His image” with …. “Minerva” (Goddess) … addressing Desmond directly, reveals that she and others of her kind were part of a far more advanced society (Those Who Came Before) … (before Adam & Eve) … that lived on Earth …” and … “created humans in their own image ….”. (See Posting October 23, 2010 at 11:44 PM). You will draw an offense, there is no getting around that when you address this (intentionally or not intentionally) as truth in the story.

    Ciknay, I understand and respect you on trying to defend this well put together game. It is just the developers have made the story, that drives the game, to be pro-trade as truth. Creating a story without messing around with the things I addressed could have been avoidable.

  • crossfire

    Thanks for the thoughts and the post

    As a graduate student of Christian theology myself, I found the religious nihilism in the game play– and if I may without sounding pejorative– and the core of “secular satanism”/atheism disturbing not for its presence but for its clarity in how self conscious it was in its unbelief. The Assassin’s creed that the truth is there is no truth, everything is permissible, etc. is basically the sub-text of a Promotheus motif common in most atheist writings (freedom in knowledge of the nothing-truth rather than submission and self-deceit to the God-”truth”). There is also its “religious” version in for example the ideals of the Church of Satan (i.e. no such thing as divine entities, Satan is only a symbol for indulgence and gratification now, vengeance as responsibility for one’s actions, mercy only to the deserving, etc.) It was striking how clearly that message came through, after all wasn’t it the head of the thieves guild that said it is the whores, thieves, and mercenaries that are the true nobles. The claim to be noble is an ethical one, and the question is, what ethic? what ultimate value? That is communicated clearly and not tacitly at all in the wonderfully alluring gameplay. Playing AC2 was a lot like reading Nietzsche’s genealogy of morals for me, I couldn’t help noting how certain the doubting skeptics surrounding Ezzio really were in their unbelief and how certain they were that urges were entitlement to gratification (Sister Theodora’s homily on religion of the heart separate from service of the flesh). Given the momentum of the story, it was also interesting the benediction upon the dying, that is the one anti-Nietzsche note in the game. Thinking of Nietzsche’s emphasis on the strong as good, weak as bad (not evil), is the R.I.P. the last quaint, dying ember of Ezzio’s religion? Or is it the kindling spark of a rising faith seeking understanding? Or is it a nihilist being kind by giving, from their perspective, empty “comfort” to someone who vests meaning in such statements, like an atheist nurse performing an emergency baptism on a stillborn child for the solace of Christian parents? Also, it was interesting the emphasis on last words and summary judgment of a life — was it worth it? I see that as a grasp after meaning or understanding or some sort of existential leap. If one really believed the Assassin’s Creed, the RIP scenes are out of character, in my opinion. If freedom is the core of humanity then the Templars were willfully or delusionally sub-human, i.e. evil, by that ethos. But then again, the existentialist fascination with dying and death as it were means there are more doubts than certainty. Taken together we have a character/anti-hero at the bottom of the whirling vortex it would seem. Talk about the apologetics of despair …

    Thanks Clark for the transparency on the conscience issue of whether or not you kept the game, it is certainly a point to ponder. I still have the genealogy of morals on my shelf and will watch star wars with my kids … of course explaining along the way that Ben Kenobi is wrong, moral absolutes are not the path to the dark side … and yes, the serpentine hiss of Nietzsche should sober a Christian and does warn that unbelief can be self-conscious and willful.

  • Clark J.

    crossfire,

    Your response is a interesting read. It shows another perspective of what motivates individuals to apply such things to a game they put themselves into. In other words, anytime you create something. What is part of you that motivates you will come forth. Just like incorporating into the story of AC2. Declaring gods creating the first humans in there own image.
    We were created in the image of God. So, since God created us humans (first and only humans-Adam and Eve, discrediting what AC2 claims). His characteristics come forth through us as His creation.

    AC 1 not only clearly mention that of no absolute truth. It also stated that the Piece of Eden was the power that enable Moses to part the Red Sea. And enabled power to a poor carpenter (Jesus) to turn water into wine. (They were careful not to mention the name of this “poor carpenter.”)
    “…Ben Kenobi is wrong, moral absolutes are not the path to the dark side “. This and the focus on using “The Force”, is probably what turned me away from being a Star Wars fanboy.

    Further explain in your words, ” …. the serpentine hiss of Nietzsche should sober a Christian and does warn that unbelief can be self-conscious and willful.” And maybe stating ounce again the meaning of the use of religious nihilism and Nietzsche.

  • crossfire

    Clark,

    I think the hiss of Nietzsche is the way in which he distinguishes between good and bad as utilitarian terms of the strong and beautiful (the good/noble in this view are like the rampaging, raping viking who takes what he wants when he wants and no one can stop him – total self-determination and actualization in amoral pleasure). On the other hand, Nietzsche calls good and evil the pejorative tool of the weak collectively to control the strong and beautiful, true individuals. Thus the classical Christian virtues are evil in Nietzsche’s view because they enshrine weakness and undercut the leonine-destroyer spirit of humanity. Nietzsche pointedly states that it is Jews and Christians that are the problem with the world, especially the Galilean carpenter and the beatitudes.

    I mean by religious nihilism the elevation of atheistic ideals to a way of life that functions religiously, like when you hear an atheist say, “If I were religious I would be a buddhist or a satanist.” A buddhist who realizes that there really is nothing and learning to accept that fact dispassionately or a satanist who realizes that fact and does whatever he/she wants. It is similar to the point you hear in the secular humanist manifesto say there is no divine salvation we must save ourselves. Another source on this would be Marx’s essays on religion as well as Freud.

    These themes are firing on all cylinders in AC2, the “nobility” of the assassins is quite frankly to destroy and oppose all collective identity in religious truth, assuming that there is always a will to power and it is destructive of human self-fulfillment. Notice how DaVinci is the only one who can gaze upon the piece of Eden without being captivated by it, he is held up as the true Renaissance man – Ubisoft’s in-game biography and plot devices – paint DaVinci as free from superstitious religion and also totally open to all forms of sexual license. By contrast, this was especially noteworthy in the mission of “bonfire of vanities.” Savanarola was a proto-Protestant, encouraging a focus on Christ, moral purity, and he pointedly resisted the Renaissance impulse towards the resurrection of neo-classical paganism (drunken orgies, what was considered pornographic art and literature in his day, and so forth). Savanarola called the people of Florence to repentance and faith in Christ, and called them to cast away all that hindered them from heaven by casting it into the fire. Secular humanists have classified him as a nut-job ever since because among other things one of a kind Renaissance artwork (i.e. depicting sensual gratification and license) was torched as an act of devotion to Christ on a societal scale.

    The sober warning to the Christian is that I think all too frequently Christians approach unbelievers as if their unbelief was well-intentioned ignorance. That may or may not be the case. In our own day, we have definitely seen a pop-atheism go mainstream with an edgy in-your-face evangelistic tone with the likes of Christopher Hitchens (e.g. his book “God is not Great: Why religion poisons everything” a direct stick in the eye to the Muslim liturgical element God is Great), Dawkins, and the like.

    You are right to locate the highest point of tension in the symbolism of the Assassin killing the pope. The pope, good or ill, who is reciting the Apostle’s creed. It is as if the writers wanted to note that they are mutually exclusive. It wasn’t like he killed the pope in his bedroom, Ezzio attacks him in the middle of the liturgical service while he is performing the duties of his office – you know adoration of God, confession of sin, declaration of God’s forgiveness, confession of faith, and so forth, the basic points of most Christian services Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox in some form or another. I think the symbolism of the villain as pope is making the broader point that all organized religion is suspect. The only voice of “piety” in favor of religion was sister Theodora’s doing what was right in her own eyes, and in good secular fashion it is totally privatized and has absolutely no connection with the rest of the world, other than a laissez-faire morality that refrains from judgment on others actions in light of moral absolutes. That is a harmless “religion” and can be safely ignored, such a religion of personal opinion will never fundamentally transform a society or culture.

    All of the above is what I meant by the hiss of Nietzsche. Both Marx and Nietzsche were deeply troubled by the claims of German/Prussian civil religion and the established church which was in many ways a front for the political regime, leading both to surmise that organized religion in toto is really a cloaked will to power to be overthrown. Nietzsche questioned the reality of real truth to the point that he even said that there is no such thing and thus religion AND science are vain, as both aim at certainty and truth. Nietzsche also ended his life in an insane asylum after pushing the limits of such questions to the point of at least a few nervous breakdowns. The Christian counterpoint of course is that religion and science do aim at truth by different methods (one by faith and revelation the other by discursive reason) but are not therefore incompatible.

    Thanks again

  • Clark J.

    Crossfire,

    Well said, Crossfire. The information you displayed is sadly hidden away from the gamer in the “Assassin’s Universe”. A Universe that is progressing to be quite successful, despite the Black Hole. A Black Hole that is cleverly kept away from anyone really noticing its existence.

  • Ian

    Nothing Crossfire said, this “black hole”, is being cleverly kept away from anyone playing the game, Clark. The game is quite explicit in it’s disdain for religion which is one of the reasons I like it so much. Not many games are quite so forthright in saying so. Altair, the protagonist of the first game, is explicitly atheist and says so many times in the game and in the codex you find in 2. I wouldn’t say the game is hiding anything. AC: Brotherhood culminates in you infiltrating a play of the Passion. You might want to avoid that too. Both the Assassin’s and the Templar’s are explicitly atheist because they know the “Truth” of the game, which is it’s sci-fi back story that wraps together every western mythology and conspiracy theory into it’s fold. I think that’s the real problem you all are having with the game. It places your religion on even footing with 2012-style conspiracy nonsense. You just have to accept the fact that many people, myself included, find both to be equally nonsensical and have every right to convey that through artistic or commercial outlets.

  • Clark J.

    Lan,

    Thank you for responding. :)

    The reason for saying “cleverly kept away” is because the game has a way to pull the person into it just so without being fixed on the back story its self. And it seems allot people do not pay much attention to the back story anyway. This is mostly true by those who only care about the multiplayer experience. And would prefer to skip cut scenes which of course contain details of the story. The story gives reason to play the part of the cause behind the main characters actions. Mixing Christianity and Greek Mythology together then calling it “truth” seems to be pushing an agenda to discredit the bible all together. But that is masked by saying it is just “creative writing”. People like this idea because it makes them feel like they are less accountable to what is right and wrong. Although this game promotes of no absolutes of either anyway. The Assassin’s Creed is reveals: “Nothing is true. Everything is permissible.”

  • Ian

    Clark,

    I would have to say what you are calling the “back story” is front and center without doing any of the optional ancillary missions. The game (AC2) ends with the reveal that humans were created by this race humans considered gods. There’s no avoiding it. Also AC2 doesn’t have multiplayer and the cut scenes can’t be skipped.

    Also, to be more specific the game mixes Christian, Greek, Islamic and Roman mythologies together with modern conspiracy theories to come up with it’s “Truth”. I don’t think anyone would take that literally. Of course, fiction and fantasy can be used to instill and propagate ideas and I wouldn’t argue that the game discredits the bible along with many other myths. Again, I’d argue your issue is that you don’t like the myths you hold dear juxtaposed, on equal footing, with other mythologies. From my perspective all myths are equally fictitious and admire a game that doesn’t pull any punches in that regard.

    Lastly, I don’t think the game has a very well defined philosophical underpinning. They took the creed from the supposed last words of Hassan-i-Sabbah. It’s extremely doubtful that there’s any historical veracity to those words. Everything we know about Hassan-i-Sabbah was written by his enemies or retold folk tales from Marco Polo, a man know to stretch the truth for a good yarn. Would I say the game promotes a form moral relativism? In simple terms, sure. Or more specifically, a form of Hume’s moral emotivism. I have no problem with that. The Templar in the game stand for a form of moral absolutism that seeks to make a perfect world by removing freewill from people. The Assassin’s seek to let people find their own moral framework relative to their existence no matter the outcome.

    PS, the name is Ian, not Lan ;)

  • Clark J.

    Ian-

    Thanks again for responding with an good read of sorts.

    Sorry, I did not mean to confuse you. Just stating that common knowledge of most gamers would like to skip cut scenes and favor multiplayer over the campaign.

    “… I wouldn’t argue that the game discredits the bible along with many other myths. Again, I’d argue your issue is that you don’t like the myths you hold dear juxtaposed, on equal footing, with other mythologies.”
    - This is not an opinion … The Bible contains the only written (and or spoken) truth inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, not a myth (sorry no arguments can dispute this). Myths are created to evade or escape from the truth and or reality its self. The game makes the attempt to make the bible equal to myths.

    Morals originated from the bible and people come along to form their own. For an example; ” … a form of Hume’s moral emotivism.”

    “I have no problem with that. The Templar in the game stand for a form of moral absolutism that seeks to make a perfect world by removing freewill from people.”
    - That is a distortion of true (Godly) moral absolutism. In which the game does on purpose to support no absolutes. It nearly appears to address that no absolutes and anarchy are to be the same? God has given us all a free will. The will of God does not enslave a person but sets them free from the control of sin. So, your right on the fact the Templars used a “form” of absolutes. The templars are an example of what happens when people, by their given free will, decide to twist something for their own ungodly benefits.

    P.S.
    I am sorry Ian about your name being misspelled. I noticed your name was misspelled. I just could not make the correction ounce I submitted and closed the browser. LOL :)

  • Ian

    I’m sorry Clark but you’re assertion the bible isn’t myth is baseless and there is absolutely no evidence that could support it. It was written by men, not a god, and it borrows heavily from every myth in the region that came before it. The bible was constructed by men, excluding whole books that weren’t politically advantageous for the early church, from literally thousands of bits of early Christian scripture. It’s no different than any other religion: constructs of men to suit their own needs. I know, as an article of faith, you need to believe your religion is different than the thousands of others that have and still do exist but there is no factual basis for such an assertion. Also, the scholarly definition of myth in no way fits yours.

    The bible also enunciates absolutely no moral framework any different than a thousand cultures before it. Though prior Sumerian, Greek and Buddhist philosophies at least had the advantage of being internally consistent in their logic where the bible is all over the place. This is to be expected from a book that was cobbled together over the course of few centuries from thousands of disparate sources. Morals didn’t originate from the bible. That’s utterly ridiculous. The bible says nothing about morals that hadn’t been said already in the philosophical writings of every literate culture to come before it.

    The fact is there are no moral absolutes. There are real world situations where even the most ardent absolutist will excuse an exception of their morals as necessary. Heck, even the Christian god himself. He can’t even follow his own thou shall not kill precept in the Old Testament.

    The Assassins in the game are Realists as opposed to the controlling Absolutism of the Templar.

  • Clark J.

    Ian,

    Anything I saw here on end will be dismissed. Because at this point in your life Ian. You have made your choice to reject God and His Son Jesus Christ on bases off of false perceptions. It saddens me personally to hear your in-depth search for the truth has caused you to say such things against God who created you. And it seems that you have for the longest time unknowingly have been searching something or someone to fill the void in your soul. I am convinced that He is sadden as well to watch His own wonderful creation like yourself. To watch patently for your response to Him by surrendering to Him. As you walk aimlessly not realizing your own soul hangs in the balance. But He still loves you. And desires someday that you will surrender your heart and life over to His Son Jesus Christ. By asking Jesus Christ to forgive and wash away your sins. Established by Himself dying on the cross and arising from the dead. And declaring Him as your Lord and Savior and friend. Not only will yours eyes be opened. You will find out that void of restlessness will be filled by the one who put it there, God Himself. The Templars did not come to know this truth that comes with a personal relationship. All they had was knowledge learned. As a result, they did not come to know God and His Son Jesus Christ for true Salvation. In return, it also made them more vulnerable to error and deseption that led them to ungodly acts and a life living in darkness, separated from God.

    John 3:16.
    16) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    Romans 10:9-10.
    9) If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10) For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

  • Clark J.

    Ian,

    Anything I say here on end will be dismissed. Because at this point in your life Ian. You have made your choice to reject God and His Son Jesus Christ on bases off of false perceptions. It saddens me personally to hear your in-depth search for the truth has caused you to say such things against God who created you. And it seems that you have for the longest time unknowingly have been searching something or someone to fill the void in your soul. I am convinced that He is sadden as well to watch His own wonderful creation like yourself. To watch patently for your response to Him by surrendering to Him. As you walk aimlessly not realizing your own soul hangs in the balance. But He still loves you. And desires someday that you will surrender your heart and life over to His Son Jesus Christ. By asking Jesus Christ to forgive and wash away your sins. Established by Himself dying on the cross and arising from the dead. And declaring Him as your Lord and Savior and friend. Not only will yours eyes be opened. You will find out that void of restlessness will be filled by the one who put it there, God Himself. The Templars did not come to know this truth that comes with a personal relationship. All they had was knowledge learned. As a result, they did not come to know God and His Son Jesus Christ for true Salvation. In return, it also made them more vulnerable to error and deseption that led them to ungodly acts and a life living in darkness, separated from God.

    John 3:16.
    16) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    Romans 10:9-10.
    9) If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10) For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

  • Ian

    Clark,

    Apparently our discussion has reached its end. If I’m bringing facts and well drawn points to the table and your response is to proselytize then we probably can stop there. Don’t worry about my nonexistent soul. I’m neither restless nor walking aimlessly. I just find purpose in things that actually exist.

    Ian

  • clark J.

    Ian,

    Sadly yes, there is an end to everything but our souls live on in either of the 2 places.

    As far as this discussion is concerned. I am sure it will come up again. That certainly cannot be debated as well.

    Blessed gaming to you Ian. :)

    P.S. Assassin’s Creed is certainly a well put together game. Even if the “glue” that holds it together will erode like dried chewing gum.

  • http://arthurandtamie.wordpress.com Arthur

    I wonder how we’d conceive of a video game about someone like Bonhoeffer…

  • Dan

    @ Sam:
    I do, very much, agree. AC is a game. Most of the world understands that, and that’s why most of the world plays AC. I do not think that this is an attack toward Christianity, but a mere attempt at making a game more… Realistic. The game has a lot of facts that are incorrect, so that emphasis more that it is JUST A GAME. My parents are freaking out and I don’t understand. Is everyone here okay with killing people, just not spiritual leaders? Additionally, is there really any assurance that the pope (at the end of the game) is, in fact, a Christian?

  • Clark J.

    Dan,

    The “Pope” at the end was not representing Christianity. He was rather a wolf in sheeps clothing. Personally, I think he is well deserved to be taken out. Just like Hitler, Stalen and other historical figures who were bent on evil doings against humanity.

    Mixing Christianity and Greek Methology together as one. And declaring it the “Truth.” This is where you begin to discredit Christianity. Or rather act out an Anti-Christ agenda or impulse. Some dismiss this and call it “creative writing” and or it’s just a “game”. Many people buy that masscurade these days. And well, there are others who just do not care about the story that supports your reason for the actions you play out.

  • Ciknay

    @Clark

    It’s true that “The Truth” areas of the game mix Christianity and Greek, but it also discreditits a majority of religions and people. This is done with the ‘Peices of Eden’. It claims that John the baptist had a piece, Jesus was ressurrected with a peice, Buddha was in possesion of a peice, The Greeks had viewed ‘Those Who Came Before’ as gods, the Egyptians were believed to have them.

    The game also goes as far to say that we were not created from any god, but from Those Who Came Before. That discredits ALL religious theories as how we came to be on this universe.

    I do have to point out that “The Truth” sections in ACII & Brotherhood deepen the games story, and adds more to the game than “Kill bad people”, it rather gives the player as Desmond a reason to fight. Everyone loves a conspiracy, and this one is a biggie.

  • Mephisto

    This post has past quite some time but I could not help but stumble upon it. I have read everyone’s posts up to this point and have seen an enormous degree of intellectual clamour, wrought with some rather intense disclosure of ideas as well as a personal sermon for a fellow realist whose soul has apparently wondered off because his eyes were opened on his own will rather than on the will of a very old and mundane book. The only thing that seems to have dwindled in intensity, in fact, was everyone’s particular grasp on… grammar faculty. Ah, but it is the internet, and without a face or a voice for intellectual combat, what desire could their possibly be in holding a feather to the enemy if I can just say more words than he can.

    Where was I? Oh yes.

    Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. I have to admit, I rather like the phrase. In fact, I’ve fallen in absolute love for the series, Assassin’s Creed. It may intrigue some and befoul others to know that I am currently eighteen years of age and found the series much earlier. I am what several of the posters prior to me have referred to as… the “unintelligent demographic.” I suppose I should support this with more meat on the bones; I suppose just because I can string fancy words together is irrelevant merely because I am a young adrenaline jockey who couldn’t possibly have any value in the validity of certain philosophical works of Nietzche and so on. Alas, another diatribe deluded from my original point, but I digress that it was necessary to say. I can only hold my opinion in silence for so long before needing to outpour it to the elders of society that believe this generation is inept at higher social processes.

    Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. Where to even begin, beyond a repeat of a purely philosophical-sounding statement? To the interest of the game itself, I understand completely where everyone has stood prior to this. From the top, shall we: the game is a cultural artifact, undoubtedly, as are all works of mankind. From the lowliest stick-figure drawing stuck against the refrigerator to the most enamored piece of beautiful sculpture work and craftsmanship the world has ever seen, perfected by none other than the wonderful Michaelangelo (should it pain you to know, I find it more interesting to pronounce his name- and pardon the barbarity- Mikh-elangelo- just sounds more… ritzy). Not all video games produced by their developers are merely mindless rabble for people to fork money for, though I’m certain that is most obviously what the developers want. But as I see it, we forget the economy idealogy behind this. We pay for the story to unfold to us, do we not? Obviously some out there buy things merely to experience the bloodthirsty doldrum of an emotionless state, but as any man who as read all of this wonderful discourse could see, many people… don’t. They play it for the story and for the compassion of the characters, the actions they portray, the.. the.. THINGS they portray- the metaphors that each thing stands for. For instance, one can delve into the art to see that both Altair and Ezio stand, in respective languages, for “Eagle.” As far as I can tell, the Eagle has been a symbol of liberty since ancient times. These minor fascinations are far more abundant than most people care to delve into the situation and I can sadly say that the experience is utterly lost to them if they do not find their own meanings.

    This brings me to my second point. Interpretations are purely that. Interpretations. It may seem impossible to think that anyone of even the slightest impressionable nature would find this story, as “crafty” as it is, more real than real life. The entire game forges its own conspiracy theory based upon just about -every- conspiracy/doomsday theory to this date. It takes history and (re)forges it in such a way that makes the person attempting to make sense of it all question the validity of history. But… that’s what a conspiracy theory is, is it not? To make us question the mundane? To make us question what is and always has been? The upheaval of integrated thought is not a new thing to behold. Is it too bold and rash to say that I am shocked that people are shocked? Because there’s nothing ultimately shocking to behold. Everything in this game has been portrayed before; there have always been definites and indefinites and there will always be both of them. Always, and forever. In such a way that ties in with the games original philosophy. I find, in my very own personal interpretation, that the entire series merely stands for a very simple debate between two philosophies- Determinism versus Free Will.

    Of course, many will see that God, Catholics, Christianity, the Bible, all-that-is-and-forever-will-and-shall-be-redundantly-abundantly-Holier-than-thou-shall-ever-art-be-done-below-Him… etc. etc, as being “attacked” as soon as… ANY question is raised. For that I can only say… It’s only natural to fear the unknown. Under the conspiracy theories- and this is tying in knowledge from the more recently released Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood- portrayed in Subject 16′s second “Truth” messages, it shows adamantly that the Templars created even Capitalism to control the masses. They developed the television set to channel low-energy pulses to masses of people, keeping them under the thumb of a shadow corporation that controls all governments (and that is a load of conspiracy theory). They were the inventors of robots because robots represent the purest form of absolute control of a worker; direct power over that which has no form of free will. I prod this up to prod back at the idea of religion being seen as an emobiment for evil.

    Which brings me once more to the statement: Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. I have seen several good interpretations of this statment here- as well as a few.. dismissable ones. The game in no way states that Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Atheism, Satanism, Hermeticism (and so on) are evil, because- just as Capitalism is portrayed in Brotherhood- they were first portrayed by intelligent people, misguided people, and/or ancient people, then taken over by the Templars to be methods of control over others. Such it is that Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI) says such anti-religious things at the end of Assassin’s Creed: 2- he is no more Christian than a demon, and specifically as he states, he is only hungry for power. That is all the game boils down to.

    Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. Nothing we are told is true. Everything we find is permitted. No belief we are force-fed is real. Every original thought that sparks should be allowed.

    I could distill unto any reader who happens to find this message hundreds more of these interpretations of the simple statement that “Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” It is most certainly one thing: a realist’s statement. A phrase for one who wants to believe that there is a “truth” to find when they find themselves lost in a place where there seems to be no truth. There are so many messages provoked by Ubisoft’s game that it becomes difficult to see through all the clouds and so-called “smoke screens” they left against us, all of which are meant to act as conspiracies act, as I have said, to question our own world. No one is meant to obviously believe that something bigger than themselves is controlling them. They are merely meant to take in the message and feel liberated by the fact that, regardless of what their convictions to be- either to one God, many, or none- they are still their own person, and that they have never needed a scripture to command their way of life, only that they follow a guideline of what morality is to them.

    But, personally, I entertain the idea that a group of men with hoods have been blending in with crowds since the dawn of mankind removing the rotten apples of this world one step at a time. I mean, how hard could it be to believe that we are just pawns on a larger chestboard; all of us, working in correlation to someone else’s plan. Isn’t that God? Isn’t that Government? Isn’t that what the fight for social power, social justice, social command, social directive, social cleansing, and so on is all about?

    And who are we to believe that it may not be true?

    I’d suppose, simply… that’s why everything is permitted.

  • Ciknay

    @Mephisto

    You my friend, deserve a clap for that comment. Very well written, and makes all my previous comments seem juvenile…

  • http://www.SportsStudioCasting.com Thuy Soliece

    This is some good solid work here, I think some athletes will prosper from this here post. I may have to forward this along to a couple friends I know.

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    I am so glad I popped in to see what was going on in this thread. Mephisto’s comment is breathtaking. I simply adore it when the ESL kids come out to play, admonishing others in regard to ineffectual grammars and producing gems like, “I suppose just because I can string fancy words together….”

    Honestly, I didn’t take the time to read any of the back-and-forth between Clark and Ian and Crossfire and Ciknay. I got all the joy I needed from simply basking in the glory of Mephisto’s tortured prose. Honestly, I’d feel pretty bad about getting so many giggles out of reading the scrawl of someone whose native tongue is so clearly foreign to my own, but comments about others’ dwindling “dot dot dot dot grammar faculty” really worked overtime to relieve me of any feelings of shame in this regard.

    It is my solemn hope that Mephisto will become a regular contributor to these comment threads so that whenever I’m feeling blue, I’ll always have fresh fodder for my happiness engine. In any case, Mephisto, thanks for the fuel. My smiles today are from ear to ear.

  • http://scott-schultz.blogspot.com/ Scott

    Finnegan’s Wake, anyone?

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    Now now, at least Joyce was plausible.

  • Sam

    What a very interesting discussion, i have just recently finished this game and it has been good to hear other peoples thoughts on the deeper side of the story. I have to say Mephisto, what a awesome reply, im the same age as you and i know i could never come up with something so interlectual.

    As discussed earlier i feel games nowaday’s are growing or expanding with more interlectual storylines, ie the Assassins creed series and i think games are just as much art as films or books are. Definately not just childrens entertainment.

    Ive got so many thoughts regarding this, i cant say anymore for now but i hope to reply again at a later date. I would love to hear any other deep discussions on the other Assassins creed games also. Especially with the upcoming Revelations game.

    Overall i think this series is absolutely brilliant and cant wait for more!

    Sam

  • jtfire360

    Assasin’s Creed should be taken as another mythology, another tale, another story, no matter religion or race you are. Templars have infiltrated and corrupted each institution as they see opportunity, and the Assasins want people to be free- thinking, Carpe Diem. I couldn’t help but notice some atheist ideas (everything is permitted) which sometimes could conflict with a moral code, but if you take this series the same way you would take a game about roman or Greek mythology, then it shouldn’t be offensive.

  • Jimmy

    I LEIK JUM,PING ON PEOPLE ABND STABBING TEEM IN THE HEAD LOLOL.

  • Tyler

    I see how these elements would portray the things your are suggesting; however, the Roman catholic Church was one of the notoriously corrupt institutions for the longest period of time. They are one of the biggest offenders of oppressing the people by scheming their money off of them. They took advantage of the illiterate and taught them false doctrine. They basically had the people eating from their hands. They controlled the people. I am also a Christian. I do not believe that the Roman Catholic church represents Christianity. Yes, some may draw rash conclusions about Christianity in general, but those who are educated and cherish knowledge know that Christianity and the roman catholic church are vastly separated. While Ubisoft could be making a direct strike against Christianity there is also the possibility that it is a strike against more than Christianity. It could be that it is a call to open your eyes and see the world as you would see it and not as your have been told to. It could be a message to rise up against the oppressive powers, be it the government or any other establishment, and fight for the right to be free. The reason i do not think it is a direct attack against christianity is because in the first Assassin’s Creed you fight to save the life of King Richard who is the leader of the Crusader Army. The Crusaders could be the most prominent fighters for Christianity. I think the message is about corruption and freedom, not of religion.

  • Tyler

    To clarify about what i said about the separation of the Roman Catholic Church and Christianity. The RCC (Roman Catholic Church) only used Christianity to accumulate power and wealth.They Christianity achieved this because it was the most universally popular religion of the time. If it were any other religion they would have used it in the same way. Although they associated them selves with Christianity, they truly had no more interest in God than they did for the people from whom they received their money.

  • Tyler

    Also i am not in any way saying that Assassins Creed is in any way promoting Christianity. Yes, its in actuality tearing down all religious establishments, but that means its not a attack on Christianity solely but on all religion. To single out Christianity and say they are attacking our religion is seeing only a portion of the picture. This game does indeed promote an atheistic view point, but that only proves its not attacking Christianity is instead attacking religion in general. I do believe this be an agenda the game pushes but i do not see it to be the main agenda. as i mentioned in my first post, i believe the main agenda to be to stand up under oppressive institutions and corruption. To see the world in our own way and not as we are told to.

  • Teh Benjamin

    As I see it, in my own eyes, Altair was of the Muslim group of Assassins, who were wiped out almost completely in the 1200′s. They were the original group of Assassins. In 300 years religion itself gained and lost power. Ezio was in Italy’s group of Assassins. There are assassin groups all around the world by now. Italians are mainly Catholic, which describes Ezio’s religion. He assassinates religious figures because…. They were corrupt from the way God designed the church to be. It is like the traitor at the beginning of AC1 “He was truly evil.” At that time, the Renascence was the begging of separating the church and government. The original point of the assassins was for political and religious power in the first place. That is why the assassinations were taking place.

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  • jeromy

    Nothing is true, everything is permitted. Traced to the novel Alamut, regarding the use of religion as a means to power in an Israeli Muslim group. Also appeared in other books following Alamut, The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevski and discussed by Albert Camus in The Rebel.

    AC cannot be summed up by the Christian mythos. Nothing is true, everything is permitted does not concern objective truth, but revolves around subjectivity, ie morality and politics.
    Whether or not a god exists is an objective truth: it either does or it doesnt, and does not depend on one’s belief.

    It is a game that revolves around history and people, cultures. The point is to think for yourself. There is an existential feel to the assassins.

    A person’s life is a book of events that are true. But the meaning of those events, only the person who experienced them can give them meaning. A sort of empiricist view. I cant tell you what life means, its is something you must discover or create for yourself. In this sense, we are all on our own journeys, with a multitude of perspectives that influence our own. The fact that this is the way things are uncover the fact that it has no inherent meaning, no universal truth. Both dna and experience create a diverse human experience. The fact that many Americans are Christian is a result of being born into a specific culture at a specific time, to unchosen parents. But the same goes for Muslims. And ancient Romans born to follow Minerva and Jupiter. Most people accept what they are born into. They never question it, or if they do, never follow through for fear of seeing it for what it is and being ostracized for it.

    We live in two worlds. One is the earth, with people just like us.
    The other is Jean Baudrillard’s map anecdote in Simulacra and Simulation…a world of human art and invention, like countries that only exist on paper. This world creates the who from the what, and relating through experience of the theme park.
    The templar use the map to control people, while the assassins allow the freedom to be. A modern analogy would be the political moral stances of the right wing (templar) vs left (assassins). This is illustrated by The Truth. Ford and company manipulate the people and economy for their own gains, while Tesla and company gave to mankind. The rich get rich and the poor stay poor, while true nobility is found in those that stand up for people of lesser means….like Christ is depicted. But his church is nothing like him. His temple was the heart, not a building. Christ is like Apollo meets Socrates….god the human humanist.

    AC Places all religion in the same mythological context, illustrating their similarities….such as beings that are half man, half divine, the union of 2 worlds.

    The trick is to not see things how you WANT to see them, but as they really are. Not to accept AC’s allusions, but read through philosophy, history, and other cultures and see it for yourself.

    “we work in the dark to serve the light” – no one knows how the cosmos got here, as opposed to where it was, as if it were somewhere else. But that doesnt stop the assassins (or modern day humanists) from helping and caring about other people. Because life is what is happening now. But you have to pay attention to know, and not dream of a place over the rainbow where everything is perfect.


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