If you've spent the last 30 years in a shelter thinking that the Super Nintendo was the latest and most powerful console on the market, you've probably never heard about Assassin's Creed. You've also been probably fooled by a Vaultec salesman.
Assassin's Creed is a serie of 3rd-person games started in 2007 by Ubisoft that was primarily designed to reboot the Prince of Persia franchise. As the project evolved, Ubisoft decided to make it a unique brand that would tell the story of an assassin, some kind of a medieval ninja, who's goal is to assassinate targets as stealthy as possible. To do so, he would follow a clear process : hide in the crowded streets till he spots his target, and then use his parkour skills to climb high on the rooftops, undetected. Once ready, he would fall on his victim, giving death with his hidden blade attached to his forearm. Crowd would panic, so he could escape the guards using again parkour through all this agitation.
Parkour was an important feature of the first game. But has it been the same for the next episodes?
Jonathan Cooper, who was Animation Director on Assassin's Creed III (2012), had the opportunity during his early researchs for the project to look at the "Brand Bible", in which are stated the three most important features of the AC brand (read his full article here) :
the hooded silhouette
the fantasy of being an assassin
THE ANIMATION QUALITY
As the third most important feature of the Assassin's Creed brand, animation quality has always been pushed very hard by the teams working on the different games.
I'm sure anyone who played the first AC remembers how breath-taking the parkour feature was back then: seeing the character climbing every piece of environment, placing his hands on every single brick or edge was just amazing. Personally I couldn't believe my eyes on what I was looking at. The animations of Altair sold me instantly the idea behind this new game : parkour during Middle-Ages.
So it's obvious that animation became very quickly essential to the AC experience. It is the best way to represent parkour to the player. The pure translation of the "video-game" concept : a game combined with video = moving frames = animation. Animation gives life to a character, and so defines him. An assassin is fast, unstoppable, efficient : he uses parkour to reach sharply his targets; and once he's done, he continues to use parkour to escape the murder scene. Stealthy, brutal, like a shadow. Animation is a key component of the AC experience.