On Assassin’s Creed, celebrating the past, and Notre Dame

19.04.2019, 15:32

A lot of video games go for easy options: fantasy, magic, space, war. However, one of the most famous and successful modern gaming franchises Assassin’s Creed from Ubisoft takes its inspiration from the past, and game-players have been the richer for it. We’ve been transported to Roman times, sailed with pirates on the high seas, leaped all across revolutionary Paris to Victorian London and further back through the mists of time with, recently, ancient Egypt and ancient Greece. Always a great and common question in recent gaming times across the space has been: So when/where is the next Assassin's Creed game to be set? 



Although elements of science-fiction are mixed in by way of the ‘Animus’, a DNA-based time machine that sends characters to ‘inhabit’ the bodies of early assassins, this is all just a device through which history can be re-imagined. We get to scale the rooftops and perform ‘parkour’ movements between - and into - buildings, before escaping through windows and blending into the street-life below. We get to meet famous characters, learn their backgrounds and even assist them via imagined missions that all relate to our secretive sect of well-equipped, stealthy assassins. The Da Vinci Code was really just catching up with Assassin’s Creed, although there's not much room for religion or morality in the life, or lives, of an assassin.


The graphics work and attention to detail for all this artwork must be painstaking, but it does play a vital role in the awe-inspiring nature of being ‘back in the past’ and inside an ‘open world’ or ‘sandbox’ adventure game, where we get to seek out quests within the dynamic map. These massive games have a long lifespan, also thanks to various add-ons or DLC, but one does get the feeling sometimes that they’re more than just elaborate games, but also ways to preserve and explore our past, while retaining - or raising - interest in it, via pure action and intrigue. There are also some thrilling set-piece missions, that are reminiscent of big-budget action movies. History teachers need only bring in a console to class or play it alongside their university students (with commentary!)


Anyway, back to reality. For now, this ‘preservation’ graphics work that brought to life Notre Dame in the time of revolutionary Paris for Assassin’s Creed Unity, might just play a role in our modern reality. This is following the devastating fire that has set back renovation and reconstruction on the landmark tourist attraction by an epoch or two.



'Although its arts and artifacts made it out of the fire relatively unscathed and much of the interior remains intact, the cathedral will still require extensive renovations to bring it back to its previous glory.' You can read more about this here, since Ubisoft has offered to help use their knowledge (and some resources) to assist in the reconstruction work.


Also read more about Assassin's Creed Unity the game at Everipedia.org and view some of the gameplay below:



Assassin’s Creed - more movies?

Surely. I mean, we’ve only had one movie so far which wasn’t as successful as expected but was still profitable. Many thought that it took itself too seriously. So the question is really: how can there not be any more movies, filled with action and intrigue? One problem is that the concept behind the games only really works for games. It's something that will be overlooked, but any movie script will have to work hard to find a way to explore the past with sufficient excitement - and credibility - when it comes to the (pretty far-fetched) device of the ‘Animus’. And what about glorifying the life of an assassin? 


The latest (and final) free DLC to Assassin's Creed Odyssey: The Fate of Atlantis


Assassin's Creed Odyssey has been hailed as a breath of fresh air for the franchise, that seems to be moving more into the realm of RPG-style games with less relentless rooftop antics. Maybe it's because when VR versions arrive the developers don't want to see players falling or leaping out of windows.



The future may be uncertain, but one thing is clear: the past is alive and well thanks to Ubisoft where, with each new AC release, it gets closer to present day reality than ever before.



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