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From Catacombs to Notre Dame: Building Paris in Assassin's Creed Unity

Justin Clouse | 6 Oct 2014 12:00
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Bastille

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Personally, I found the Bastille, both its history and presence in game, to to be utterly fascinating.

Unlike a number of the other impressive landmarks in the game, the Bastille isn't around any more. All that remains of the fortress are some foundation stones that you can only see by going deep into the Parisian metro system. Obviously, this makes recreating the Bastille just a little bit harder than the other landmarks and monuments.

However, the Bastille, and in particular the storming of the fort, has been immortalized time and time again since it's largely seen as the kicking off point for the French Revolution. The Storming of the Bastille even features prominently in one of the trailers for Assassin's Creed Unity. During that time, the fort was being used as a prison, though interestingly there were only seven prisoners present. These seven prisoners included four there for forgery, two mentally ill and noble locked up on request from his family for his sexual deviancy. While the event has been propagandized as a blow against a tyrannical government and freeing these wrongly imprisoned folks, what the revolutionaries were really after were the guns and gunpowder being stored there.

After the seizing of the fort, here's where history and Assassin's Creed Unity will part ways. Historically the fortress was quickly torn down and destroyed. Many of the stones were used to create other structures in Paris, like the Pont de la Concorde bridge, and other stones were carved into the likeness of the Bastille as memorabilia. In game however, despite occurring across several years, the Bastille will remain throughout the game.

Catacombs

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Touring the ossuaries below Paris is perhaps one of the most surreal experiences I've ever had. Your mind quickly switches off from being able to register the sheer quantity of bones entombed there as being from millions of people. Yes, millions. There are reportedly 6 million buried there. Towards the end of the 18th century, Paris was having issues with its cemeteries being overcrowded. The solution that floated to the surface was to permanently lay to rest the bones of the dead in the abandoned limestone mines below the city.

This is another area where the folks at Ubisoft are lightly bending history. The undergrounds serve as an important route of transit in the game, and as seen in the screenshots they often draw on the distinctive style and bone arrangement seen in the Catacombs. The transformation of these catacombs to be a mausoleum of sorts, including the bone stacking, would not begin until 1810 however.

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