How Assassin's Creed: Unity Fails As Historical Fiction

How Assassin's Creed: Unity Fails As Historical Fiction

Another Assassin's Creed game has been released, which means it is time for Robert to yet again look at how accurate the game is from an historical aspect.

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Yes, the characters are all floaty and detached. Somehow they managed to make even the Marquis de Sade boring. The only one I've found interesting so far is Mister 'Pisspot' (The old guy you meet in [spoiler], I think his name is Bellec) - and then he doesn't get much screen time at all.

I'd argue that Ezio's whole arc is a good story... but would have to admit that it's just based in history rather than historical fiction. I still have no idea what was going on outside of Ezio's little circle of action because at some point I just gave up bothering to even try to track the MacGuffins that would send him here and there. I only cared about Ezio.

Napoleon could be interesting indeed if they just focus on him. He's got enough to carry a whole game.

At one point a villain the execution of Louis XVI happens in the background.

I think this is a mistake, second-last paragraph on the second page. Having not played the game, I'm not sure what the villain is doing, but they need a verb of some sort.

His attitude toward the upheaval in his country seems to be that it's a distraction from his revenge, and it leaves me credulous as an audience member.

Another, from the first paragraph of the last page; I think Rath meant 'incredulous', unless he actually does find Arno's detachment easy to believe.

Anyways, an interesting piece. I'd disagree about the Sharpe series being a good example of historical fiction because of it's treatment of class conflict, as Cornwell clearly cares more about the campaign itself, resulting in the plot of most of the books boiling down to, "Rich people suck donkey wang, Sharpe is rugged and two-fisted, Wellington is a Magnificent bastard."

I've still got a ways to go in the story, but I was finding it odd that there were so little references to the chaos that surrounded me so far. It's unfortunate to hear that that doesn't change until the third act.

I'm really grateful that this is one of the highlighted columns on this site- reviews of games as games are certainly necessary, but reviews of games as artistic pieces are equally if not more important and Rath always presents a coherent, well-thought-out thesis. Having not played the game myself I'm in no position to critique this particular article, but I will say that I'd love to see more of this kind of discussion in gaming.

Good article, pretty much spot on. I think the main issue is all the important historical stuff got made into the co-op missions, which is where people care least about story. I've had numerous people quit on me just because I wouldn't skip the opening mission cutscene.

Thunderous Cacophony:

At one point a villain the execution of Louis XVI happens in the background.

I think this is a mistake, second-last paragraph on the second page. Having not played the game, I'm not sure what the villain is doing, but they need a verb of some sort.

His attitude toward the upheaval in his country seems to be that it's a distraction from his revenge, and it leaves me credulous as an audience member.

Another, from the first paragraph of the last page; I think Rath meant 'incredulous', unless he actually does find Arno's detachment easy to believe.

Anyways, an interesting piece. I'd disagree about the Sharpe series being a good example of historical fiction because of it's treatment of class conflict, as Cornwell clearly cares more about the campaign itself, resulting in the plot of most of the books boiling down to, "Rich people suck donkey wang, Sharpe is rugged and two-fisted, Wellington is a Magnificent bastard."

Thanks for pointing those out. Not sure how they got past editing. I'll have them fixed!

Unfortunately, it's the Christmas rush season and I'm marathoning a 30+ hour game each week to write about them while they're timely. Even if you're well-prepared and writing as you play, that often leads to last-minute edits as you encounter elements that change or refine your opinion. For a big game like AC these edits can happen when you're close to deadline, cross-eyed with fatigue and not in the best state of mind to make revisions. (Especially if, like me, you don't get review copies and have to buy it at retail launch.)

Frankly after Shadow of Mordor, CoD: AW, Sunset Overdrive, Sleeping Dogs, Assassin's Creed Unity, and Far Cry 4 my brain has the consistency of Greek yogurt.

Sounds weird that a video game whose publisher is HQ'ed in France and set in the French Revolution doesn't dwell too much on its own setting all that much.

So no mention of the famine and bread riots then? No hiding in the tumbrels? No encounters with Marat in the sewers? (He should have used the roofs).

I've not been a fan of the AssCreed gameplay but the settings have been worth experiencing in the past. Seems like a missed opportunity. I was hoping for a game based in the revolution not skirting around it. Well skipping an Ubisoft game isn't going to break my heart as a PC gamer.

 

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