Home > Gaming, Opinions (Gaming) > Gaming: The Daily Creed 05: Blame it on the Animus!

Gaming: The Daily Creed 05: Blame it on the Animus!

The Daily Creed is a series of (mostly) bitesize posts about my ongoing playthrough of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, sequel to what is still currently my fourth favourite game of 2009. The first post is here.

That's right, it's all your fault!

The Assassin’s Creed series is supposed to be a reasonably realistic alternate history (sci-fi conspiracy and genetic memory nonsense aside, naturally). As I briefly covered yesterday there are plenty of moments in the Assassin’s Creed games that potentially undermine it, where Ezio’s world clearly isn’t a realistic one.

The game also has the perfect excuse to get around each one of these immersion-breakers though: It’s just a simulation!

I’m not talking about it being a computer game for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, that’s no excuse for failing to make the world feel like a real place. However, within the game’s narrative the entirety of Ezio’s and Altair’s stories are, unfortunately, ‘genetic memories’ of Desmond Miles that are reconstructed in the Animus. That it’s not a perfect recreation is built into the fiction itself, translating all the languages to English, adding overlays to provide clues and extra information, throwing up barriers you can’t pass because Desmond hasn’t unlocked that part of the memory, and so on. It’s why you can’t just skip to the ending and get the answers you need, as first Desmond has to experience enough of Altair’s/Ezio’s life to synchronise his memory with their’s, and in doing so explains away every ridiculous aspect of the setting.

Of course Ezio couldn’t throw massive weapons across impossible distances, but in his memory he’ll unconsciously inflate his abilities, and in the Animus exact distances don’t matter for synchronisation, just the fact that Ezio threw his sword to kill this guard.

Of course guards didn’t place wanted posters all over the city above floor level, where only Ezio can see them, and of course they didn’t forget about him just because he tore down four of them. In reality Ezio would have spent time lying low, spreading false evidence/testimony to clear himself or bribing people to provide alibis. However, in the Animus that’s just filler, and for the purposes of synchronisation all that needs to happen is some event that says ‘Ezio expended effort and became less notorious’.

Of course Ezio doesn’t leap from hundred-foot tall buildings and land unscathed in a small pile of hay that’s always conveniently situated beneath it. In the Animus it’s important that Ezio scales the building to explain how he learns the layout, but the exact process of getting back down is irrelevant to synchronisation so a shorthand exists in the simulation.

Of course Ezio didn’t own every blacksmith, tailor, art studio, bank and doctor’s office in Rome, as well as single-handedly fund the repairs of every aqueduct and own every major landmark. What he would have done is make careful investments, quietly buy a few businesses and erect a few fronts for his clandestine activities, but the Animus doesn’t need Desmond to experience all that in detail so throws up this simplified version.

It works for every stupid or unrealistic bit of the game. Of course medicine didn’t instantly cure all his sword, arrow and bullet wounds. Of course there weren’t flags and feathers scattered around the rooftops. Of course people didn’t leave chests full of money in the street. Of course Ezio didn’t take minor damage from leaping several stories down to ground level. Of course he couldn’t hear private conversations while standing on a roof a couple of streets away. And on and on and on…

It’s not that Ubisoft have made a silly, unrealistic simulation, they’ve just made a realistic game about a silly, unrealistic simulation.

Next on The Daily Creed: Pavlovian punching.
Previous on the Daily Creed: Thrum… Thrum… Snikt!
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