Tag Archives: assassin’s creed unity

Assassin-in-the-room

Polygon’s Quality Control is a fantastic short-form podcast hosted by Justin McElroy in which video game reviewers (primarily from Polygon) offer insight to their review of a particular new release and answer listener questions.

On today’s episode, Polygon Reviews Editor and guest Arthur Gies elaborated on his review of Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

Upon reading Gies’s review, I was taken aback by the lack of mention to the E3 hubbub surrounding Ubisoft creative director Alex Amancio’s comments regarding the lack of playable female avatar’s in co-op:

It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets. Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.

I posed the following unabridged question to Justin via email:

“Arthur seemed to avoid the elephant-in-the-room regarding female playable characters in co-op. While Polygon (and Arthur) has/have made sexualization and representation an impetus for review scores in the past (see Bayonetta 2 (albeit, on the opposite side of representation)), why was this not addressed? Did Arthur feel that female representation did not affect AC: Unity’s overall review? Did he feel the damage had already been done and no more worthwhile discussion could be added? Or was it that Arthur simply wanted us focus solely on the end-product, sharing the detail we may miss when distracted by the elephant?”

Arthur’s response, time stamp 8:20, edited for clarity:

I mean Arno is the character in the game. And I don’t think women are treated particularly well in the game; It’s certainly not even close to the most egregious misstep that I’ve seen in a game this year with regard to that kind of subject matter. And honestly, the game has so many other problems to discuss that at a certain point I feel like I’m running out of reader patience or attention span to get to the heart of the statement that I’m trying to make.

With Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the traversal problems that the series has had for years and the massive technical issues and a really underwhelming story are all things that undermine Unity very seriously. I could go on at length at various things in the game that bother me but those are the most substantive things that hurt the game. It could still have been a fantastic game despite the absence of women in it as playable avatars. [If that were the case], that might have been a discussion I could have had, but that wasn’t as material as everything else.

Thanks for the time and clarity, Arthur.

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A Tale of Two Trailers

Chris Plante, Polygon:

The trailer is misleading. I know when Assassin’s Creed Unity is released, this isn’t the game I’ll get. It will be about movement and daring escapes and history and spectacular set pieces and drama. That’s the game I want to play.

But marketing plays a role in game development, especially at the level of multi-million dollar AAA games. And if the studio gets the sense that non-stop-bloodshed is what the audience wants, they will ensure that’s what it receives. Only if we speak up, will the studio look at its audience differently. Until then, they will act off the rapturous applause they receive at E3 when a someone’s head explodes like a watermelon thrown off a 7-story building.

If you’d like an example of a trailer that conveys a different marketing method, look no further than the history-focused vignette Ubisoft ran yesterday in Europe. It hints at fictional conspiracy theory near the end, but overall it’s a fine primer on the history of the French Revolution. Maybe Ubisoft has divided their marketing, targeting different audiences with different trailers. Maybe this is them having their cake and eating it, too. Marie Antoinette would be proud, even if she never said anything about cake and that idiom is English.

Fantastic piece by Plante.

The two trailers mentioned, in respective order:

Revolution Gameplay Trailer

Inside The Revoltion

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No females in Assassin’s Creed Unity co-op

Alex Amancio, Ubisoft creative director, as quoted by Polygon:

It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets, especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.

Because of that, the common denominator was Arno. It’s not like we could cut our main character, so the only logical option, the only option we had, was to cut the female avatar.

How was this not mapped out in pre-production?

UPDATE: The Internet is ablaze. The sad part is that this title will still rake in millions, likely billions. We continue to give time to a developer that does not give time to its audience or games. If it’s not ready, don’t ship.

Paul Tassi, writing for Forbes, on the 2013 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag announcement:

I like the Assassin’s Creed series, but indefinite annual releases could prove to be too much of a good thing. Of course, this is asking a company to choose the artistic integrity and quality of its series over money, which in this day and age almost never happens. Ubisoft seems to think they can maintain both, but that seems like a hard bet to take.

I’ve said my piece on Twitter but I’ll repeat: If you subscribe to the idea that it’s just a game, great. Include diversity. If you subscribe to the idea that video games influence behavior, great. Include diversity. If you subscribe to the idea that production time ran out, delay. Include diversity.

Whatever angle you approach this from, whatever lens you look through, there is no good excuse for a AAA game co-developed by ten studios and arguably the most successful video game developer and publisher in the world not to include diversity in a game-mode dependent on diversity.

UPDATE 2:

Official statement from Ubisoft to Kotaku:

We recognize the valid concern around diversity in video game narrative. Assassin’s Creed is developed by a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs and we hope this attention to diversity is reflected in the settings of our games and our characters.

Assassin’s Creed Unity is focused on the story of the lead character, Arno. Whether playing by yourself or with the co-op Shared Experiences, you the gamer will always be playing as Arno, complete with his broad range of gear and skill sets that will make you feel unique.

With regard to diversity in our playable Assassins, we’ve featured Aveline, Connor, Adewale and Altair in Assassin’s Creed games and we continue to look at showcasing diverse characters. We look forward to introducing you to some of the strong female characters in Assassin’s Creed Unity.

This statement feels pretty vapid.

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