A reader compares the real London to the Victorian version found in Assassins Creed Syndicate and is impressed at how similar the two are.
As the level of immersion continues to deepen, and our awareness and perception of the virtual worlds we inhabit and the environment around us unifies I decided to take a look at one cities digital and physical appearance.
It was in the summer of 2011, when playing through Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, that I genuinely had a moment when I stopped and paused, staring in marvel at the incredible representation of the Foro Romano in Rome. Before this I had experienced New York, among other American cities, on numerous occasions but this was the first time a European location had been reconstructed and presented as a modern digital playground.
Having visited this location on numerous occasions I enjoyed just stopping and wandering about, recognising certain key landmarks and buildings. When Assassins Creed Syndicate was announced as being set in London I was intrigued and excited to be able to explore the city I call home and compare and contrast some of the landmarks that are so familiar in my everyday life. My main ambition was to compare the digital representation of the Victorian era world and the current physical buildings that exist today.
This firstly required going around the game and using the PlayStations screen capture mode to try and get a clear shot of the building or location, ideally without the character being present. My tour began with the iconic St Pauls Cathedral design by Sir Christopher Wren and largely, as shown, the level of detail captured digitally was remarkably similar to the building itself.
I frustrate myself on occasion with being overly analytical of small details but here the level of immersion was impressive. Technical details such as the amount of windows and arches were duplicated perfectly but also the wider, general depth of the building. The presence of the smaller tree which in the future had grown and gained depth and size was a fun element to consider, entirely circumstantial I would imagine but still a nice addition.
Carrying on by bus, my journey in London continued to Covent Garden. Holding my trusty camera and phone at the same time I was able to get some great comparative shots, this time with the female protagonist Evie looking somewhat like a lost tourist. Once more the small details such as the arches in the roof and position of the entrance ways were recreated rather faithfully, although the colour palette used, of reds and oranges, started to become somewhat repeated both here and at other venues. But still, it captured the spirit and atmosphere of the location and standing in this corridor between the two main markets did invoke a strange sense of familiarity.
Next stop and the always busy and active Piccadilly Circus. Having visited it on numerous occasions, even when playing the game there were certain landmarks and buildings that were very familiar. Approaching the junction from Leicester Square gave a great, contrasting shot of Bond Street leading up to Oxford Street a short walk away. Although in the digital word this was beyond the games boundaries and inaccessible.
Still, I was able to capture a great shot which did match up in great detail between the two worlds. The intention was never to disprove the efforts of Ubisoft or cast aspersions as to the quality of its game engine, more to see and feel the level of immersion that can exist and be generated in setting a title such as this in a city more familiar than America.
Leaving the shopping district I headed down Whitehall, past Horse Guards Parade and to my final destination in Parliament Square at Westminster Abbey. This was one of the buildings in the digital world I had wanted to capture as a London landmark and when arriving was thrilled my journal concluded with this great contrasting shot.
As with St Pauls, and perhaps because they are so well known and distinctive in their design, there were a great many elements that matched between the two versions of the building. Whether by design or happenstance I was somewhat impressed and accepting of the cleaner finish of the building in contrast to the dirtier exterior that exists today.
Overall, whilst there were some issues with the depth of certain locations, with certain attractions appearing rather flat, and a heavy reliance on a red brickwork finish across the game, this was another title I could just stop to marvel at how immersive and unified the digital and physical worlds continue to be.
By reader ATBonfire (Facebook)/around.the.bonfire (Instagram)/ATBonfire (WordPress)
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