Notre Dame and its Virtual Successor
Notre Dame, one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, partially burnt down on the 15th of April, through to the hours of the 16th. Politics and religions aside, there is a massive public respect of a building so intricate and with so much history. With much of it saved, I hope one day it will be restored and this fire becomes a historical event where Notre Dame rose again from the ashes (pun intended).
This event did make me think though, of times I’ve seen Notre Dame. I have visited Paris a few times in my life, and in at least one of them I can remember standing outside the massive doors by the bell towers and looking up in awe. The other time I can remember seeing Notre Dame, is in Assassin's Creed Unity, with the same feeling.
The Assassin's Creed games, for me, do one thing right above all. The research and dedication that goes just into looking into the cities and towns recreated throughout history is just incredible. Many hardcore lovers of the Ezio era of the games know the insides of the Sistine Chapel without ever visiting.
Notre Dame, however, is different. It was special. In a game as heavily criticised as Unity was, Notre Dame had to be perfect as the most famous cathedral in the world and the landmark of what Paris was in 1499. Notre Dame took one developer 2 year to recreate. 2 years to just try and encapsulate a portion of the beauty and history of a building. And it is one hell of a building.
It makes you think though, of the importance of a game like Assassin's Creed. As any Assassin’s Creed enthusiast knows, the series goes far and wide, from Paris in 1776 to London in 1868 to the Egypt of 49-47 BCE. It spans incredible distances of history and space and although it’s a game, it also gives the player something more. These games gave players the chance to walk the streets of Kingston as a pirate and pretend to be a religious man in Jerusalem, giving us a better historical knowledge but the also the chance to look at something like the Pyramids up close and personal. As such, the depiction of Notre Dame is beautiful and real in Unity and since the fire a couple of touching things have happened.
Unity is free to add to your Uplay library currently, giving everyone who never got the chance to see Notre Dame in real life, the chance to now in the game. Not only that but Ubisoft is donating €500,000 to the cathedral to kickstart its renovations. There are speculations as to whether the game’s team will be able to assist the renovations through their study of Notre Dame, although this is still, as of yet, unconfirmed.
What we do know, however, is that as tragic as the Notre Dame fire has been, it has be beautiful to see players of the Assassins Creed games go back and look at the cathedral in all its former glory. Who would have ever though games could be good for anything eh?