Renaissance Rome plays host to new 'Assassin' game

Saint Peter's Basilica half-built, the Colosseum in ruins and a blank space where the Trevi fountain now stands: computer whizzes rebuilt 16th-century Rome, with a twist, for the latest instalment of the video game phenomenon "Assassin's Creed".

Set for release next month, "Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood" continues the Renaissance tale of betrayed nobleman Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, a descendent of the Altair character who starred in the original title.

"Brotherhood" casts the player as Ezio, a trained killer whose mission is to combat the Knights Templar in the Eternal City.

Street by street, the hero weaves his way through a packed crowd: beggars asking for alms, city guards keeping a watchful eye on the throng, doctors in long-beaked masks offering remedies and potions.

To complete his assignment, Ezio scales the walls of buildings, and vaults from rooftop to rooftop, offering the player breathtaking views over the virtual cityscape.

Working with 16th-century maps and records, with the help of historians, developers at the French video game titan Ubisoft worked to recreate Rome as it looked at the time.

A stay in the city was par for the course to photograph bricks and rocks in order to recreate the feel of the original buildings, producer Vincent Pontbriand told AFP during a walk through the streets of the Rome to illustrate the design process.

But the Internet helped a lot too, according to game designer Patrick Plourde: "In a few minutes you can check on a detail that would have taken much longer before."

Details are as lifelike as possible, from the clothes of passers-by to the weapons used by guards or the walk-on parts - which include the politician Cesare Borgia, the philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci.

But the developers take liberties with history too - as with the roof of Saint Peter's Basilica which was not yet under construction at the time the game is set.

"We tried to do without it, but no one recognised the building," said Mohammed Gambouz, creative director for the game at Ubisoft's Montreal studios.

"As soon as we added it, people looked and said, 'Ah! Now you can tell it's Rome'."

Likewise the Roman arches shown in the virtual city are all identical. "We mixed up several arches to create a single one - that doesn't exist for real," said Gambouz.

The developers also played with building proportions to make the game's environment visually coherent.

In its virtual Rome, the Sant'Angelo castle towers over the city. Opposite, the Colosseum is outlined against the horizon and the player has to gain access to the amphitheatre to complete part of his mission.

But the Colosseum was scaled down to a quarter of its real size, while the Arch of Constantine was left proportionally larger - "so it did not look ridiculous in comparison," explained Pontbriand.

At the time, the fourth-century arch had yet to be restored following damage from an earthquake - but to the knowledgeable eye, the arch's shape has clearly been stretched, from elliptical to circular.

"We designed three different versions of the monument," said Gambouz. "We finally went with this one because of physical constraints linked to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360."

The fifth instalment of the blockbuster franchise, "Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood" is being released on November 16 in North America for both videogame consoles, and two days later in Europe.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Agile Tester

    £28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

    Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

    SAP BW BO

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

    Recruitment Resourcer

    £18000 - £22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Recruitment Resour...

    Day In a Page

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on