Historical Gaming

In the video game industry today, history plays a vital role in the production of a game. Many industries have introduced historical characters or historical events in their games in order to create a more realistic feel.

History plays a huge role in video games, giving franchises such as “Call of Duty” or “Medal of Honor” the opportunity to use historical events in their games in order to create a realistic feel. Using “Call of Duty” as an example, the franchise’s has depicted World War II and the Cold War by using true historical events, such as the battle for Normandy in “Call of Duty 3” or the attempted assassination of Fidel Castro in “Call of Duty: Black Ops.”

Other franchises don’t only use history just for the setting; some use historical figures in order to become something known as historical fiction.

Historical fiction tells a story that is set in the past. The setting is real, drawn from history and often contains historical persons, but the principal characters and story tend to be fictional.

One of the first usages of a historical figure, and therefore historical fiction, in a video game can be attributed to Atlus’ use of Adolf Hitler in “Persona 2.” “Persona 2” was released in 1999 on the PlayStation, and used the infamous German leader as one of the game’s antagonist. In the game, Hitler didn’t perish at the end of World War II; instead, he escaped and is still alive in Antarctica, where he becomes a demon.

Hitler’s usage in video games doesn’t limit itself to “Persona 2,” as the notorious Nazi leader made appearances in many other games like “Wolfenstein,” where is assumes the role of Robo-Hitler.

The “Age of the Empire” series and the “Civilization” series use historical world leaders as well, such as Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth or Suleiman. In these games, the usage of such prominent figures gives the game a more realistic feel. Many of these leaders never faced each other in the heat of war; however, these games use historical fiction to make these battles happen.

The most widely known use of a historical figure in a video game is Ubisoft’s depiction of Leonardo Da Vinci in “Assassin’s Creed II.” In the game, Da Vinci was a helpful hand to Ezio in his quest to defeat the Templars. Instead of the old bearded artist we are used to, the game depicts him as the eager young inventor that he once was. In the game, Da Vinci provides Ezio with weapons and new inventions like his flying machine (a hang glider, which was one of Da Vinci’s inventions that was actually tried and tested). It was fun to interact with Da Vinci as you focused on saving Venice and other cities in Italy from falling to the Templars.

The Templars, as mentioned above, are a perfect example of historical fiction. The religious group wasn’t made up by Ubisoft. The Templars in Assassin’s creed don’t exist today, but during the Middle Ages, they were endorsed by the Catholic Church. The Templars were part of the Crusades and were created to act as a form of military for the church. Indeed, the Templars were among the most-skilled fighters in Europe. However, when the Holy Land was lost, support faded and the Templars created mistrust, leading to their disbandment.

The Templars, Da Vinci, and other historical figures that appear in the “Assassin’s Creed” series, such as Pope Alexander VI, differentiate the “Assassin’s Creed” series from any other. By creating historical fiction from historical characters we know makes the story more compelling and captivating, and you can bet that the next entry, “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations,” will do just that.

“Assassin’s Creed Revelations” will be set in Constantinople. The city, known as present day Istanbul, is yet another example of the use of historical setting in “Assassin’s Creed” after Jerusalem and Venice, among others. The game will see the end of the three-game storyline between Ezio and Altair.

Not much is known about the “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” story and what will happen to both Ezio and Altair. Still with the game taking place in the city of Constantinople, we can predict that a gigantic open environment for Ezio. Also a new trailer narrated by Prince Suleiman, who will seemingly be one of Ezio’s key allies, suggest that the Ottoman leader will be part of the game. There is no official news that confirm Suleiman will be part of “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations,” but the longest reigning sultan in Ottoman history will be in charge of Constantinople when we take Ezio through his final adventures.

What we do know is that there are new weapons and tools at your arsenal. The introduction of ziplines and bombs will give a breath of fresh air to the story mode; these won’t be the only new weapons or accessories at your disposal though.

The multiplayer mode though, has been divulged, and although the “Assassin’s Creed” Franchise might not seem like it’s suited for multiplayer gaming, Ubisoft is attempting to break this perspective. The game will introduce a new leveling up system fueled by experience that is earned throughout a match. There will also be more modes, more options and more customizations when it comes to the multiplayer experience. Players will be able to tweak their characters as they unlock new abilities, perks, streaks and armor.

“Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” will be the last game to feature Ezio at the forefront. It will also include Desmond and Altaïr from the first “Assassin’s Creed.” “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” will be out November 15th for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.