Editor’s note: Rob Dwiar is a garden designer, landscape architect, horticulturist and writer who regular Eurogamer readers may remember for his analysis of The Witcher 3, Mass Effect and Dishonored, his essay on the genius of Rapture and his thoughts on the close quarters of Dead Space, Metro, The Last of Us and Oblivion. Now, to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of Assassin’s Creed, Dwiar takes a closer look at Ubisoft’s remarkable recreation of Renaissance Italy, and finds there’s more than meets the eye.
Since it began 10 years ago, Assassin’s Creed has captured imaginations with secret organisations, myths and mysteries, but also made great swathes of history accessible. Being able to explore and interact with places and people of the past has promoted an appreciation of history, down to the features, elements and facets of life of that time, such as historical politics and power struggles, mythologies, social structures and people, and architecture and design. These elements of historical presentation give Assassin’s Creed games and their environments great depth and sense of place and act as environmental guides and markers. Arguably, none were better than Ezio Auditore’s Renaissance Italy, which had places that went beyond ‘great recreations’. While spaces such as town squares, gardens and designed landscapes were fun elements of the landscape fabric to explore and parkour across, they often demonstrated distinct design trends and techniques of the time, while maintaining their in-game ability to act as narrative exaggerators, theme reflectors and design-centred, geographic markers and navigators, all of which served to enhance our experience.Florence is oft cited as the birthplace of the Renaissance, and one particular family embraced this through design. The infamous Medici family was one of the most powerful and important in the region (clearly highlighted in the games), and were not shy about ostentatiously displaying their wealth, power or influence and made sure to show it through their homes, grounds and gardens. At first glance, the Palazzo Medici in Florence is not overtly enormous or magnificent – at least from beyond its walls – but it is, and it is one of the few urban residences with a garden. What looks like a simple design actually has powerful themes running through it and is built for more than aesthetic pleasure.Read mor […]