A Historical Deconstruction of Assassin’s Creed 2

30 Mar

Exploring the vastness of Italy in Assassin’s Creed 2, players find themselves noticing various famous landmarks riddling the landscape. In Florence, you are greeted by the Ponte Vecchio, the Santa Maria Novella, the magnificent Santa Maria del Fiore, the unforgettable Piazza della Signoria, however; the mind-blowingly accurate architecture is not limited to Fierenze. Taking Ezio through Tuscany and Venice, San Gimignano and Forli, you will find that many of the in-game structures are real-world architectural masterpieces.  As incredible as this may seem, the precision of these landscapes is only one facet of Assassin’s Creed 2 that maintains some sense of historical accuracy for not only is Renaissance Italy remembered by its architecture, but also the family feuds of the time—most notably of them being between the Medici and the Pazzi.

Detest between the Madici and Pazzi families were the result of the power struggle for dominant influence in Florentine politics. To understand this struggle, one must first recognize the two families for what they were. The Medici family was relatively new to the Florentine society and politics, yet they had money to lend, alliances through marriage, and a vast social network. These factors allowed for the family to become the dominating banking powerhouse of Tuscany and gain influence within the Roman Catholic Church which, during the Renaissance era, played a major role in politics itself. This newfound power gave rise to a natural rivalry between them and the Pazzi family, whose roots were deeply entrenched in Florence well before the presence of the Medici.

This rivalry would later reach its apogee when the Pazzi and Salviati families manufactured a conspiracy for the assassination of Lorenzo di Medici and his brother, Giuliano Medici. Their plan was to be carried out on April 26, 1478 while High Mass was taking place at the Duomo. Overall the attempt failed and resulted with the death of Giuliano, the execution of the conspirators, and the banishment of the Pazzi family from the city of Florence.  With that banishment, all Pazzi family assets were seized and all remaining traces of the family were both forbidden and destroyed. It is with this conspiracy the developers of Assassin’s Creed 2 created such a brilliant adaptation of Italian history.

Throughout the game, the Pazzi conspiracy is reenacted with identical characters from real-world history, however; in order to provide a more complete story and gaming experience, the developers of Assassin’s Creed 2 allowed for a few historical inaccuracies. For instance, the game allows for the plotters to seek refuge in Tuscan. Furthermore, in the game Baroncelli is killed by Ezio in the city of San Gimignario after a failed escape from Constantinople whereas in reality he did attempt escape but was caught and hanged in Florence. Following the Pazzi conspiracy in Assassin’s Creed 2, the game tends more towards fiction and consequently becomes less concerned with historical accuracy. It is an adaptation, after all, not a textbook.

Evaluating Assassin’s Creed 2 as such, the developers of the game have done a magnificent job meshing history and fiction into a virtual medium, effectively creating something that gamers have never experienced before. The game is truly a staple of pop culture, justifying its value with its rich historical flavors. It is in my hopes that Ubisoft will continue to release titles like Assassin’s Creed 2 so that society may begin to appreciate all that video games have to offer; an interactive and immersifying experience that, in this case, allows the player to relive history.          

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