Welcome to Art Examination! A video series that explores video games as an art form with MissBiankadonk, professional gameplay animator and part-time streamer.
In this instalment she will be looking at Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Unity, the eighth installment in the popular series, and its use of photorealism.
“There is a term I will use confidently in this video to describe the game and that is photorealism. As the name suggests, this is art that looks as real as a photo. Where normally photorealistic art is accomplished via acrylics or oil paintings, this subject matter; 18th century revolutionary France; has been done justice via the medium of videogames. And for two majors reasons. Texturing and details.
My first impressions of Assassin’s Creed Unity saw me focus specifically on the in game textures. These textures are ultimately what helps transport the player to the 18th century, and are half of the formula that transforms this game into a piece of art. Every item, every piece, every texture detail feels like it’s meant to be there, that is has lived there and that it will die there. These textures are what transported the player to the 18th century. Photorealism involves replicating something to the utmost degree, painting a picture in time if you will. Without the detail of these textures, the life in these textures, the game wouldn’t be as gorgeous and immersive as it is.
The second half of the formula is attention to detail; arguably the more important of the two. Nowadays, details make games. Replicating what 300 year old conditions would have been like isn’t just a technical achievement but artwork. It means flooding the streets with revolutionists in front of the royal palace. It means accurately showing off the aristocratic high life against the backdrop of the slum like conditions of the lower classes.
If the textures and the details weren’t enough to amaze, then the sheer size of the content will definitely impress. This is a living, breathing version of France as it was back then. The streets are filled with people. So many people. All going about their daily lives, trying to survive. An in game version of France so detailed. So vast. So photoreal.”