Assassin’s Creed: Unity has come under a lot of criticism, mostly for glitches and bugs. However, its latest critique isn’t about the quality of the game, but its presentation of the revolutionaries, and it’s coming from a major French politician.
Former French minister, Jean-Luc Mélenchon who is also the leader of the Left Party (and came fourth in the presidential race in 2012), has spoken out against Ubisoft’s interpretation of Unity’s period in history. According to Mélenchon, the game feeds on the anti-republican sentiment that fuels far-right extremists of today. In a “lengthly tirade” with France Inter radio (translated by The Telegraph), the French politician calls Unity propaganda against the people:
It is propaganda against the people, the people who are (portrayed as) barbarians, bloodthirsty savages. […] In 1789 there were the poor aristocrats, and they are presented as fine upstanding people.[…] And the man who was our liberator at a certain moment of the Revolution – because the Revolution lasted a long time – Robespierre, is presented as a monster.
He even goes so far as to say that Unity “presents an image of hatred of the Revolution, hatred of the people, hatred of the republic which is rampant in the far-right milieux (of today).”
Robespierre is a controversial figure in general. While he is seen as one of the fathers of modern democracy, opposing the death penalty and slavery while advocating equal rights and universal suffrage, those are not the traits for which he is best known. Following the fall of the monarchy in France, there was still war and civil war, requiring a stable government. Despite not seeking a position of power, Robespierre was elected to the Committee of General Security and began to manage the country’s internal police. This period became known as the Reign of Terror, primarily due to Robespierre’s ideal of a virtuous terror – be believed that terror was necessary during revolution to ensure virtue, to reveal the true enemies within. While Mélenchon may choose to focus on the positive aspects of Robespierre, this isn’t by any means a universal view.
I’m glad that Ubisoft’s game is getting this kind of attention. Robespierre is a controversial figure, and even if a French politician doesn’t agree with his depiction, it means that the game and the period in history will get more attention. It just goes to show that the recreation of the period is accurate enough in other ways to be seen as history instead of pure entertainment and is a credit to Ubisoft’s designers.
Last Updated: November 18, 2014