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The Top 7… historically inaccurate historical games

2. Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War

Admittedly, we’re no scholars when it comes to the Hundred Years’ War, the long  series of conflicts between France and England that took up most of the 14th and 15th centuries. And when Koei tackled the conflict, we expected the usual dose of anachronistic, Dynasty Warriors-style goofiness it brings to historical warfare.


Above: JOAN OF ARC WITH LONG HAIR HERP DERP

Maybe we were wrong to expect that it would otherwise try to present the subject matter at least somewhat realistically, but we can’t help but think that shoehorning camels, ninjas and elephants into a medieval European war might have stretched our disbelief just a hair too far.


Above: It could have happened, but… no. No, it really couldn’t have

1. Shadow of Rome

Where to even begin with this one? Like Saboteur, nobody really played Shadow of Rome to get an accurate historical picture of its time period; they played it because it let players hack off an enemy’s arm and beat him to death with it. So we’re not going to pick it apart for its utterly bizarre depictions of Roman gladiatorial combat and battlefield tactics (although those deserve to be pointed out). Even without them, though, it takes such enormous liberties with Roman history – fairly well-known Roman history, at that – that we feel compelled to call it on its bullshit.

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR A SIX-YEAR-OLD GAME FOLLOW

Shadow begins with, and revolves around, the murder of Julius Caesar, which for the purposes of storytelling the game turns into a murder mystery. After returning from war against a Germanic chieftain named Barca (who may have been named for Hannibal Barca of Carthage, an entirely different sort of enemy), hero Marcus Agrippa sees his father framed for the murder. Agrippa then does what any sensible citizen of Rome would, and goes into hiding as a gladiator until such time as the murder can be solved. This he leaves to his young friend Octavian, who quickly discovers that the real killer was the cartoonishly evil Decius Brutus, acting on orders from Antonius (aka Mark Antony, Caesar’s right-hand man).


Above: "Can I trust you to solve this mystery, Teenage Friend?"

The thing is, Caesar’s real assassination was notable in part because it took place in public, in broad daylight. Figuring they’d be hailed as tyrant-slaying heroes of the republic, Caesar’s multiple killers made no attempt to hide their identities. They certainly didn’t frame Agrippa’s dad for the crime, and their machinations weren’t deftly uncovered through the efforts of Octavian (himself better known as Augustus Caesar, future emperor or Rome and calculating little shit). And Antony, rather than directing the conspirators, helped drive them out of Rome and later crushed their attempts at rebellion.


Above: Historians would probably also have some choice words about whatever this is

So why, then, does the game end with Agrippa killing Antonius? Because in real life, Antony and Octavian were locked in a power struggle that ended with Antony fleeing to Egypt, pursued by Octavian’s invading army. There, he and Cleopatra famously committed suicide rather than face the capture and subsequent brutal humiliation Octavian had in store for them. The story was simplified to cut out the intervening years of backstabbing and political maneuvering, but the end result was a messy misrepresentation of pretty much every real person and event involved.

Sep 12, 2011

The Top 7… Historical figures defamed by games
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Because some things can't be faked

Hitler's greatest hits
DID SOMEONE SAY "HISTORY!?"

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64 comments

  • screwball08247 - September 17, 2011 12:42 p.m.

    I love when Mikel does historical articles, they're always a great read.
  • therawski - September 16, 2011 3:13 p.m.

    Current Affair Sound FXs!!! Great article wikiparez, but what about the guerrilla factions fighting for freedom on mars!?
  • evillibrarian - September 15, 2011 4:42 p.m.

    I don't think The Saboteur belongs on this list. It's clearly a pulp piece and, unlike Assassin's Creed, doesn't attempt to present any part of itself as fact. It'd be like putting "Inglorious Basterds" on a "Least Historically Accurate WWII Movie" list...if that makes sense, at all. My two cents!
  • CitizenWolfie - September 15, 2011 2:09 a.m.

    It's not the historical inaccuracies in Assassin's Creed that I find hard to believe - it's the fact that you can kill major religious leaders in view of 100 guards. And they can then forget what you - visibly armed to the teeth, conspicuously running around on rooftops, mysterious hooded figure in suspiciously bloody but otherwise more extravagant garments than the entire population - look like after "blending" into a crowd. Man I love Assassin's Creed.
  • CitizenWolfie - September 15, 2011 2:12 a.m.

    Oh wait, that's pretty much exactly what the article says. Facepalm at myself.
  • Kovitlac - September 14, 2011 5:58 a.m.

    I have to chuckle at the inclusion of Assassin's Creed. Even reading the article, the first thing I thought was, "damn, the assassins in-game certainly sound a LOT like the real-life Hashashins!" Who cares if they didn't escape in the same exact manner? That's seriously the biggest historical blunder in the game? As far as games as a whole are concerned, AC is 'extremely' aware of it's historical accuracy. I know this is meant to be a 'fun' article - I'm certainly not enraged or anything. But I am surprised that AC was mentioned at all. Hell, even the article stated that 'Nothing is True - Everything is Permitted' WAS EVEN USED IN REAL LIFE O.o If anything, I'd expect that to be the biggest embellishment.
  • SolidEye - September 14, 2011 2:29 a.m.

    You forgot pretty much every game with ninjas in it. (With Tenchu maybe being the exception). They weren't just assassins, they actually DID ninjutsu. Not the karate/somersaulting crap we see in most portrayal of them in most media.
  • quincytheodore - September 13, 2011 8:25 p.m.

    Ah Shadow of Rome, where the mighty Roman soldiers fell for banana peel, many of them... I like the game though, its Salvo mechanism was like mini-achievement, rewarding players for creative murders with in-game applause. Slash off an enemy's arm, broke the other one, stalked him until he peed, finish him off with horizontal slash a from massive weapon, literally cutting him in half, geyser of blood ensued while his top half flew, then picked up his limb and yelled to the crow. YYaaayy~~!! How many games let you do that?
  • D0CCON - September 13, 2011 5:31 p.m.

    Great history lesson, bro.
  • Money - September 13, 2011 5:14 p.m.

    I totally remember hearing about the chimera attacking us in 1950
  • ObliqueZombie - September 13, 2011 4:57 p.m.

    Mikel, you're too smart. Get off here, so I feel less dumb. Also: FanTASTIC article. I learned a lot, and enjoyed it. This is, arguably, the most "intelligent" article on this site. Plus, you used Wikipedia. You're my hero. Keep up the good work!
  • Guinnessmonkey - September 13, 2011 4:18 p.m.

    Guess the Templars got to GR....
  • EBAX1 - September 13, 2011 4 p.m.

    I remember Bladestorm, I didnt think anyone else had ever played it. That game is awesome, Controlling a pack of elephants to mow down thousands of enemy soldiers may not have been realistic, but it was fun as hell
  • DaveGoose - September 13, 2011 3:13 p.m.

    Great Top 7 Mr. Raparaz!
  • UsernameLoser - September 13, 2011 2:50 p.m.

    GR IS IN CAHOOTS WITH CAPCOM. HOW COULD YOU NOT MENTION MEGAMAN. IT TOOK PLACE AT SOME POINT IN THE LAST DECADE.
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - September 13, 2011 2:43 p.m.

    This is really interesting, I had no idea that the Assassin's were like that.
  • IChooseUAntistaMON - September 13, 2011 1:36 p.m.

    Didn't you already do this?

Showing 1-20 of 64 comments

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