Assassin's Creed 2's Venice Photography

Updated: Sep 13


I finally get to talk

about this miraculous creation of a game! The second installment of this franchise is definitely worth playing, although is rather hit and miss with it's (aged) graphics and small maps. I primarily love exploring virtual Venice and taking in the atmosphere of the floating Italian city. The game does a good job at recreating the city at a smaller scale, featuring some recognisable locations and famous buildings. I only wish there was a full recreation of Venice in this game, as opposed to the watered down version. Was that a joke? I dunno.

After visiting the real place in 2022, I wanted to create a page comparing the locations between the game and real life, as I thought that'd be rather interesting. However, the game really doesn't focus on recreating Venice accurately. Therefore, instead of desperately trying to find the nearest simularities from every district, I'll just be comparing some of the most recognisable locations available, such as St. Mark's Square, Rialto Bridge and the district of San Polo. I also want to keep this short and just talk about the game itself.

 

St Mark's Square Compared to Real Life

Above, we can see the distant island of San Giorgo Maggiore, where the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore's tower can be seen overlooking the lagoon. In game, the tower does not resemble a likeness to the real variant, which I think is a bit weird, because the tower is more (or less) similar to St. Mark's Campanile in design, so the developers could have easily copy and pasted it as so. The island is also closer to the island of Giudecca, making it look as if it is closer than it should be, removing the island's quirkiness. The photos are taken on the gondola ports opposite Doge's Palace.

After doing a 180 degree turn, the powerful view of both the palace and tower can be seen without taking many steps forward. Both images look very similar, however it's more evident how scaled down the game can be when seeing the smaller gap between buildings. But I have to say, it's not too bad and the game somewhat benefits from this, since Ezio is required to escape form guards a lot. Having a larger area would complicate any routes of escape, when (really) the player would rather climb to escape. Verticality is always a focus in these older games after all.

Oddly, there's a slight bit extra detail on the palace in game, or is that just me seeing that? I see some stylistic differences at least. The tower is sadly less elegant in agme, and looks a bit off. There's something about the scaling that doesn't look right. Then, there's obviously the poles which ruin the view, which aren't visible in real life. Thank God for that, otherwise I'd have been there for ages trying to get a great picture from that angle.

One other major difference; is the lack of the Archangle Gabriel Weather Vane Statue at the very top. I understand there were a few different versions placed there throughout time, so why wasn't there any added to this game? Who knows.

Looking up from the same spot, the famous statues (Colonna di San Todaro and Colonna di San Marco) can be seen looming over, as if they are guarding the square from any threats. The game surprisingly stays faithful to how they look in real life. I even took a zoomed in photo of one of them, but I wasn't able to do the same in game sadly. Still, pretty cool!





Disappointingly, inside St. Mark's Campanile, otherwise known as St. Mark's Tower, is completely different to it's real life counterpart. It was really cramped, and busy, inside the tower so taking picture of the interior was difficult. But I saw a collection of hanging bells above me, diamond pattern flooring and a structure (for the lift) in the centre. The game loses all of this detail in favour of a clean, open space for Ezio to walk, but the main issue is the incredibly small scale of the interior which just makes climbing the tower seem pointless

The entrance to the square is very different. In reality, there's no bridge leading to it, but instead many shops and no sign of water unless you were to walk around a few corners. As established already, Assassin's Creed II is very scaled down, so the square itself is remarkable smaller, and quicker to walk around. In real life, it's spectacle is easy to admire. However, I appreciate the palace remaining large and imposing in both versions.

Admittedly, I didn't expect the game to copy the exact same art painted on the side of St. Mark's Basilica, as that'd be an idiotic thought. However, from what I could see in game, the art takes clear inspiration, but offers something to fit in with the art style of the game itself, which I prefer. At least the in game art is visible to the player. In real life, I had to use my zoom to take that picture. The artwork isn't as easily visible otherwise.

 

Rialto Bridge Compared to Real Life

An amazing detail included in the game is the construction of the world famous bridge, the Rialto Bridge. I'm not sure how accurate the wooden variant looks to how it would in reality

(at the time), but I must say it's awesome to view nonetheless. Even walking across it is iconic in the game, since it stands out from the rest of the environment.

The real Rialto Bridge is awesome to walk over, since it offers really grand views from both sides. Not to emntion, it's also got some width to it. There's 3 lanes to it, with shops being placed in the centre lane. The game doesn't feature these 3 lanes, and obviously there's no shops to be seen, but it shares an impressive view from the south west side of the bridge. Granted, the real view is dazzlingly beautiful, but the virtual view offered at least has large ships to spruce up the view. The still, reflective water is also ane eye catcher in game, while gondolas float below the player. It's pretty cool, but far from the real life counterpart.


The opposite side of Rialto Bridge was always the more boring side, always attracting less tourists, but was still pretty to look at nonetheless. Surprisingly, the scale is similar in both versions, but the game adds more visible detail into the background, since the additional towers are intended to be used for mission purposes and level design. It's dissapointing to see the lack of colour in the game, when the real photo displays at least a yellow painted building which stands out. The game could have taken a bit more inspiration from the real venice, but it will always be sad seeing a mundane, muddy colour scheme on the buildings in game when I know the game could have looked a lot better with added colour.

 

Without mentioning any comparisons to the real Venice, I have to say Assassin's Creed II's version of the metropolitan city is full of charm and always fun to navigate around. It's a brilliant area to free run, jumping from building rooftops to escape pursuing guards and completing missions. Again, it'll always be disappointing to see a lack of colour on the buildings, but the fact Ubisoft took the time to replicate the city on a smaller scale is pretty noteworthy. Of the landmarks included, I knew where to find them and it's awesome seeing them.

I'd love to see a a title in the series take place in Venice again, but feature the multiple islands as playable areas. Burano would be awesome to visit, with it's incredibley well decorated houses, as an example.

Assassin's Creed II will always be a favourite of mine, but I will always be craving to play in a more realistic Venice. I haven't played the remaster, but I imagine it won't differ much compared to the original.