Maximize your strength training routine by cutting out these time wasters.Read article
Assassin’s Creed is an insanely popular video game series, due mostly to its reputation for breaking new ground on combat mechanics and movement through an open world. Back when Assassin’s Creed Unity was about to launch, M&F traveled to the Ubisoft offices in Montreal for an in-depth look at the character creation, world-building and motion-capture processes that bring together the player experience. We learned what type of physicality the creative team pinpointed to build the perfect Assassin, from the natural and trained abilities of the character, to balancing the look of the player, and even recruiting the right athletes and actors to capture the motion that translates to the screen.
From there, we built a tailored workout that, in an alternate universe of pixels and spring-loaded wrist knives, could be used to train an ideal member of the Brotherhood. That workout still holds up as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey hits consoles everywhere on Oct. 2, 2018. Rooted in parkour training and climbing strength, this six-day routine is built as a love letter to the Assassin’s Creed series, but also helps fuel that secret desire to don the cowl.
First we spoke to Assassin’s Creed Unity’s art director, Mohamed Gambouz, who leads the team that not only defines the vision of the game, but also people who inhabit its world. Gambouz has worked on previous AC games in addition to games in the Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia and Rayman series.
“The physicality is key to our main character, and he’s key to the gameplay,” Gambouz says. “He needs to be athletic, he needs to look athletic. Any costume we give him needs to showcase that athletic aspect, and fits better with what people expect from a guy who does free running and moves on the architecture on the environments. From there we add what’s iconic about an Assassin: the hood, the red belt, the white costume; so it’s a combination between different layers that helps us to convey all these aspects of the character.”
As for that physicality, they look to the real world for inspiration.
“We take a lot of references from parkour athletes,” Gambouz explains. “It makes [the characters] more believable and we try to follow that same kind of silhouette and build for the models.”
From the art process, the animation team takes over and builds the movements, dimensions and physics of the character. The standard Assassin stands at about 5’11” weighing in at an agile but strong 175 pounds. To capture the movements, the animation team hires motion capture stunt actors that perform the moves you see in the game.
Mike Mennillo is the animation director for AC Unity, who underscores the importance of parkour training.
“In the beginning of the series, the parkour was very basic and over the years we’ve tried to increase what we can do without jumping the shark. We don’t want him to do a triple axle, flip, then land on his toes. We don’t want to do that. We still want to keep it realistic.”
As for the strength of the character, one question was what an Assassin would target in a modern world.
“Probably upper-body strength, because he can leap nine meters in front of him and 12 meters down, and catch onto a rock with one hand and not break his entire body,” Mennillo says.
And of course, legs.
“Assassins don’t skip leg day,” Mennillo jokes. “They do a lot of leg training; we have a lot of stuff with the whole wall climbing system, the whole leaping and grabbing objects to swing. It’s very intensive so they need upper body strength, but the biggest thing—because they’re always jumping, they need the grip and the legs.
With that in mind, this workout is custom-tailored to any aspiring Assassin. Try it for a week and see if you’re ready to join the Brotherhood.
Day 1: 6 minutes of quadrupedal movement, such as bearcrawling.
As many rounds as possible (AMRAP) in 10 minutes.
Day 2: 6 minutes of jumping jacks (3 min.) and high knees running (3 min.) Perform circuit-style, moving from exercise to exercise without rest. Rest 1-2 minutes between circuits.
Day 3: Between exercises, perform 12 strict pull-ups. If you can do more than 12, use a weight vest to increase resistance.
Day 4: 6 minutes of split jumping jacks (2 min.), hip circles (2 min.) and shoulder circles (2 min.). Complete all reps in this order
Day 5: 8 minutes of jogging, working on braided steps and backward running. Perform circuit-style, four times through, in as little time as possible.
Day 6: Between exercises, perform 12 dips. If you can do more than 12, use a weight vest to increase resistance.