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Feature: 'Game Culture Vultures - Parkour'

In the latest Gamasutra feature, columnist Andy Robertson looks at how Assassin's Creed and Crackdown were inspired by the free running sport Parkour
Games often take inspiration from real world trends, behaviors and activities, drawing on their mechanics and cultural references. Assassin's Creed and Crackdown were inspired by the sport of Parkour -- but do they do it justice? How authentic are they? Though columnist Andy Robertson notes that Assassin's Creed's Parkour influences are numerous, he sees a shortcoming: "Although a confident outing (and many people's definitive Parkour game) Assassin's Creed still held back from rewarding the player for elegance. The player is encouraged to focus on competition and speed rather than the graceful flowing movement. The player employs free running to travel through the environment and escape pursuers in a decidedly competitive manner, something that is at odds to the fundamentals of Parkour." Some people might not be aware of Parkour's influences on Crackdown, but the developers described it as Parkour-inspired in one of their development diaries. Says Robertson: "The player starts the game being able to pull off simple moves. He or she can hang off the odd balcony or jump up to a nearby room, but anything more substantial is unobtainable. These limited abilities mean that any ascent to free running is stuttering and haphazard at best. The player is not able to long string together many jumps or grabs. However, as the game develops and the player's agility increases the game hits a sweet point where the Parkour mechanic shines through. The longer jumps and grabs acquired by collecting the agility orbs enable the player to develop a free running repertoire with landings, cat-balances, tic tacs and monkey vaults." You can now read the full feature, which examines these games' successes and failures as cultural successors to the Parkour movement (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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