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Assassin’s Creed Unity review-bombed — to praise Ubisoft’s Notre-Dame effort

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Here’s a story about review bombs but, for a change, it’s a nice one. The Steam community ganged up on Ubisoft this week, but this time, it was to cover Assassin’s Creed Unity in praise for the publisher’s efforts to help the restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris.

Earlier this week, Ubisoft made the PC version of Assassin’s Creed Unity free, and chipped in another €500,000 to rebuilding efforts for the 856-year-old Notre-Dame, whose roof and spire burned on Monday. The cathedral is a prominent landmark in Assassin’s Creed Unity’s French Revolution-era Paris, and Ubisoft made the game free so players could explore Notre-Dame (virtually) as it was before the conflagration.

The complimentary reviews are enough to take a game that has a “mixed” reputation (and, to be fair, deservedly so) among more than 17,000 user ratings, and give it a “very positive” reputation among 716 recent reviews. A look at the graph Steam provides shows a surge in positive remarks on April 16.

“Thanks Ubisoft & Assassin’s Creed Unity for giving us an opportunity to appreciate what Notre Dame used to be,” said one player. “God bless France.”

“I bought ACU months ago. I don’t mind,” read another. “Hope my money [is a] donation for Notre-Dame. Amen!” said another.

“Now Ubisoft just have to burn down a pyramid,” joked another, referring to Assassin’s Creed Origins), “and they will be making all the money in the world. RIP Notre-Dame.”

The “funny” reviews were actually funny, too. “Reconstruction of Notre-Dame,” one wag imagined. “Worker A: Do we need to build this catacomb? Worker B: I don’t know, Ubisoft painted it on the drawings.”

Assassin’s Creed Unity’s poor critical reception and bug-filled launch was enough to summon an apology from the time and put the annual series on hiatus for 2015. Ubisoft also offered free games and DLC to those who purchased one of its special editions or DLC season passes. Paris-based Ubisoft also ran into criticism from some French politicians for its negative depiction of Robespierre and sympathetic portrayal of Marie Antoinette.

That all seems forgiven now, in light of Ubisoft’s philanthropy. Steam has not, of course, flagged the game for “off-topic review activity” — as it did when angry users rushed Borderlands 2 to give Gearbox Software the finger over Borderlands 3 being a six-month exclusive on the Epic Games Store. When Steam identifies a game as getting review bombed, scores from that span are tossed out (unless the user sets a preference to include them).

Assassin’s Creed Unity may be claimed free on Uplay until April 25. If the spirit moves you, contributions to Notre-Dame’s rebuilding may be made to any of four foundations organizing the restoration. Nearly $1 billion has been pledged so far.

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may, 2019

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