My journey began at 5 in the morning. I awake and prepare to embark on what promises to be one of the most exciting days of my life—meeting Jade Raymond and playing Assassin’s Creed. Eight long hours later and the full reality and anticipation got the best of me. I walked down the bright and colourful corridors of the Aldwych Hotel, and was told to proceed downstairs to the basement where I was, to my disbelief, met by a human Altair dressed in authentic clothing, complete with a set of weapons.
As I walked through the door the sound of swords clashing and people talking rained from the basement room and really set the mood for what was about come. I entered and jumped straight on an Xbox 360 console as a huge smile crept across my face — this has been my dream since Ubisoft announced Assassin’s Creed back in 2004. After ten fantastic minutes of instruction from the Community Manager at Ubisoft, Chris Easton, Producer Jade Raymond called us in to the presentation room and began her briefing. She apologized for the ‘boring’ PowerPoint presentation showcasing Ubisofts facts and figures, but we all used it as an opportunity to stare at her!
As the lights dimmed, we were then treated to an Xbox 360 Live Demonstration showing off interactive cut-scenes, new moves and breathtaking visuals. The mission demonstrated took place in the beautiful city of Acre and began with a number of guards pushing back the crowd to protect Richard the Lionheart as he comes out to have an ‘exchange of words’ with William de Montferrat. You’ll be able to move around the crowd as the cut-scene progresses. Once this has finished, it’s time for you to make your way in to the heavily guarded fortress.
Assassin’s Creed boasts total freedom, go anywhere, anytime, anyhow, and it doesn’t disappoint. During the year 1191AD the castle was undergoing maintenance and repairs. Depending on your preference, you can use these half-constructed buildings as your cover as you approach your target. Alternatively, you can simply blend in with the crowd and walk right through the front door. Once inside the castle walls, you’ll need to make your way to William de Monferrat and assassinate him. An Ubisoft representative took to the roof tops which were guarded by armed guards, equipped his throwing knifes and launched one with pinpoint accuracy taking the soldier down hard and fast. This alerted another guard who was dealt with in the same professional manner.
He then made his way across the roof, jumping, bouncing and grabbing his way closer to the target. Once in range we eves dropped on the conversation; William telling off his men for not doing their jobs properly, but instead of punishing his troops he decides to make an example of a simple civilian. This is where you come in as you hover above, equipped with your mechanical dagger which can be concealed during interaction with crowds. Jade looks across and signals for her Ubisoft colleague to complete his assignment. What followed was a hard combo even for an experienced gamer, judging the right moment to attack so that the offence cannot be blocked. Altair’s poised and then pounces, flying through the air. William didn’t stand a chance as the cold metal of Altair’s blade slid into his body. After each main assassination a cut-scene will be shown explaining more of the story, but this was quickly skipped not to ruin the full retail version.
Then the fun began; Altair was outnumbered, surrounded and cut off. He counters a few attacks, killing a couple of guards with merciless conviction but has no choice other than to make a run for it. By holding down the Right Trigger and the A button, you send Altair free jumping across the city, being chased by just about everyone. On-looking civilians watch in awe as you make your way through the dusty, crowd ridden streets – forcing you to take to the roofs to escape and evade the enemy. Once on the rooftops, Altair runs out of places to jump to. He takes a glimpse back, guards climbing up ladders and other objects and this is where Ubisoft displays their favourite move – the ‘Leap of Faith’. Altair leaps off the building, and lands himself in a pile of hay as the guards run straight past him, unaware of his presence. Safe!
Jade thanks us for watching this Live Demonstration and invites us to continue playing Assassin’s Creed ourselves, which of course we do.
Assassin’s Creed features three living and breathing cities;
These all add up to one huge kingdom. The latest build of Assassin’s Creed takes place in the beautiful city Damascus. The city is colourful and full with guards, thieves, traders and much more.
The graphics featured in Assassin’s Creed are stunning, from the amazing character designs and building textures down to the cobbled streets. The entire game really does reek of next-generation console gaming. The animation is also formidable, but let’s put it in perspective: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time had 850 animations … AC has over 10,000 animations! This amazing fact really shows, from hundreds of counter-attacks to unauthentic free-jumping, right down to the level of detail in the characters subtle movements.
Ubisoft are going for an ‘Organic Design’ (more commonly known to you and me as ‘common sense’ design) when it comes to controls. They don’t want the gamer to think about jumping or fighting, they want it to be so intuitive that you’ll be able to do it in your sleep, and they seem to have achieved this. After a 20-30 minute learning curve, I found myself slicing and dicing my way through the game without even thinking, and creating some truly spectacular moves.
I had the chance to play Assassin’s Creed on both Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3, but in my opinion the game plays best on Xbox 360, with a crisper frame-rate and more detailed environments. The Xbox 360 controller, as said so many times before by reviewers, is built for gaming. Switching between weapons, free-running and interaction was intuitive, while Sony’s controller was a bit more of a chore. I was constantly having problems during combat as the buttons were not in a fluid position to pull off special combination moves.
The sound in Assassin’s Creed is truly amazing, rich and detailed – from the constant chanting of sellers to the metal on metal sounds of swords colliding with immense force. Customisation isn’t a big part of Assassin’s Creed, although you can customize your HUD to turn on/off GPS, Health, Ammo, Weapon Selector, creating a full cinematic experience if you prefer that kind of thing.
Ubisoft have confirmed that there are no plans for Downloadable Content on any of the platforms, but at the same time, they didn’t rule it out. Ubisoft have also confirmed that Assassin’s Creed will not feature multiplayer game-modes, but don’t let that dishearten you as this is one hell of a single-player game!
Understandably, we could not obtain any more insight in to the main storyline of Assassin’s Creed, but we’ve been assured that all will be revealed within the first 30 seconds of gameplay.
Coming out of this presentation, the words ‘groundbreaking’ and ‘fully absorbing’ came to mind. Assassin’s Creed looks set to be a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying experience, and one I look forward to re-experiencing when Assassin’s Creed is made available to the general public on November 16th 2007.