Going into E3, Assassin’s Creed 3 was one of my most anticipated games but I had no Ubisoft appointments nor an invite to their press conference and I thought that my chances of getting into the theater presentation were pretty slim. The persistent line for the show reinforced this greatly. As luck would have it, my feet are swift I am crafty and I was able to get a great spot in line at the opening of day 3. Also, my bid to get a ticket to Resident Evil 6 failed and I was right there. At any rate, I managed to see the 20 minute presentation and I loved what I saw.
For the uninitiated, this third installment jumps to the 1700′s to the time before, during and after the American Revolution. This time, you are going into the memories of Connor Kenway, a half English/half Mohawk man as he fights back against colonists who attack his home. The story spans 30 years of his life from 1753 to 1783 and he gets himself involved with historical figures of the time in the same way that previous characters have, this time our forefathers like Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Paul Revere and Samuel Adams amongst many others.
The first demo we were shown took place in the winter of 1776 in the frontier. AC3 boasts a fairly huge amount of wilderness to interact with and as such there was some concern going in that this would eschew typical AC game play given the lack of buildings and towers to climb around on. Thankfully in this case the wilderness is densely wooded and the trees and rocks provide Connor with plenty of things to climb and traverse.
Much like roof tops in previous games, traveling in the tree branches is much safer mode of transport than the ground but this time it isn’t just guards you have to worry about. Wildlife is prevalent in the environment and wolf attacks are a very real possibility, particularly if you have killed a dear for food. To handle the unique demands of this sort of locomotion, the way Connor moves and climbs has been updated. His movements looked much more fluid than in previous games but the terrain still creates unique obstacles for Connor getting around. The snow can slow him down and rocks can cause a stumble. Luckily, AI controlled enemies have the same deficits when navigating the terrain so at least the whole thing is balanced.
In addition to the new terrain, the things that go on around him are a bit more dynamic and progresses as if he is not there. Connor is concerned mostly with the conflict with the Templars and largely ignores the goings on in the war. Still, the war goes on around him and the demo showed a troop movement and battle going on as Connor sneaked by.
When Connor does find himself in the midst of conflict, the fights take place in a similar way to previous games with an emphasis put on countering but some new additions here make things a bit more interesting. For one, you know have the option for a running kills that take advantage of the new locomotion systems. Beyond that, Connor has several items he can use in combat in addition to weapons that gives him more options not only for stealth kills but also one on one and group fights as well. On of this is a rope spike which can allow Connor to grab someone and drag him in for the kill like some sort of revolutionary war version of Scorpion. The rope dart will also allow him to grab a guy and hang him with it on a tree branch.
The next demo we saw was Boston, one of the two reproduced cities here (the other is New York). The city was of course designed according to how the city looked at that time based off of original city maps. The red brick architecture looked fantastic and had a completely different feel than the architecture from the previous games. These buildings bring the proceedings back in line with the game play of previous titles but with twists and tweaks all their own. Hay is still a favorite hiding place but in AC3 the hay is in moving carts which provides mobile hiding places you can jump in and out of on the fly as well as killing targets while on the move. The game also offers improved blending and environment sensitive assassinations. Assassin’s Creed 3 releases October 30th on PS3, Xbox and PC.