Assassin’s Creed III Preview – Eurogamer Expo 2012
In the hubbub of the early access queue on the Friday of Eurogamer Expo this year Assassin’s Creed III was always high up my list for ‘want to play’. I’m not really sure why as I knew what was coming; a lot of the same as the previous titles but in a different setting with different protagonist – Connor. What am I saying, of course I knew why! I bloody love Assassin’s Creed.
There’s been no shortage of information, screenshots and trailers for the upcoming Assassin’s Creed III by Ubisoft. The story promises to carry on from Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, yet this time with a new hero – Connor; an American-Indian set in the American Civil War. This represents the biggest change to the series to date as we have all been used to our friends Altair and Ezio scouring the rooftops of renaissance Italy & Turkey. Assassin’s Creed III is set in the USA with a more rural feel, as we can expect to be hunting through forests and tundra-like environments, scaling cliffs and trees as well as walls and the odd woman wooed by your assassin charm.
One of the new features is the inclusion of naval battles and this was the first of two gameplay opportunities at Eurogamer Expo this year. Initially I had to get used to the Playstation controller as I am now a 360 man. This meant I was repeatedly bashing the wrong button on numerous occasions leading a Ubisoft employee to kindly tell me where I was going wrong. Embarrassed, I strived to take my rig of death into battle.
Sails unfurled I headed to the waypoint where I was to intercept another vessel with a view to capturing it. However, en route the weather took a turn for the worst as an ill-timed storm broke out over the seas, making the deep blue water a whole lot more treacherous and the deck of my ship mighty slippery. I was quickly on the tail of the vessel with sails fully furled when along came two other boats, hell bent on blowing me out of the water. Safe to say a mighty battle commenced.
There were a couple of choices of cannonball that I believe you unlock through the game. I used the standard cannonball to obliterate the defences of the two intercepting ships and, just about, destroyed them before they did me, although there was plenty of fire-dousing happening upon my deck! My chain-shot cannonball brought down the mast of the ship central to the mission. Once alongside the ship I had the option to board, which sparked a cut-scene showing that an assassin can also be a bad ass naval captain.
It took some getting used to – though I don’t doubt the full release will come with a tutorial to help you master you ship before going to war with it. The added aspect of bad weather made the scene all the more epic and life-like as waves were as huge as they should, be making manoeuvring as difficult as you could imagine. This won’t be many people’s cup of tea however – an assassin as a naval captain? We were introduced to boarding boats and taking them down in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood but now the extra step has been taken to fully control and wrestle the high seas. I enjoyed the experience of it but hope it doesn’t play too big a part in the game as I love the traditional skills of an assassin.
Once this run-through was completed I was then shown to the next series of screens where I could control Connor in his element as a true assassin. Again this is nothing new to what previous titles offered, but that’s why I love these games and would have been annoyed if there was too much change. I love the story and hope it continues in the same vein. We pick up as Connor trying to infiltrate a coastal stronghold without being detected – the best kind of mission. After assassinating a guard from the sea I quickly found myself scaling a cliff towards the settlement. The scaling of the cliff looked and felt great with Connor’s swift movement upwards noticeably smoother than previous titles.
My bonus objective was to assassinate three guards from a ledge, the first I dispatched at the top of my climb. The game then reminded me how to climb fast, sprint and jump from ledge to ledge – a good job as well as I was again using an unfamiliar (to me at least) Playstation controller. I was quickly jumping my way along rooftops and through open windows – a nice addition to the game. I hurdled through buildings and stealthily swung from chandelier to chandelier above some high ranking American officials, oblivious to my presence.
Eventually I found myself face to face with three guards who naturally thought they could take me. I quickly disposed of them with my tomahawk – a very satisfying tool for ending people. I recovered what I had come to find – some sort of map it seemed, before that settlement was rained on by cannonfire – apparently all part of my plan despite nearly dying on numerous occasions, all in a days work for an assassin. I proceeded my flight out of the camp through burning buildings, get too close to the flames and they will hurt you! Running and leaping off wooden slats was seamless as the camp fell around me. I found my way to the cliffs edge to dive down into the sea to return to my ship in glorious victory.
This hands-on experience really whet my appetite for the upcoming release. There was no insight into Desmond’s story – but I’m glad there wasn’t. Naval battles were fun but frustrating at times and will no doubt not be enjoyed but some fans of the series. The usual assassin feats looked impressive and were only a taste of things to come. The game looked fantastic on PS3 and will no doubt look just as good on 360 and capable PCs.
Personally, I can’t wait for this game. It’s scheduled for release October 31st for Xbox 360 & PS3 with PC release delayed to November. This year the game’s rated 18 – that may mean it sells less to the younger generation whilst promising us older folk that it’ll be the most brutal Assassin’s Creed to date.
Keep an eye out for The Game Jar’s single-player video interview on site soon.