Hat’s off to Ubisoft for allowing what I consider to be one the best thought out demo opportunities of the entire expo. Everyone who wanted to got to play an entire mission, taking as much time as they want.
The mission itself was set in a stone fort occupied by the British colonial forces during the American War for Independence. Your objective was to retrieve a map fragment hidden within the fort’s dungeon, with all that climby, swingy, running-ny, sneaky stabbiness you should have come to expect from the Assassin’s Creed series. Graphically, the game was impressive, the gloomy interior well realised and as immersive as many a modern title. At one point during a typical get-the-f*ck-out-of-here sequence, the fort collapses about you whilst under heavy naval gunfire. Desmond’s DNA-memory avatar fluidly scrambles up flaming beams and gutted stairwells as flames crackle and dance around you, all amidst a whirling kaleidoscope of orange sparks. The nicely paced mission allowed a little play on all aspects of the main game, so I can report that combat has been positively tweaked. It’s pacier than previous offerings and the ability to counter attack has been moderately nerfed. You’re less likely to come out of a six man brawl feeling like an untouchable god-of-war, but when you do pull off a flawless fight, it feels well deserved. Obviously I was playing a heavily scripted demo mission, but I liked what I saw- the usual fare with a dash of polish.
That is not all however! Those of a mind had an opportunity to play another mission type- Naval Combat! Taking charge of a medium sized cog type vessel, you were tasked with a bit of manoeuvring then some ship-to-ship combat and boarding action. It was a little tricky, but good diversionary fun. Controls were little clunky, but then it was a sailing ship, not a hovercraft, however it looked cool and did I mention it was fun? Reports suggest that it is not going to feature heavily in the game (and why should it? You’re an assassin, not a pirate dammit!) but I look forward to the revisit.
All in all, Assassin’s creed is shaping up to be an attractive title and one to definitely get your mitts on.