by Matt Porter
previewed on PS3
Connor is now able to climb objects that would actually be climbable in real life such as trees and rock faces which in previous games were not scalable. The trees are natural looking enough to not simply look like rigid bars designed for easy jumping, and correct rock climbing techniques such as putting both hands inside a crack to gain maximum friction have been implemented. Ubisoft wanted the free movement to seem grounded and realistic, noting that they did not want Connor to swing through the trees like Tarzan.
The developers also want Connor to be a different style of assassin to Ezio, one that is always on the move and acts as more of a predator. To aid this, a mechanic called stalking zones has been introduced. There are areas in which Connor can move around undetected, such as a row of bushes. Simply moving slowly into one of these areas automatically puts the character into this stealth mode. The combat and animations have also been sharpened up to complement this new style of assassin. Connor can be seen to move through enemies rather than stopping to kill each one in turn, giving a sense of progression. He is a dual wielding specialist, and this somehow makes the combat seem more visceral than usual.
I had a chance to go hands-on with a shortened version of the naval battle level described earlier, without the extra assassination section. The ship movement and combat felt surprisingly good to handle. The ship feels heavy enough without being unwieldy, and there is a helpful aiming system which is not too intrusive. The weather and sea effects looked top notch too. Also available for play was the new multiplayer mode, where two teams of assassins struggled to capture three points around the map. If you own the point, you can kill enemies inside it, otherwise you can only stun them, leaving you open to attack from their teammates. It’s a new twist to Assassin’s Creed's multiplayer, which was already a surprisingly fun addition to the previous games.
Assassin’s Creed 3 looked impressive, and hopefully we will continue to be impressed when the game is finally released, as the franchise certainly needed a refresher.