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The Assassin’s Creed III Boston city demo has been released and it shows that Ubisoft has really upped their game. The game play demonstrated in the demo shows more organic mechanics that allow more realistic maneuvers and actions than ever before.
There are two main cities in Assassin’s Creed III: Boston and New York in the eighteenth century. Alex Hutchinson, the Creative Director of Assassin’s Creed III, narrates the demo that shows Boston in the summer of 1773. Hutchinson explains that New York and Boston were both created at a 1:3 scale using historical maps from the eighteenth century, meaning key landmarks will appear throughout the city.
One of the first things that a player of past Assassin’s Creed games will notice is that previous moves have been upgraded or integrated with new moves. For example, Connor, the newest character in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, can jump into a bale of hay that is moving in a cart through the city. He can then assassinate a guard from that bale of hay and leave the body in the cart.
Hutchinson also explains that they have worked hard to integrate side missions into the storyline. Different characters from these side missions will help the player complete the main objective instead of just being optional side missions.
New stealth moves have also been integrated into game play. Connor can position himself against a wall or trees and is able to assassinate from these positions. New stalking zones have also been added where Connor can croch down and walk around in a bush; as Hutchinson puts it they are ‘mobile hide spots’.
One of the best features of this latest game is that there are more opportunities to distract guards beforehand, making the game that much more realistic. In one part of the demo Connor uses his rope dart to lasso a guard and hang him from a tree, drawing the attention of the other guards. In another part Connor shoots a guard with an arrow which then draws the attention of red coats guarding a ship, allowing Connor to sneak aboard.
In addition to new hide spots Connor can now also blend in between any two people, assuming the same posture and attitude as them. Like other blend spots in the previous games he can also assassinate from these positions.
The crowd within the game has also become more realistic and will respond to weather and other members of the city. Chickens and other animals have also been added to the city. Hutchinson claims that the world feels alive and believable.
Hutchinson also discusses combat saying that they rebuilt it “from the ground, up.” According to Hutchinson, “Connor is a dual-wielding specialist. All of his base combat is using two weapons at the same time. We worked very hard on the flow of combat, so your goal as a player is basically to continue your kill chain by using appropriate moves.”
Connor can also pick up weapons on his way into a fight instead of stopping to do so. In one scene in the demo Connor runs by a weapon rack, picks up a musket, stabs one guard with a bayonet, and shoots a second guard through the first guard. He then pushes another guard off of the boat that the combat is taking place on. The mechanics of the game have not only changed, they are significantly more realistic and smooth.
The health system in combat has also changed. There are no more “magical health potions or other assists” during a fight. Instead, Connor must finish the fight or run if he is to heal. With this in mind, there will be a larger health bar from the beginning since hit points will be harder to regain. This feature will encourage players to get higher kill streaks because they will get rid of enemies faster and before they receive damage. Therefore, players of the previous games who had a hard time getting kill streaks and had to rely more on the health potions, might find this game a little harder than the previous games.
The city navigation has also undergone a “face lift,” according to Hutchinson. Connor can now climb trees in the forest and in the city. The creators have also added something similar to ‘monkey bars’ throughout the city that help with navigation. Connor will also be able to run across or dive into (such as the cart previously mentioned) moving surfaces. He will also now scramble up surfaces put on an incline, but perhaps the most interesting and realistic new move is the interior of buildings. Now the player can have Connor run through the interior of a building – like jumping through two windows in a house – in order to lose pursuers.
Hutchinson does admit that although there are a lot of things that have been changed there were things, like the assassin’s brotherhood, that they liked. “Although we had a rule when we started development there would be no retreads, no mechanics we built in this game just because they’d been in the franchise before, we do like the notion that the assassin isn’t always acting alone.” However, Ubisoft did revamp the brotherhood as well. Now Connor can call in the brotherhood not only to help with assassination but they can also be disguised as red coats and lead Connor, as if he is a prisoner, past “choke points” in the city to get past guards.
Another aspect that Hutchinson elaborates on is Connor’s heritage: half Native American and half European. He admits that it is not only a “cool story device” but also has an impact on the weapons of choice for Connor. His character possesses not only the rope dart but will also use the tomahawk and a bow and arrow.
Ultimately Ubisoft has surpassed all expectations that Assassin’s Creed fans have had so far. These new features were not expected by players of the previous games, which makes the game even more exciting. Additionally, Assassin’s Creed III will be the most strategic of the Assassin’s Creed franchise with so many more possibilities for distractions and combat than ever before. This is definitely not a game to miss.