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Q1 2007




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Assassinís Creed


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As of late, games heavy on the stealthy take downs have had some decidedly contemporary leanings chalk full of high-tech gadgetry, and so many other conveniences of modern life.  Conversely, there really havenít been many games that do this for the sword-slinging, Middle Ages crowdÖwell, no good games anyway.  That being the case, it looks like Ubisoft is trying to remedy the situation with Assassinís Creed, and on the PlayStation 3 no less.


Taking place during the Third Crusade in the 12th Century, players take control of an assassin named Altair.  Itís uncertain what side he is on, or what his purpose is just yet, so weíll have to wait and see if he lends his services to Richard the Lionhearted, and his Christian companions, or if players will be profiting off of Saladinís Jihad, or both.


As is becoming increasingly popular these days, Assassinís Creed will be going for a very open-ended approach to gameplay, sort of like The Elder Scrolls IV, or recent GTA games, leaving a lot of options to the player.  Weíll have a basic idea of what we need to do, but how we go about it is largely up to us.  Given the sheer size, and life-like nature of the game world, this should open the door to a lot of options for players.




With this comes some interesting ideas that could potential help to enhance the sense of realism in a video game.  Firstly, the inhabitants of the various cities in Assassinís Creed are surprisingly lifelike, as they react to Altair.  If you decide to cause trouble, the populous may initially be taken aback, but once they


come around, the braver of the bunch will bring about some mob justice to set things right.  Another bit of realism comes in the form of momentum.  With that, Altair can actually fall if heís throwing himself around too much.  It sounds similar, but far more sophisticated, than some of the way football players run in Madden games.  Personally, Iím a tad skeptical to how this momentum thing will work.  Itís one of those things I really need to feel with my body; I hate when a game tries to simulate it on-screen.  It just doesnít feel natural.  Then again, maybe Ubisoft will surprise me, and get it right.  Weíll see.


Despite some bold attempts at realism, there are some fairly fantastical elements to the game as well.  Firstly, Altair is unusually nimble, certainly beyond the abilities of your average Joe in how he leaps about, scaling buildings, and stalking his prey.  Also, he is able to pick out his targets through something being called Eagle Vision (apparently Altair is Arabic for eagle, hence the name), which causes his victims to glow a bit so that players know who they are going after.  


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However, as much information as has been made available so far, it appears that Ubisoft is choosing to stay quite tight-lipped on a lot of aspects of the game still, although they are dribbling out small pieces of information that suggest that there is a lot more to Assassinís Creedís narrative than they are letting on.  The suspicion is that there may be a lot of sci-fi elements to the game, which could span a very long period of time as suggested by the somewhat high-tech appearance of the gameís HUD, as well as a ďSystem OfflineĒ message when Altair gets killed in the game.


In any event, from what we can see thus far, it looks like Ubisoft is very much aware that games are going to have to be more than just pretty on the next generation consoles.  With the attempts at making the environments in Assassinís Creed as lively and vibrant as possible, as well as experimenting with momentum, and potential unexpected plot twists, this game could find itself on a number of Most Wanted lists as it nears launch.


Mr. Nash

(July 28, 2006)


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