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Assassin’s Creed III Ventures into the Wild

KillHil March 26, 2012 User blog:KillHil

There will be bears.

Assassin’s Creed III stands out in stark contrast to the series’ previous entries. Gone are the sprawling cityscapes of previous Assassin Creed titles, replaced by the untamed lands of the New World. Taking control of a new assassin, the half-Mohawk/half-European Connor Kenway, you’ll spend a lot of time in the American wilderness. You’ll nimbly scale trees rather than historic churches, stalk redcoat soldiers who are knee-deep in the New England snow, and go toe-to-toe with vicious bears.

Set between 1753 and 1783, Assassin’s Creed III mines the events of the American Revolution, allowing gamers to participate in such historic events as the great New York fire and Washington’s battle at Valley Forge. There are historic figures from America’s first President to Ben Franklin, Lafayette, and Charles Lee. You’ll even see some parts of New England that still exist today. But that’s not what excites me about Assassin’s Creed III.

A 20-minute demo of AC3 shown at Ubisoft’s office focused on the wilderness Connor will traverse. The forest is 1 1/2 times the size of Rome in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. That’s an expansive playground to mess around in and offers a lot of new opportunities for killing enemies. Snow slows down both Connor and his targets. But Connor has the skill to move through the trees, leaping from branch to branch and up the faces of cliffs, providing a distinct advantage, particularly in the winter.

The element of surprise appears even more prevalent than when stalking enemies across a crowded city in past games. Lurk in a branch above an approaching scout and can snatch them by the throat with your rope dart. Drop down to the ground and your victim lifts up, quickly hung and dead. When his allies find their friend strung up, they panic. You strike fast with a tomahawk. The rest fire wildly and then must desperately attempt to reload their muskets. You finish them in seconds.

In the previous Assassin’s Creed games, I felt like I was playing someone who was somewhat sophisticated in his tracking of targets through crowded cities. In AC3, Connor is a predator. From the scenes shown so far by Ubisoft, the killings are more visceral. This feels more like a hunter toying with prey than traditional Assassin’s combat. Even a more straight-forward mission on a battlefield ends with a new running assassination. Connor sprints straight at his target and attacks in an instant. It’s quite something.

Of course, the bear is what really caught my eye. Combat with a bear can’t be the same as combat with a British soldier. It would be pretty silly to trade blows back and forth with an 800-pound bear. Bears are deadly and this grizzly bear was particularly imposing. Wildlife combat is fast, over in seconds (one way or the other). It’s a series of fast counters that, when successfully executed, leave the bear vulnerable to an assassination kill.

You have to keep in mind that this is the first time Ubisoft is showing Assassin’s Creed. First reveals in the game’s industry are kind of like icebergs –you only really see 10% of what the game has to offer, the rest remains hidden until later. This is just the tip of what we can expect from Assassin’s Creed III. If Ubisoft shows a bear fight right off the bat, then there is almost certainly far more still to be revealed about Connor’s life in the wild. The experience should have far more depth than the countryside roaming of Assassin Creed’s last hero, Ezio Firenze.

What I’ve always loved about Assassin’s Creed is city exploration. The assassinations and main game have always been secondary for me. The American frontier seems like a pretty exciting area to wander and with snow, fog, and rain as part of the environmental mix, even the same areas will have some differences depending on the time of year in the game.

Keep in mind, there are still assassinations, cities to explore, and Desmond’s futuristic storyline taking place in tandem with Connor’s historical moments. Assassin’s Creed III offers the essential elements of the previous games and adds pieces of Red Dead Redemption into the mix. That’s a formula that could prove to make this the best Assassin’s Creed yet.

The wait for a true sequel to Assassin’s Creed II is almost up. Looks like it was worth it.

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