Fellow wikians, it's been far too long. But between the hectic fun of Initiates and a few other cool things I've been doing, I've finally found some time to touch back down. Assassin's Creed III edges ever closer with each sloth like day, so I'm sure in your hunger for intel you've all been diligently dissecting each morsel of information that's been appearing the past few weeks. Here's hoping a little retelling of my Boston adventure will send you into overdrive.
Being one of the franchise's biggest fans means that I'm also one of its biggest critics, I'm sure you all can sympathize. Knowing the brand inside out also means that spotting its most minute flaws becomes somewhat of an involuntary compulsion. And to be perfectly honest, with so many new gameplay innovations having been announced for AC3 I was extraordinarily excited yet massively skeptical. Would a development team I've grown to trust and respect have changed my beloved franchise into something un-reminiscent of it's past brilliance in their quest to create something fresh? These were all the mind wonderings of a man 30,000 feet above the Atlantic while embarking on a four-day Assassin's Creed III blitz, in Boston - courtesy of Ubisoft.
I tentatively arrived in the bustling metropolis and began to wonder about the location in its 18th century splendor. About the people, the politics, the place. The world of Assassin's Creed III. Later that evening, having checked in to a very generous hotel, I made my way to Boston harbor in a shuttle along with the world's press and members of the Dev team. A surreal moment in itself. We arrived at our venue to the warm welcome of a colonial clad rebel. A hilarious evening ensued, a light hearted - yet serious - re-enactment of the Boston tea party playfully helped bring us back to the years of the revolution. The evening, minus it's slight overload of patriotism, became something I hoped the game would be. Fun, yet would take itself seriously.
The rest of our stay in the city would be filled with wonderful treats like this. From educational historical city tours, to visits of significant in-game locations with the devs. We were brought to Boston Common, the Old State house and Bunker Hill, to name a few, all in-game landmarks or locations. We were told of events that took place there and of the integral part they each played in the founding of the United States. All in an attempt to help us imagine a universe they wished to portray. We'd all soon find out.
Walking into a huge themed room filled with AC3 demos would make any fan weak at the knees. I was no exception. I scuttled my way towards a screen and eagerly grasped the controller. My previous worries fresh at the front of my cranium. After some brief introductory words from Creative Director - Alex Hutchinson - I mashed down the start button without hesitation. The world began to load.
As a magnificently beautiful wilderness formed I began my adventure in sequence 6, about mid way through the game, and was immediately introduced to an unexpected, never before seen feature in Connor’s world. Davenport Homestead. Much more functional than Villa Auditore, Achilles' homestead will act as Connor's base if operations during the Revolution. A safe haven from his notorious city life and a strategic post from which he could plan his actions.
The homestead itself is said to grow with time, depending on how the player wished to interact with it. Completing random encounters throughout the world will beckon people to become part of the local community. From carpenters and blacksmiths to hunters and doctors, this fun-filled addition looks as if it will be massively rewarding for the time invested by the player.
Moving from the homestead to the frontier I had some time to play with the new controls. EVERYTHING HAD CHANGED! EVERYTHING WAS BETTER. Free running has now been confined to one button (R1 for PS3, Right Shoulder for Xbox), which allows for Connor's relationship with the complex environment around him to become much more fluid. He leaps from branch to branch without hesitation or confusion and propels himself up sheer cliff edges with unbelievable speed and precision. No more leaping from 200ft to land beside a haystack. Victory!
As I journeyed closer to Boston I encountered my first Elk, and thought to myself, easy kill. Bow and arrow, Bobs your uncle. Nope. I got owned. Time and time again the wilderness proved just how dangerous it could be. I was killed by a bear, another elk, and a pack of wolves. A sense of unrivalled realism within the environment soon became apparent. In my haste to get stuck in I had forgotten what was required of me and I realized that I must be more tactful and aware. A series of on screen prompts will act as the savior to the player caught in conflict with the wild beast. After some trial and tribulation I found a new respect for what Ubisoft had done with this portion of the game. Staying true to Connor's heritage, promoting endless animal slaughter would be frowned upon, so they've made interaction with the frontier's inhabitants just difficult enough to put the player off such acts. Hunting becomes an activity driven forth by necessity, not sport. Even down to the detail that Connor looses synch if he neglects to skin any animal he has killed. It's the details like this that reassure me that this game will be absolutely mind blowing.
After a lengthy trek I finally arrived in Boston. Tomahawk at the ready
TO BE CONTINUED...