Assassins Creed 3 Preview - March 28th 2012
Some may be forgiven for thinking that the guys at Ubisoft may have had difficulty with mathematics at school when Assassins Creed 3 releases this October. Haven’t there been four AC games already? However, where Brotherhood and Revelations were sub chapters to AC 2 and elaborated on the story of Italian assassin Ezio Auditore, AC 3 will be a whole new beast.
AC 3 has been in development since 2009 at Ubisoft Montreal, with 80 per cent of the team from the first two games working hard to bring the game to fruition. Montreal is backed up by a further three Ubisoft studios; Annecy, Québec City, and Singapore, who all worked on Brotherhood and Revelations (games that the Montreal studio weren’t really involved in due to their focus on AC3). It was clear to the developers that AC3 had to have major changes to avoid the series stagnation that seemed apparent with the last two games that were essentially AC 2.1 and AC 2.2.
To this extent Ubisoft re-examined all the core mechanics of the series including the cities, the combat and the free running mechanics, going so far as to update the entire game engine (Anvil) to what is now dubbed AnvilNext. Building on what came before, the new engine provides greater graphical prowess with improved lighting, textures and shadow effects, and also allows thousands of characters to be displayed on screen at any given moment. Furthermore, the updated engine allows for even more fluidity to combat and free running, creating more realistic instances throughout the game.
As mentioned, AC3 is a completely new beast and this doesn’t just refer to the game engine alone. Leaving Renaissance Italy and Ottoman Turkey behind, the story now shifts to America in 1753, during the civil war. The game will take place over the span of thirty years and will introduce a new protagonist, Connor (Native American name: "Ratohnhaké:ton" [Ra-doon-ha-gay-doo]) of English and Native American descent. We will experience the game through his eyes as his life unfolds from being raised as a child by the Mohawk, to becoming an assassin and taking revenge for the burning of his village, and beyond. Connor’s multi-cultural background will make him a more complex protagonist than ever before as he attempts to balance his two conflicting ancestries. For the developers AC has always been about history and thus the American civil war seemed the perfect setting for the game as it pays witness to the birth of a nation.
For those that fear that the setting may make the game very pro-American, there is nothing to worry about. Although the civil war is central to the story, Connor remains first and foremost an assassin and his enemies, the Templars, will appear on both sides of the conflict. There will also be a European aspect to the game with French and German interests reportedly represented, giving the game more of an international vibe. Set during such an important historical event the player will also be interacting with numerous influential historical figures such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin who will play major roles in the story. Although not much has been said yet about the modern day setting for the game, it is believed that AC3 will continue on the story of Desmond [SPOILERS!] at the New York location seen at the ending of Revelations.
With the new AnvilNext engine in place, players can expect AC3 to handle a little differently than its predecessors. The combat of previous games was beginning to get a little stale in Revelations, and the further minor additions made to the gameplay (such as bomb crafting) did little to mask that essentially we had been playing the same game since AC 2. It was important to the developers that nothing was copied and pasted from previous games as they wanted AC 3 to feel fresh and new to all players. Combat and free running are receiving some attention to be made more fluid and realistic which, coupled with the introduction of the wilderness as a setting as well as the towns/cities, could bring added depth to the gameplay. The idea of running through trees or standing perched on a branch while listening to the conversation of two oblivious potential targets below is indeed an inviting one. Add to that the new weather cycle which will provide yet another dimension to the gameplay, with things like snow and rainfall affecting both movement and assassination tactics, AC 3 is shaping up to be an extremely interesting proposition.
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