In what is some of the most impressive CGI I have ever seen, Ubisoft showed everyone the setting and atmosphere that they are hoping to capture with the follow up to Assassin’s Creed. Ubisoft were obviously anxious to show off what they are obviously confident will be a huge seller for them later in the year. The problem lies not with whether Assassin’s Creed 2 will sell like medieval hot cakes, but rather whether the issues that stopped Assassin’s Creed’s gameplay being an undeniable force and potential industry changer. Could they do it with the second title?
What they showed us in the closed door preview was more or less what was shown in the Sony press conference, with a bit more detail, and a lot more explanation. Ezio Auditore is the main character, he comes from a well to do Florentine family, his father is part of the Assassin Brotherhood. A member, or members of his family have been killed by a rival family and Ezio must go out and exact his vicious wrist-bladed revenge. Along the way you will be helped by friends, such as the guys you saw sitting on the bench with Ezio in the demo, and Leonardo Da Vinci. The other notable members of Venetian society will also play a role in the game, the De Medici family, the Pazzi family, Niccolo Machiavelli and more, the period was rife with political, religious and financial turmoil that creates an environment suitable for an Assassin to go about his business.
In our discussion with the game designer, Matthew, we learnt that there will be some fairly hefty changes to the way the game works. The addition of a currency system is just one, players will be able to buy gadgets to help them complete the hits, smoke bombs were one example, but there will be more, I assume that the upgrade to a ballistic gun like device fired from his wrist would be another. There will be 20 main missions with up to 200 missions in total, the types of missions also vary in type from the original and the way that they are carried out is less rigid.
Although the monks may be returning to the sequel, they won’t be the only way of loosing the authorities in a crowd, you will be able to mingle in with any group of people consisting of more than 4 persons. You will still be able to hide in hay stacks but they are not permanent hiding spots, guards will check them, and while you can dump a guards body in them they aren’t the safe haven that they used to be. The world is open from the beginning with 15 different mission types and the game being driven by the narrative rather than taking orders from some silly sacrosanct guild leader. The tie in with Desmond is still unknown but I would expect that side of the story to pick up where we left off in the first.
A feature that Assassin’s Creed will be carrying over from the first title are the rich environments with Venice being planned down to the last tiled rooftop. Graphic whores won’t be disappointed with what is on offer, It looks like cloth physics might have even been improved, but the overall quality of the games appearance has stepped up a notch. As I stated in the E3 podcast I would be very impressed if the cut scenes looked like the showing in the Ubisoft press conference, it would make an attractive interlude to the actual gameplay with a very visceral style.
Double assassinations, jumping assassinations, pull down from ledge assassinations, high profile for a quick kill, low profile for stealth, there are more options for accomplishing a kill than what there was in the original. There are a lot of features that Ubisoft are promising, if they fit together in a coherent package then Assassin’s Creed 2 is going to be more than what people were anticipating with the first, can’t wait to see how it all turns out. The interview will be in this weeks podcast.