Smokin’ Gameplay

I keep forgetting that Assassin’s Creed is coming out on PC. Perhaps the “delayed-for-PC-’til-2008” announcement deleted it from the buffer memory that I reserve for thinking about upcoming excitements, or perhaps my hype-immunisation jab actually kicked in for this one. (Get yours in time for Christmas!)

Yep, in some ways it really does look too good to be true: a series of huge, open Medieval cities in which to adventure as a nefarious hashshashin, picking up missions as you meander. You can scale buildings with La Parkour ease, and interact with crowds with shoulder-bumping precision. You’ll be hiding in plain sight, leaping rooftops, lurking in shadows, and gutting infidels like dogs. (In fact only *that* level in Blood Money really seems to have crowds with even a fraction of Assassin’s Creed’s realism.)

If you’re in any way interested in the game RPS calls “Splinter Thief”, you will perhaps want to watch this eight minute sequence of footage:

Thanks, GameTrailers.

Anyway, yeah, looks like there’s plenty of cut-scene exposition. Sigh. Actually, what is far more worrying is this speculation that the whole game is going to be revealed to be a sci-fi setup of some description, perhaps with the assassin experiencing all this via ‘genetic memory’ or some other such fantastical implausibility. I’m not against science fiction twists per se, but that’s exactly the kind of over-wrought plot device that it’s easy to fuck right up. Careful, Ubisoft, saying “and it was all a dream,” doesn’t tend to go down well these days… A far better end would be sending your protagonist back to HQ to have a big old smoke.


  1. The_B says:

    Could be spoilers here, but I think the ending being all sci-fi and to do with “genetic memory” might be true. Take a look at the footage on the recent BBC article on this game, and notice the screens in the background while the game is paused. Ew.

  2. just_finished_okami says:

    Mixed feeling city. The whole SciFi Background could work out, if done properly. I just hope there’s no half arsed modern day/scifi level at the end.

    Apart from that: Must. Play. NOW!

  3. Bobsy says:

    Mm. Dissapointing if true. The world needs more games set in the actual middle ages instead of generic sci-fi tosh. Plus, there’s little in that video to entice me to play it. It all looks a whole lot less exciting than it did when it was first announced.

  4. Jim Rossignol says:

    Not even the landing in hay bit?

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    I must admit, if you’re going to do this sort of twist, I’d much prefer if they kept the fucking thing under wraps properly. It could work or it could not work, but knowing in advance changes everything.


  6. Evo says:

    I though I read in PCG a while back that you were sent back in time to sort out some problems in the Medieval time period…..or maybe that was all a dream….

  7. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    I don’t think the ‘genetic memory’ nonsense is a twist per se, just something Ubisoft have been holding back on prior to release (well until Kristen Bell spilled all anyway). From what I’ve seen it’s readily apparent from the gameplay that you’re in a simulation of some sort; namely the ‘memory paused’ stuff/menu screens, glitching of some NPCs (see the rooftop archers here: link to and the the white sheen with floating chemical formulae which crops up whenever an NPC is targeted.

    I’d tend to agree with the commenter/poster above, who appears to have only /just/ finished Okami, that the premise could work if done sensibly. Can’t really say much more until the final product is safely clutched in my greasy mitts.

  8. Schadenfreude says:

    If the sci-fi twist is extraneous to the gameplay then I’ll be happily able to ignore it, but yeah; it does seem an unnecessary complication to what’s already an appealing concept.

  9. Jachap says:

    I thought that looked terrific. Though the second guard he kills seems to have an inordinate amount of leg twitch going on. Something I’ve also noticed quite a bit in Bioshock, too.

    I’ve never really liked the old keep-to-the-shadows style stealth games. Splinter Cell, for example, has consistently baffled and frustrated me to the point where even the tutorial level takes me about eighteen retries. I just don’t have the demeanor for it.

    Still, the sort of “action stealth” in this and the next Splinter Cell game interests me a lot more and, I suppose, sci-fi twist aside, that’s really the point of the game. To make impatient wusses like me embrace the genre.

    Even so, the bit where he fights all that guys – despite the individual one-on-ones looking superb – didn’t convince me at all. They seemed to just back off until attacked.

  10. Alec Meer says:

    I would imagine it’s less about being a twist, more to do with the kind of thing Jordan Thomas mentions in Kieron’s Making of Thief 3 piece – that people at large don’t think they’d enjoy being Historical Stealth Guy. Slap some sci-fi and conspiracy theory shlock in there and more idiots will be interested. Keeping it entirely a secret would thus be counter-productive, but tease it out gradually and yet more people start paying attention.

  11. finished_okami_a_while_ago says:

    I’m not really sure if I recall everything correctly, but I think I’ve read/seen/imagined somewhere, that Ubisoft want to make a franchise out of the game without having to stick to the middle ages.

    Maybe the next Assassins Creed will be set in ancient rome or during the Napoleonic Wars or whatever with the only connecting bit the scifi/real world backstory.

    The whole setup reminds me of Paul’s fate in Otherland. (No, I’m not gonna explain that. If you haven’t read Otherland you can’t be a good person)

  12. Ryan Williams says:

    I can’t actually remember how, but I knew something like eight months ago that there was going to be some kind of deviation from the era depicted in most media. I think it might have been in some EDGE article or something; I’m sure someone else caught this too and has a hazy memory of it.

    I don’t really think it’s necessarily a bad thing as long as the narrative is strong. If it makes a good story, I’m all for it; it just comes down to whether or not UbiSoft can actually pull it off well, as mentioned in the original post. But then, is there anything to suggest they can’t?

  13. Nuyan says:

    I expect a “Da-Vinci Code”-ish plot

  14. Tom Armitage says:

    So I’m hoping there’s an even gnarlier twist than the sci-fi stuff. Namely:

    Ubi have been *very* quiet about Splinter Cell 5, which is meant to be due any time soon. Part of me really hopes that the big reveal on Assassin’s Creed is that it’s all really some kind of genetic-memory/nerve-stimulation-virtual-reality that Sam Fisher’s either a) forcibly undergoing or b) running as a training program for new recruits.

    You get to the end of Assassin’s Creed, and it reveals its true colours as Splinter Cell 5.

    I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to be the case, but it filled me with glee, as an idea, when I thought about it.

  15. Jim Rossignol says:

    Let’s put Mr Armitage in charge of Ubisoft’s development policies.

  16. Greg says:

    “The whole setup reminds me of Paul’s fate in Otherland.”

    That would definitely work for me, but I’m not sure that Ubi is really up to the task of making it into something that fulfilling.

  17. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    “I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to be the case, but it filled me with glee, as an idea, when I thought about it.”

    It being Splinter Cell: ConViction (yes, they have emphasised the V in the logo) is far fetched since they’ve put out some early gameplay footage, but it’s depressingly within the realms of plausibility that they could pull it into Tom Clancy’s war-porn megaverse (set to implode under its own bulbous mass when EndWar is released).

  18. Jim Rossignol says:

    “Tom Clancy’s War-Porn Megaverse”. There’s a rebranding exercise I’d like to see.

  19. Schadenfreude says:

    If we see Altair chewing on some Wrigley’s Airwaves we’ll know Armitage is on to something. That’s also the moment I turn off the game and trade it in for something else. Never did finish Splinter Cell 3.

  20. Kieron Gillen says:

    Actually, watching the video, I’d play that.


  21. Nate says:

    “Hola, Rinaldo, did you see that strange man, clad in a nobleman’s clean white, that was milling about the market?”

    “The one with the huge, exotic knife carried on his back?”

    “Si, Rinaldo.”

    “Who held himself with the easy air of a man trained in war, comfortable in any environ, while he stepped with the grace of a leopard through the bustling marketplace, a place where he apparently had no particular labor or purchase in mind?”

    “Si, Rinaldo.”

    “Who bore not a single winestain on his clothing, and stunk, not of a month’s heavy toil, but of a strange and foreign musk?

    “Si, Rinaldo.”

    “Well, now that you mention it, I didn’t mention anyone of that description. And seeing as how noteworthy foreigners are in our pre-aeronautic age of poverty, I think that I would have noticed someone like that. Still, no worries if you indeed saw what you claim– what could he be, an elite Eastern assassin? Hah!”

  22. Turin Turambar says:

    rumors, what rumors? I thought the scifi twist was a known fact in these times. There were more videos behind-the-doors in past E3s with more clues about that.

  23. Willy359 says:

    I hope the game doesn’t require the player to end every mission with a massacre. Whenever I play a Thief or a Hitman game, I pride myself on going completely unnoticed and killing as little as possible. I also hope you can turn off that stupid white glow you get whenever you look at anybody.

  24. roBurky says:

    The jumping about the rooftops in that video looked great. The combat, however, looked awful.

  25. Brant says:

    I was completely sold on the game until the fight sequence where the player was surrounded by guards who shuffled around waiting for their turn to be dispatched with extreme flair, after which the player kited them around town. Blah.

    Then the parkour-escape-sequence sold me again. Where do I send money?

  26. finished_okami_a_while_ago says:

    Nate: You definitely won this comments section. I bow before you. You’ve perfectly articulated the main concern I have about this game. I haven’t seen a single second of footage from this game where Altair behaves in the remotest way unconspicously.

  27. g says:

    Couldn’t have put it better myself, Nate. That’s exactly what I thought when I first saw this game. I find it hard to believe that a whole organization of highly trained medieval assassins finds it only inconspicuousness in the off chance that there happens to be a group of white robed monks ambling along next to its target. “Social Stealth” my ass…

    The actual gameplay does seem rather fun, though. Even if the premise is lacking in feasibility…