U.S. History Just Got a Bit More Interesting – A Preview of Assassin’s Creed III

U.S. History was always a subject I could never really quite get that into.  I mean I consider myself to be quite the history buff.  I love ancient history and world, but for some reason the Battles of Lexington and Concord or the signing of the Declaration never really resonated with me as much as say the battle of Thermopylae or discovering the Rosetta Stone.  Maybe call me un-patriotic or what have you, but I just never really found our nations history to be that riveting or exciting.  That is, until now.

In Assassin’s Creed III, the next installment to the critically acclaimed Assassin’s Creed series, the on going war between the Assassins and Templars has been moved from the dense and rich European cities to the vast and open American frontier.  Taking place over the course over 30 years, the story is before, during, and after the American Revolution.  Unfortunately the sauve yet badass Ezio will not be making the long trip to American shores, however we are introduced to a new character and lead, Ratonhnhaké:ton or better known as Connor.  Half Native American and half British, Connor is conflicted on whom to fight for, however it is this conflict that makes the story.  This is Connor’s story and how he became a part of the Assassin order and how he becomes a part of the fight in the American Revolution.  Along the way Connor will encounter numerous historical figures such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, Charles Lee, and others, ensuring that history is still a staple aspect of the series.

In an interview with CVG (computerandvideogames.com) Ubisoft president Yves Guillemot stated that this Assassin’s game “will be the biggest to date,” and from what’s been revealed so far it certainly appears to be that way.  Ubisoft Montreal is returning yet again to spearhead this latest installment in the Assassin’s Creed series, so it should be of no surprise then that a lot of the same elements seen from previous Assassin’s Creed games will be returning, however they have been totally revamped and made a new, creating a fresher and new take to the Assassin’s Creed formula.

The combat has been totally redone and a new controller scheme has been created for this upcoming title.  In being a new assassin Connor now always fights dual handed.  According to creative director Alex Hutchinson, the brand new controller scheme “allows you continual access to tools such as pistols on one button, as well as maintaining access to your core weapon, such as the hidden blade.”  This creates a more fluid control when it comes to combat making Connor not only easier to handle, but also making him look extremely graceful and badass when it comes to killing.  Since the game takes place during the American Revolution guns have become a bigger threat in this Assassin’s game as opposed to past.  According to Hutchinson “firing lines are a key feature of the period and we’ve integrated them into both combat and pre-combat, to give the player different opportunities such as the meat-shield.”  Countering is still a huge aspect when it comes to combat.  Enemies now attack in unison generating a new and stylish “duel counter” and according to Hutchinson after you counter an enemy “you have a choice of what to do, whether to assassinate, dodge, or throw them.”  They call this a “window of opportunity,” which creates a new and refreshing taste when it comes to combat.  On top of this the assassinations have also been totally redone.  In being a new assassin Connor can now assassinate with any weapon, and can also perform “running assassinations,” giving off this impression that Connor is always on the move.

The biggest and most intriguing change with Assassin’s Creed III however is the environment and animation.  The dense gridded cities that always made up the scenery in past Assassin’s games are gone, and has instead been replaced by the vast and open American frontier.  This change of surroundings has lead to a totally redone parkour and navigation system that has always been a staple part of the series.  Tree navigation is the newest and most significant addition to the overall navigation system.  According to Hutchinson tree navigation “allows Connor to deal with forests, cliffs, uneven surfaces as fluidly and smoothly as previous Assassin’s dealt with cities.”  The team at Ubisoft Montreal is “trying very hard to keep natural shapes, organic surfaces, to make believable terrain” according to Hutchinson.  The environment is no longer gridded with square surfaces, and Connor can now grab onto all sorts of different shapes and objects.  “You can go anywhere.  Anything you see that has a handhold that’s climbable is climbable, and we really highlight the areas where you can’t go,” says Hutchinson.  This new navigation system not only brings a fresh take on how to traverse and travel throughout the environment, but it is also a major leap in gaming animation.

With this new environment it opens the door to a whole new type of gameplay.  Seasons such as winter and summer are now implemented in the game, and both have their own unique effects on Connor.  For instance during the winter, snow slows Connor down encouraging him to climb and stay off of the ground.  This introduction of the frontier has also introduced wildlife to the series.  “There are over 200 different species of animal in the game,” says Hutchinson and they all offer unique opportunities or threats to Connor.  Although the vast frontier has replaced the populated city, cities or rather colonies will still play an important role in Assassin’s Creed III.  Colonies such as New York and Boston will be central areas in the game, and will offer a different take on gameplay as opposed to the wilderness.  With two virtually different atmospheres to explore, the environment in Assassin’s Creed III will be a refreshing take to not only the series but also action adventure games in general.

Hutchinson and the team at Ubisoft Montreal truly believe that they “have the most robust third person character in action games today,” and from what’s been seen and revealed so far they just might.  If anything can be said, they for sure have the most robust third person character in any Assassin’s Creed game to date, and this title is definitely shaping up to be the best in the series.  With super tight animation, a new combat scheme and navigation system, this is one title that for sure needs to be on your radar when it comes out later this fall on October 30th.  Be sure to check out the gameplay video and let us know what you think, and stay tuned to updownright for all the latest on this highly anticipated title.

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