Gamescom 2011: Assassin's Creed: Revelations Preview – A Tale of Two Assassins
Written Wednesday, August 24, 2011 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
With Ubisoft's E3 demo of Assassin's Creed: Revelations setting such a high watermark for all-out action with its harbour-bound flamethrower madness in which Ezio sunk an entire armada of galleons before swimming to safety, we were unsure whether a stealth-based presentation could live up to the same level. As far as set pieces go, it's pretty hard to top the E3 demo, so for Gamescom, Ubisoft has gone for a different taste by showing some of the more stealthy assassin fare, as Ezio engages in his personal journey following in the footsteps of fellow master assassin, Altair.
Opening with a treacherous carriage chase on a narrow cliffside trail in Masyaf, wheels clash and veer dangerously near to the precipice, when suddenly a grenade blows one of the axles straight off of Ezio's cart, throwing him over the cliff edge and onto a flat platform of rock below. “Finish him off!” growls the demo's antagonist Leandros, who's better known as the nasty fellow who tried to hang Ezio, tying a noose around his neck. “Bring me his head,” Leandros instructs his guards who quickly scarper down the side of the cliff after Ezio.
However, Ezio is critically injured and needs to get to somewhere relatively safe, as he's in no shape to be fighting. Rounding the cliffside plateau up a set of wooden stairs, Ezio comes to a mill nestled in front of a snowy mountain fortress. The surrounding landscape is simply breathtaking, with snowcapped mountain peaks shadowing the fortress compound that Ezio finds himself having to infiltrate in order to obtain one of the five Keys of Altair, which is in the possession of Leandros who's now dug in somewhere within the fortress walls.
Stabbing a lone patrolling soldier outside the mill, Ezio then climbs onto the gigantic water wheel quietly lapping through the water at the front of the mill and rides it up to the rooftop, for a better look into the fortress' courtyard. “This used to be so easy,” groans Ezio, holding his arm, hunched and weary from his injury and advancing years. As an ageing master assassin, Ezio's Eagle Vision is also more sophisticated than before, enabling him to pick out several targets at once through walls and other objects. Low on health, Ezio needs to carefully plan out his approach and tactics in carving a path towards assassinating Leandros.
Spying seven enemies between him and Leandros, Ezio makes his way across the rooftops and takes out one of the guards with a stealthy kill from the rear, before heading down to the narrow walkways between the buildings on the ground. This gives Ubisoft the perfect opportunity to showcase Assassin's Creed: Revelations' bomb crafting feature in more detail, as Ezio can access bomb-making cabinets in certain areas that work somewhat like Brotherhood's pigeon coops that enabled you to sort out and customise your team of assassins.
These bomb cabinets allow Ezio to create his own bombs from a selection of ingredients that can be found on bodies and in chests, or purchased from vendors. Creating a trip mine, Ezio lays it in the patrol path of three guards taking them down in one fell swoop, before lobbing a small timed cherry bomb down an adjoining alleyway to distract more soldiers investigating the area. With three guards taken down in one fell swoop, Ezio quickly evades the guards checking out the cherry bomb explosion and searches one of the bodies to recover shrapnel and caltrops for bomb-crafting.
Ezio finds a medical table next, finally healing himself making getting around a lot swifter and easier, without the impediment of stumbling from his sustained injury. Returning to the bomb-crafting, we get to see the interface you'll be using, which is neatly divided into three distinct categories of bomb type, namely Lethal, Tactical and Diversion bombs. Building a bomb looks straightforward, with cross-sections showing how the bomb's various components fit together. So, creating a splinter bomb for example involves adding caltrops to a grenade, which makes for a perfect chase breaker.
Once you've finished making your bomb, you can test it in the Animus if you want, then it's stored in the designated Lethal, Tactical or Diversion bomb pouch and accessed via the new secondary weapon wheel, which sits to the right of Ezio's standard radial weapon selection menu. Alerting the guards, Ezio finds the perfect opportunity to throw the splinter bomb behind him, leaving a trail of spiky lumps of metal for his pursuing enemies to impale their feet on. It reminds us somewhat of Tenchu, which also used caltrops as an effective chase breaker like this. “There's nowhere left to run!” shout the guards as they continue chasing Ezio, who cuts a winch rope holding up a portcullis gate deeper into the stronghold.
With the gate crashing down, Ezio spots Leandros on the rooftop of the building ahead, and proceeds to climb up the wall with his usual agility and athleticism, belying his middle-age and greying beard. The camera's focus pulls out to reveal gun-toting guards in the foreground, lining up their sights as Ezio climbs in the distance, dodging potshots on his climb. Reaching the top of the tower, Ezio aggressively brings Leandros down, finishing him quickly, before hearing the obligatory Animus-based confessional and gaining the Seal of Altair. Obtaining the artefact, Ezio then gets to relive one of Altair's memories and we're treated to a short sequence with the original Assassin's Creed protagonist.
Hearing Altair speak is a little jarring at first, but it's good to see him again, fighting Templars and defending his mentor Al Mualim from The Crusader, who is also a new multiplayer character and assassination target in this particular section. Pre-Assassin's Creed I, this segment of Altair's story has Altair tracking down The Crusader as he marches through your compound executing your allies with a crossbow. The quicker you can kill him, the less of your brothers he'll be able to slaughter, adding a certain degree of urgency to the mission. Scrambling up to a high vantage point, Altair draws a bead on The Crusader, powerless as he watches him firing bolts at point blank range, killing innocents.
Soon Altair manages to get closer, pouncing from above to execute The Crusader and earn the status of master assassin. Altair and Al Mualim then talk for a while, revealing that Altair's father was also an assassin, before the sequence then concludes. There'll be more Altair sequences like this with each of the five keys you obtain, but Assassin's Creed: Revelations is still very much Ezio's story and will focus more upon his journey following Altair's historical trail. Furthermore, Assassin's Creed: Revelations will be comparable in size to Assassin's Creed II or Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and will be something of a hybrid in terms of how the world and its mechanics will work, with three separate expansive locales in Constantinople, Masyaf and Cappadocia, which include an expanded economy compared to ACII and ACB.
Unsurprisingly, Assassin's Creed: Revelations is looking like another blockbusting instalment in the franchise, and Ezio is as appealing a lead character as he's ever been. With Altair and Desmond also getting a look in this time around, Revelations has the potential to be the most exciting Assassin's Creed game yet, and with its new bomb-crafting, the versatile hook blade and more besides, Ezio has enough new tricks up his sleeve to make it more than worthwhile revisiting the character once more. Simply put, we can't wait to play Assassin's Creed: Revelations this November.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations is out on November 15th in North America and November 18th in Europe.