Assassin’s Creed III Hands-on (PS3)

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During my weekend at rAge 2012 I managed to get through the hordes of zombies and into the Assassins Creed III stand where I was lucky enough to try two of the game’s singleplayer demos, namely a naval combat mission and a stealth mission. First and foremost I must admit that this new AnviNext engine is amazing, but we will get into that a little later.

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Fort Wolcott

This level in the Assassin’s Creed III demo has Connor sneaking into Fort Wolcott to retrieve a piece of a map without being detected. Now coming from a predominantly Xbox playing background, I had a bit of a learning curve trying to figure out the PlayStation 3 controls but soon got in to the swing of things.

What’s nice is the small attention to detail like the blood splatter on the side of the building as I assassinated the guard above me or the rope moving as Connor brushes past it. At one point I took a little time to admire the AnvilNext engine at work and I must say the level of detail is amazing, and – from watching the ocean slam against the rocks, to the British soldiers doing drills in the courtyard bellow, I was impressed.

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New additions to the Assassin’s Creed series that I picked up while playing is that walking heavy (fast walk) will now alert AI to your whereabouts, so being stealthy requires a lot more precision and timing. Targeting has been improved, too, so what happens now is that if your enemy or target is in range, a glow will appear around them which is a nice feature especially when it comes to multiple targets.

This brings me to combat, and although very brief in the demo, I did get a chance to take on a group of enemies while the building came downs around me in flames. I quickly dispatched the first two enemies by running up the wall, jumping off backwards and assassinating the two of them, which left me with a rather large Scotsman in a kilt and a very big axe to take care of. Like in previous Assassin’s Creed titles, you can disarm enemies, but in Assassin’s Creed III you’ll have the chance to break their defence, which allows you to get in close (or in my case, move back and put a few arrows into him).

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Combat in Assassin’s Creed III is a lot more challenging than before, but it is also a lot more brutal and I am sure once you get into full swing of mastering combat, Connor will become the ultimate weapon. Also, what I found out from talking to one of the Assassin’s Creed presenters at rAge is the ability to counter two AI enemies at once. Other features I found interesting was the ability to assassinate while behind walls or attract AI with a whistle.

Although the demo was short, I couldn’t help but admire the amount of effort put into Assassin’s Creed III, a good example of which would be near the end of the demo where you need to make a mad dash for the side of the fort that is facing the sea before it all comes crashing down around you. I watched as parts of the building fell and soldiers tried to take cover as the burning building crumbled on them – all while you are still running!

Naval Gazing

The second Assassin’s Creed III demo I got to play, although my time on it was short, was a naval battle and this is where the game’s AnvilNext Engine really shines through. The scene starts off in a cove – the water is calm, the sun is shining and you can see for miles. I began to set sail for the high seas and thought “Controlling the ship at this point is rather easy,” but once out in open water I was tasked with taking on three enemy ships, and as I was battling the enemy, I saw the weather around me change into a ravenous storm with lightning overhead, high waves and strong winds. The storm impacted my steering and attacking ability, and also cut visibility down with the heavy rain.

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Switching between cannon fire is performance with a simple tap on the D-pad with heavy to light fire, as well as an interesting ball and chain that is meant to take out the enemy masts. My ship took damage and splintered apart with certain sections on fire, but the flames were slowly dowsed by the rain and sea spray. I was truly amazed at how much actually went on while this was all happening, as men scrambled across and below deck, cannons reloaded, and people taking cover from incoming canon fire… and here is where my time got cut short and I was moved along, so I never got to board the enemy ship.

My overall experience as Connor in Assassin’s Creed III was amazing and the developers have outdone themselves with the AnvilNext Engine. I would have liked to have seen more of the open-world wilderness environment, but I will just have to wait until the game’s release on October 31st in South Africa, Europe and the UK.

Assassin's Creed III Wii U Screenshot 4