First impressions: Assassin's Creed

Hot-looking stealth/action mash-up set in the 12th century - and there's more than a touch of Prince of Persia about it

Shown behind closed doors to high-profile, globe-spanning web-monsters like us here at CVG, Assassin's Creed mixes stealth killing with Prince of Persia user-friendliness and simplicity.

It's arcade stealth, though. Easy stealth. If you want to blend in with the locals to stop being seen, all you do is press a button. In one scene, the hero sees a group of monks walking around with their heads bowed in prayer - press a button and he joins the group, pretending to pray with them until the heat passes. You don't even have to steer him - when you're in stealth mode his actions are taken care of for you.

Making things easier still is a free-running feature, letting you leap across roof beams by holding another button as you run. There's no pixel-perfect jumping nonsense in here. Climbing is also super-simple - you can hike onto any protruding ledge, finding your own way up the outside of buildings in a free-scaling bonanza.

Thankfully, the combat isn't all that poncy PoP stuff - it's hard, slow, sword fighting, with one big swing of your heavy weapon all you can manage in one go. Sometimes there's no fighting at all, with massive battles often requiring you to dodge incoming whacks in a ninja-like fashion rather than fighting your way out.

If you succeed in assassinating your mission target, panic kicks off - the demo had us surrounded by a crowd of 30 great-looking, screaming, shouting villagers all trying to run away from us in blind terror. You even get to ride a horse - it's got a lot of bases covered.

We also saw a few seconds of the front end of the game. Normally that's not something worth writing about, but... just don't expect the entire thing to be set in the 12th century from what we saw...

All in all, Assassin's Cree is looking pretty hot - it's easy to play, it's got vibrant locations packed with locals and, to be honest, we're looking forward to playing a stealth game that isn't about global conspiracies or South American drug barons.

We believe the Sony Money Men have secured this as an exclusive for PS3 - at least for a little while - so you might need to start saving some sizeable pennies if you can't wait for a 360 version. In the meantime, go check out the latest screens from Ubisoft's next big home.