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Assassin's Creed

More open than Oblivion, more brutal than Hitman: We plunge into the heart of Ubisoft's crusader

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It is in these areas that our new friend Altair will presumably be able to find clues to his next target's location as well as discovering side missions and distractions. And while some of these tasks might prove to be filler, helping certain characters and causes can pay off later as these good Samaritans aid and abet you in your escape. But if you fail to help, the peaceful monks that might have concealed you will raise a veritable hue and cry, previously open doors will be locked, and beggars feeling betrayed by the amount of robbing in their hood will claw viciously at your ankles. In fact, the opinions and attitude of the masses are so important to your progress that using Altair's 'initiative' will highlight who your charity has convinced and who is still deeply hostile to your actions.

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Ready To Rumble
Recognition is still an important element as you push your way through the 60-strong crowds in each town. Despite the game having 10,000 character animations, there's enough variety in visage, voice and reaction to violence to both mark out certain figures, and for them to recognise you. Convincing facial animation reveal if they have spotted you, from raised eyebrows to full on glares while the chance to overhear snippets of conversation and clues complete the atmosphere of credible shoppers, salesmen and soldiers. And like all good townies, they will stare if you dare to dress differently or start acting in a way that society doesn't expect - Ubisoft call it 'social stealth' but it simply means fitting in with the currently pretty damn convincing movements of the mob. It's an effect that you've got to see in action to truly appreciate. And appreciate it you will.

The best way to avoid their prying eyes is to be an anti-social climber. That means finding a quiet corner and using the game's much-talked about ability to clamber onto any ledge or surface. And while this freedom can feel daunting to gamers raised on set routes and corridors of certainty, the pad's rumble guides your hands. You see, not only will the jiggling of the controller help you pick out something to hang on to, the vibrations also become more intense as your grasp on that ridge weakens and your grip gives way, with lethal consequences.

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Leaping Beauty
For another equally quick but marginally safer way down, there is the 'leap of faith'. This near-suicidal plunge allows you to get from the top of a high building, losing pursuers on the way down but hopefully saving your bones in a pile of fortuitous hay at the bottom. And while this move seems immensely risky at first, you'll always land safely so long as there's plenty of horse-chow below, as it's all part of the contextual nature of Creed. Because, unlike other games, your movements and skills aren't attached to precise button pushes - although slick timing does of course play a part. Instead it's more about picking the right idea and letting the context take care of the rest. It's certainly ambitious too for, like a Medieval marionette, your limbs are tied to the controller. So pushing a moves your leg, be it to run up a wall, leap a gap or booting a downed guard in the chops. Two buttons, x and b, are your arms, with one controlling your selected weapon and the other dealing with more passive moves such as shoves, grabs and grasp. Finally, y is your head, which mostly controls your 'initiative' but if your hands are pinned in the middle of a scrap then it can dish out a nasty head-butt.

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