Our path to Garnier reveals an even more pleasing revelation in that the guards, who previously hunted us with more aggression than Jack Bauer after the death of a family member, have been toned down significantly - and for the better.
Before if we showed our face on a rooftop with an archer nearby, we'd guaranteed ourselves a 20 minute chase that'd end either in our bloody death at the hands of 40 Templar super-guards, or with a cowardly sprint all the way back to the training level. Now guards take a lot more intimidating to initiate a pursuit, and escaping them via either a roof garden, bench or breaking the line of sight is far more straight forward than in earlier code. Thank god, because before we almost threw the debug machine out of the window.
Our investigation leads us to the church hospital where Garnier's twisted experiments are going down (scaling the building, as always, was a joy) and we're introduced to the man through a cinematic of his henchman dragging in a fresh patient. All cut-scenes in Assassin's Creed are interactive in some form; although your view is locked at the action, you can move around at all times and button presses at certain points can initiate view changes. Welcome additions, because there's plenty of story.
Killing Garnier is easier than we thought. The crowded hospital means we can quietly approach the occupied geezer and stab him in the face (see, we told you we would). An epilogue (there's one for everyone you assassinate) helps explain some of the man's motivations and background story, which is satisfying to hear after you've heard half-truths about him from tramps and dodgy street dealers.
The escape that follows it the most intense, reaction-testing platforming crack the game has to offer. Do you take on the guards or run for the rooftops? Hide in the crowd or sneak through the backstreets? With the controls refined, switching decisions is painless, and we're enjoying it far more than we would've imagined one month ago. Look out for the full review in the coming weeks.