Previews

Assassin's Creed 3: First look demo - everything you need to know

An early look at Ubisoft's ambitious sequel...

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Suddenly, the quiet ambience of the forest is interrupted by the sound of thundering drums and flutes. Below, a platoon of American soldiers are making their way down a dirt road, led by a marching band. At the back of the group, two soldiers pull a cart filled with hay - which can only mean one thing in an Assassin's Creed game.

Connor skips from the top of the cliff onto a nearby tree and positions himself above the convoy. When the cart passes, he dives into it. François tells us that these new moving 'leaps of faith' might look simple, but are incredibly difficult to program. Safely hidden in the hay, the camera pulls back and we see that the soldiers are marching towards the city of Boston. But just as we get a tantalising glimpse of the enormous city, the screen fades to black.

CROWD CONTROL

Assassin's Creed III takes place between the years 1753 and 1783, and the next part of our demo appears to be set several months after, or before, our trip through the snowy forest. We're in Boston, and it's the height of summer. This is our first glimpse of the AnvilNext engine's new crowd tech, which allows up to 2,000 characters to appear on screen at once. The city is teeming with life, and we're stunned by the way NPCs interact with Connor, and each other.

Zoom

A salesman walks alongside us, excitedly hawking his wares, before giving up and wandering back to his stall. A dapper gentlemen saunters past, spinning his cane and whistling, and bids us good day. A lady drops a crate of apples, and a street urchin runs past and steals one. An inquisitve dog barks at us. This all happens in real-time as you walk through the city, and it's brilliantly immersive. The term 'living, breathing world' is seriously overused by developers of open world games, but in this case, it's warranted.

Connor's journey is interrupted when he stumbles into a checkpoint guarded by British soldiers. They immediately recognise him, and enter alert mode. Rather than stay and fight, Connor pushes through the guards and makes a run for it. He sprints down a wide street, leaping over market stalls, swinging on tree branches, and skipping across a moving horse and cart. He climbs a tall tree and swings on a branch towards a building. The window shutters swing open, and a woman shrieks in panic. Connor jumps through the window, rushes through the woman's house, and emerges on the other side. It's a thrilling, dynamic chase sequence, and from what we can tell, totally unscripted.

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