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

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

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François tells us that the streets of Boston are historically accurate, but that some artistic liberties had to be taken for gameplay reasons. When they realised that Boston's main streets were huge and wide (unlike the winding streets of previous settings), they had to place trees in the middle to give players a way of crossing them without dropping to street level. When the chase is over, Connor climbs a church tower and we see the city in its entirety. In the distance, black smoke fills the sky; a reminder that we're in the midst of a brutal war.

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WAR GAMES

After another fade to black, the final part of our demo begins. This time we're at Bunker Hill in 1775, in the thick of one of the American Revolution's most famous battles. Connor's mission is to assassinate a British general, which would be easy if he wasn't in a camp protected by 2,000 musket-wielding soldiers. Of everything we've seen in the demo so far, this is the most impressive, and the most unlike previous Assassin's Creed games. The scale of the battle is dizzying, and you really do feel like you're in the middle of a raging conflict.

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Rather than skirt around the edges, Connor charges head-first into the battle. As the British and the Americans fire their muskets back and forth, he slips through the chaos, dodging cannon balls. He waits for the British to fire, then pushes forward while they reload, which takes a few seconds. In reality it took upwards of a minute to reload a musket, but François says they had to shorten it to make the sequence more fun. After a dangerous dash through the battlefield, Connor slips into the forest surrounding the enemy camp.

The detour into the forest is another chance to show off AC3's fantastic looking animation as Connor clambers and swings to mount a tree branch. A group of British soldiers approach and the next system we're given a glimpse of is the sequel's revamped combat (Ubisoft hints the game's controls have been totally overhauled).

Connor aims and fires into the first soldier's neck with a new toy, the Rope Dart, which does exactly what its name suggests. Grasping one end of the rope our protagonist drops down from the tree branch, brutally hoisting his target by the neck to hang him from his former perching spot. Our man then shows off another combat addition by grabbing a second soldier to hold him as a human shield - useful when armed guards only have a single shot from their near-impossible-to-reload muskets.

Another addition we're told about - but now shown - is a new cover system, including cover assassinations, and a redesigned weapon wheel and only two face buttons on screen (compared to four) hinting at further changes.

Connor makes quick work of the remaining guards and approaches the enemy camp. Whenever you move through foliage like shrubs or tall grass, Connor automatically crouches. Stealth in general has been vastly improved, and forest environments are full of opportunities to sneak.

Connor skulks through the undergrowth and come across our assassination targe. He's on horseback in the middle of the camp, waving his sword and ordering his troops around. Connor bursts out of the bushes, takes out two guards with his tomahawk, and leaps towards him. We cut to a slow-motion cinematic angle of him lunging at the startled general, face twisted with anger, bloody tomahawk primed, and... that's it. There's a final fade to black, and the demo ends.

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