At Ubisoft's recent "Ubidays" press event in San Francisco, the company showed off in-the-flesh, often playable versions of its hottest fall releases, like Tom Clancy's EndWar, Haze, and Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway. But Ubisoft's most highly awaited game, Assassin's Creed, was nowhere to be seen on the event floor. The company instead sated attended press with a brief presentation by producer Jade Raymond and a scant few seconds of new gameplay footage. Honestly, we couldn't glean much in the way of hard details from the trailer, but of course we're going to report on any new public exhibition of such a sought-after game, however slight. Besides, we'll cut Ubisoft a little slack on this one, since the company is promising a public hands-on demo of the game at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in just about six weeks.
First of all, the new trailer doesn't even touch on the science fiction tie-in at the end of last year's E3 demo. Raymond says fans will have to wait until even after this year's E3 to find out anything more about the game's potentially time-traveling or otherwise futuristically influenced plot twist (though we're betting we won't find out what's really going on until we play through the game for ourselves). We do get to see more new cities from the Crusades (set roughly from 1100 to 1300), such as Jerusalem and Damascus, as well as an area Raymond somewhat cryptically referred to as "the Kingdom." These areas are roughly 15 times larger than what we saw at last year's E3. Moreover, the engine now supports 150 discrete computer-controlled characters, each with independent AI, so it sounds like the team is working hard on filling out those medieval expanses for the final game.
The trailer doesn't show off a lot in terms of new gameplay, but it does seem to place an emphasis on equestrian combat. We were pretty into the retractable blades that you'll be able to hide underneath your sleeves (which can be seen in the trailer), but then, we like to look at the game's hero Altaïr as some sort of medieval ninja. The last gameplay element we got any info on was the leap of faith, a move that will facilitate your quick exit from the scene of your nefarious doings. Raymond says missions in the game won't end when you perform the kill; escaping from the area will be as important as taking down your mark. You'll be able to make a leap of faith from predefined high points (indicated by specific imagery, like a flock of birds) onto soft spots like bales of hay below. The team wants to offer exciting chase sequences in the final game, and this move sounds like an important part of those mechanics.
Ubisoft is promising a lot more on the game at E3, so we'll bring you more (including hands-on information) in July. And make sure you view the new trailer, linked at the top of this preview, to tide you over.