Thursday 11 May 2006
Rumours have long swirled around about the existence of this game, which casts the player as a member of a shadowy brotherhood of killers determined to end the third Crusade - even if they have to kill every powerful figure on both sides of the conflict.
Now, after seeing the fully-revealed game in motion and being demoed a brief mission by Ubisoft, we're thinking 12th century Jerusalem is a very interesting place.
Clad in a monk-like hooded white robe, lead character Altair is at least as mobile as any virtual hero this side of Spider-Man. Any surface that sticks out two inches or more can be climbed, so it's entirely possible to scurry up walls or scaffolds with an ease of effort that would make a gymnast jealous.
The control system is very easy to remember thanks to the fact that everything is context sensitive - you simply press either the 'leg' or 'hand' buttons depending on whatever you want to climb. Once that's done, you can use the rooftops to move virtually undetected.
Above: Push your way through the interactive crowd and people may grow hostile towards you
This is a critical ability, both because of the nasty work you do with weapons - including a sword, throwing knives and a sneaky wrist-mounted, retractable dagger - and because people react to your actions.
The crowds in Jerusalem have minds - if you draw your sword, they might run. If soldiers are running after you, a brave - or foolish - soul might tackle you to help out. If you push your way through too brusquely (using the 'hand' button and possibly the R1 'shift' button to dictate how hard or soft you want to shove them), you'll attract unwanted attention.
The crowd dynamic factors heavily into the gameplay as an assassin wants to be inconspicuous - the fact that non-player characters are aware of their surroundings and your actions can potentially cramp your style.