A little over a week ago, we showed you a narrated video of the Assassin’s Creed Revelations Gamescom demo – and, a little disappointingly, the single-player demo that was shown at the 2011 Penny Arcade Expo wasn’t much different. When we saw it at the show, however, we had the privilege of being walked through by ACR’s creative director, Alex Amancio, who gave us new insight into the mission we thought we’d already seen.
First, though, here’s the demo in its entirety:
1. The presentation has gotten a big boost
OK, this we already sort of knew; one look at the faces in the Gamescom demo is proof enough that Revelations represents a big visual step forward for the series from Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood. But we didn’t notice quite how much had changed until Amancio pointed it out.
Above: And it goes a little further than this
In the early parts of the demo, for example, you can see snow and billowing volumetric fog, both of which are firsts for the series. Amancio also mentioned that the game uses a technique called “mocam,” which uses 2D camera footage to direct the movements of 3D characters. We’re not entirely sure why that’s a good thing or what it’ll do for the visuals (although lower costs seem likely), but it certainly sounds interesting.
Amancio also drew our attention to the way the camera shifts to the perspective of rifle-toting snipers when Ezio tries to climb a wall in the demo, giving players an idea of where and when they’ll be aiming. Apparently, that’s something that’ll happen a lot over the course of the game, both for dramatic effect and to let players know when it’s a good time to duck out of the way.
2. Bombs play a really big role
Since we first saw Revelations at E3 this year, its developers have been hammering on about the addition of bombs and bomb-crafting, although we didn’t quite realize how big they were going with them until we’d seen the demo. Bombs are divided into three categories – lethal, tactical and diversion – and each one is made of three parts: a shell, gunpowder and an “effect.”
The four types of shells (impact, fuse, tripwire and sticky) and three types of gunpowder can apparently be used with all three bomb types, but it’s the effect that determines what kind of bomb you’re making, and these range from “diversion” substances like stinky fluid and lamb’s blood, to lethal objects, like shrapnel. During our demo, we were also shown a tactical bomb stuffed with caltrops, which Ezio could smash against the ground to scatter little four-pointed spurs and stop guards from following him.
Other possibilities include sticky stink bombs or blood bombs (which cause momentary confusion as guards try to figure out who’s wounded), noisemakers to draw guards to a certain area, tripwire shrapnel bombs to booby-trap areas you know they’re going to investigate, and impact grenades to take down groups of enemies.
Bomb parts can be found in the game’s semi-hidden chests, and built at special stations scattered throughout the world (which are unlocked with Ezio’s hidden blade). According to Amancio, all the bombs in the game are historically accurate, and modeled after actual ordnance that existed in the 1500s. It’s also worth noting that Ezio’s not the only one who can use them; guards can throw them around as well, and in fact the game’s first glimpse of a bomb comes when a guard uses one to derail Ezio’s carriage in the demo.
3. Altair’s memories live in First Civilization artifacts
Since it was first revealed that Ezio would experience Altair’s memories in Revelations, we wondered how that would happen. Had Ezio just had too much contact with the Apple of Eden, and was experiencing a “bleeding effect” like Desmond had in the future? Or had he found some other way to unlock his ancestor’s memories?
Well, as it turns out, Ezio and Altair were never directly related to begin with. Instead, Amancio said, they simply occupy different branches of Desmond’s family tree (i.e. one’s on Desmond’s father’s side of the family, the other is on his mother’s). So instead, Ezio sees chunks of Altair’s life with the help of a handful of artifacts left behind by the mysterious First Civilization, which act as a precursor to the gene-exploring Animus machine.
Those artifacts, by the way, are also the four big macguffins Ezio’s hunting throughout Revelations, as they pull double duty as the keys to the Assassin library at Masyaf. Inside it is a treasure trove of knowledge derived from the Apple, and possibly things more valuable than that, making the game’s plot a race between Ezio and the Templars to recover the keys first.
There’s also a good reason for Ezio and Altair to share the spotlight: Revelations will be the final adventure for both characters, before the series (presumably) moves on to a new time period and a new set of ancestors (or possibly just Desmond, if AC goes the modern route). On the bright side, we’re also told that Ezio himself will follow a complete character arc this time, finishing Revelations as a different person than he was when he started. After the disappointing lack of character development in Brotherhood, that comes as welcome news.
Sep 2, 2011