PAX 2011: ASSASSIN'S CREED Panel Reveals New Moves, Story

 

Ubisoft brought some new footage and some guest stars with them to their presentation of Assassin’s Creed Revelations at the Penny Arcade Expo 2011 in Seattle. X-Play host Adam Sessler was the first to take the stage, reporting that he was proud to be there to moderate a short panel on a game franchise that he holds in great esteem. He then rolled a new trailer for the newest game in the popular historical homicide franchise.

 

The trailer heavily featured the now visibly aged Ezio as he battles enemies in Constantinople and among the mountains of the ancient home of the Assassin order in Masyaf. The many and varied uses of Ezio’s new hook/claw that appears to take the place of the blade on his left hand got the attention and cheers of fans in PAX’s main theater. Apart from using it to zip-line around the city, Ezio can also use it in climbing, to catch distant ledges, and even in combat. Several slow-motion kills were performed using the hook, including Ezio clawing someone behind him by the neck and dragging him over his back and on to his head or catching and disarming a foe by his wrist.

 

Slowly as the trailer continued, more and more footage of the original Assassin’s Creed’s protagonist, Altair, killing his way across the holy land at the time of the crusades, and for a brief flash, Ezio, Altair and a hooded Desmond was shown stalking down the same path. It finished with a flash of the release date, November 15, 2011 to great applause.

Taking the stage next was Assassin’s Creed Revelations creative director Alex Amancio to comment on the game’s first live gameplay demo. It began with what will be a playable wagon chase sequence along a darkened cliff-side, ending in the older Ezio thrown from his wagon and visibly injured getting up off the ground, though not hurt enough to have any problems dealing with a trio of henchmen sent to finish him off. As Ezio makes his way to his target’s fortress, Amancio commented that the game’s engine has been redesigned to allow for 3D volumetric fog effects and better clothing, hair and skin effects. Amancio also reports that Ezio himself as evolved. His age and experience have increased his powers, his Eagle Vision is now Eagle Sense, which allows him to track the potential movements of targets.

 

His technology has improved as well; Ezio can now lay trip-wire bombs on his downed enemies, which will trigger and kill enemies who move to investigate his lethal handwork. After this new mine detonated and took out two templars, other bomb types were demonstrated. A clanking bomb that will bounce off walls noisily to attract attention to it, and away from Ezio; caltrop bombs that strongly discourage foot pursuit; and to the greatest satisfaction of the PAX audience: contact explosives that Ezio can throw with perfect accuracy and will detonate with enough force to kill at least three enemies at once the instant it comes in contact with them. These bombs can be individually constructed at crafting tables in-world from different kinds of materials in combinations of casting, charge and packing. For instance a ceramic shell packed with metal caltrops and gunpowder.

 

As Ezio neared his target, Amancio noted that the game’s camera has been adjusted to create more dynamic views. Outside of more slow-motion kills, the camera will now zoom out contextually, in the example shown when a rifleman started to draw a bead on Ezio, the camera zoomed back to over his should as he prepared to fire at a distant, still climbing Assassin. Also during the climb, the camera zoomed back to show the target dropping one of his minions off the edge of the roof in an attempt to knock Ezio off the side.

Once at the top, Ezio made short work of his foe, and picked up of the plot-critical “keys” that Amancio described are actual pieces of ancient technology made by the “First Civilization” to word just as the Animus does. Using this key, Ezio took on the role of a teenaged Altair for some combat and interaction with his then master in a scene that takes place chronologically before the events of the original Assassin’s Creed.

After the demo, Sessler quizzed Amancio about this older Ezio, to which Amancio explained that he will start the game with his abilities and technology intact, but will then develop even further. On this game’s place in historical events, Amancio explained that this was Ezio’s story and will have more of him developing as a character.

 

Ezio’s voice actor, Roger Craig Smith then took the stage in dramatic fashion, welcoming everyone to PAX 2011 in the voice of the character and a black hoodie. After prompting, he explained the process in which he got the part being mostly luck. Auditioning using his regular voice, as originally instructed by the developers to insure that the character comes across, Smith notes the impact that the voice of driver Valentino Rossi had as well as a terrible attempt at the voice of actor Antonio Banderas had on his final version of Ezio. Amancio then reminded Smith and the audience with a laugh that Banderas is not Italian.

The floor was then opened to questions.

The first fan to the microphone asked if this new game is a continuation of the previous. Amancio confirms that it is in both points in time, it’s what Ezio does next and what is happening to Desmond after falling into a coma at the end of Brotherhood. Desmond was plugged back into the Animus to save his mind, but has plunged deeper into the system, through the ‘white room’ and down into the ‘black room’ which is like the “DOS” version of the Animus: more powerful, but unwieldy.

A question about Ubisoft’s DRM policy was passed by Amancio, it not being his department. On if the developers visited the locations in the new game, Amancio confirmed that they made to trips to Istanbul, which as it is called in the new game, Constantinople (why they changed it, we can't say; people just liked it better that way). To explain why Subject 16 could see his ancestor’s deaths if he was of their bloodline and therefore, by the rules of the Animus, could not see a life beyond the conception of the next member in the line, Amancio explained that Subject 16 is now like a ‘ghost in the machine’ and has seen the lives of everyone from a third person perceptive.

 

On another technical storytelling point, a subject blurred at Comic-Con International San Diego on Altair and Ezio not being direct decedents, Amancio explained that the are connected by branches of the same family, which could be inferred that they are technically cousins, albeit ones born in different centuries. Smith joked that they were adopted.

On Amancio’s inspiration for the game, he first got the idea to make his own games form the arcade version of Gauntlet, how the different characters in that game forced players to choose their own approach to playing it.

One fan asked about a potential new game focused on Altair. Amancio stressed that they have asked a lot of questions and done a lot of cliffhanger endings, it’s now ‘time to close some doors.’ He continued on to say that this is Ezio’s and Altair’s final adventure, a comment that drew a chorus of “awwws” from the crowd.

The final question was about the accuracy of the locations, and Amancio bragged that their version of Venice was being used in schools in Europe to tech about architecture. Smith chimed in with a story of a vacation to Italy he took and how on seeing the real-world version of historical buildings, he could brag that ‘he climbed that.”

The panel ended with a short show by YouTube artist Tobuscus who sang in his comedic style the ‘literal’ versions of the first Revelations and the final Brotherhood trailers, to great laughter and applause.

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