On August 26th, 2007 an 11 minute demo of Assassin’s Creed was shown at the PAX 2007 by Ubisoft Montral’s Creative Director, Patrice Desilets. Too bad Jade Raymond, the producer of Assassin’s Creed, wasn’t there… there would have been a page dedicated just to her! The level that was shown was the same as in the E3 demo, however a different path was taken to reach the target. At the end of the demo, a conversation between Altair and the head of the Assassin’s bureau in Jerusalem, Malik, showed an intense rivalry between the two.
Patrice started the presentation with a short timeline of the development cycle of Assassin’s Creed:
- December 2003 – Prince of Persia Sands of Time
- January 2004 – Core team starts Assassin’s Creed
- September 2005 – First Announcement at TGS 05
- March 2006 – Presentation at GDC
- May 2006 – First Presentation at E3
- September 2006 – First On-Stage at X06
- July 2007 – First hands-on at E3
- August 2007 – First Presentation at Penny Arcade
- November 2007 – Assassin’s Creed is released (analysts speculate Nov. 9)
The game takes place during the Third Crusade, in the year 1191. The player assumes the role of Altaïr (??????, Arabic, “The Flying One”), a member of the Hashshashin sect (the original “assassins”), whose objective is to slay the nine historical figures who are propagating the Crusades. As the player finds and kills these targets, their conspiracy is unveiled. The player will be able to travel through three cities: Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus.
The environment is completely interactive, from the people to the historically accurate cities. These cities are populated by many people, and the way the player controls Altaïr affects how the bystanders around him react to his presence. For example, when going through a crowd, if the player lightly moves someone out of the way, it will not have a significant effect. However, if the player throws someone to the ground and kills them, the crowd may unite against him and he will then have to find a way out. Similarly, if the player shoves a person aside, they may shove him back. If he climbs walls, civilians will gather around, attracting unwanted attention from guards.
The producers of the game take pride in its historical accuracy. The locations in the game are distinctive models of the cities. All of Altaïr’s targets are also historic leaders who died or disappeared in the year 1191 (though not necessarily assassinated).
The start of the demo is with Altair climbing up the back way of the side of a castle. There are two guards with their backs to him, and Altair takes them out very quickly. Of course, other guards are alerted to this, so our assassin starts running through the castle, which is an opportunity to show off what the game can do. While Altair is running to escape, he was able to destroy a wooden ledge, brining heavy barrels down that take out several guards in a corridor. Altair was also able to commandeer a horse, which gives him a distinct advantage over his foes. He wields his sword and takes down guards as he speeds through castle corridors.
The next in-game trailer shows our anti-hero hopping from rooftops, and then he grabs a ledge. He climbs up and looks over the town. Another part of the trailer shows various combat moves and combos. Altair’s movements were all very elegant, and he disarms his opponents with impressive skill and grace, and never gets old watch. One guard falls off a ledge to his death because he isn’t paying attention to the close quarters of the rooftop. After our favorite assassin has skillfully dispatched all of the enemies, then starts jumping between rooftops again.
There is extreme environmental interaction between the characters and the world. The levels were designed to represent freedom in real life, and Patrice stated that all the level ingredients should be justified and make sense. Patrice then showed us an actual screenshot of the extremely crowded city model that seemed to stretch on for miles, and stated that every nook and cranny is completely explorable.