Everything We Know About Assassin’s Creed

Assassin's Creed

In terms of the sheer scope of its ambition there are few games that we know of that can hold a candle to Ubisoft Montreal’s long in development epic period piece, Assassin’s Creed. What follows is a collection of every single solitary bit of information we’ve been able to dig up, rustle up, sniff out and extricate from every corner of the web and print, for your convenience.

Read the entire article after the jump!

Assassin's Creed

In terms of the sheer scope of its ambition there are few games that we know of that can hold a candle to Ubisoft Montreal’s long in development epic period piece, Assassin’s Creed. What follows is a collection of every single solitary bit of information we’ve been able to dig up, rustle up, sniff out and extricate from every corner of the web and print, for your convenience.

If you haven’t seen the impressive CG trailer, you really ought to check it out, not only is it extremely cool, it’ll also give you a pretty good clue as to what to expect from the game.

Drawing from history, Ubisoft is crafting a game that takes the sort of action oriented acrobatic platforming gameplay seen it the landmark Prince of Persia games, and puts you in a playground the size of a city. Taking place during the Third Crusade, Ubisoft’s Montreal team have recreated the middle eastern cities of Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus for you to explore. Set in the year 1191, shortly after King Richard the Lionheart occupied the oceanside port city of Acre, the game places you in the boots of Altair, a freshly recruited member of the feared “Hashshashin”, a mystic offshoot sect of Muslim executioners from which the modern word “Assassin” is possibly derived.

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With a price in blood, that of the fourth finger of his left hand, Altair is rewarded with the killing weapon of choice among the Assassin’s, a retractable blade, a dagger, so chosen by the Assassin’s because it affords their victims the least chance of survival after an attack. Altair is inducted into the order to perform a series of assassinations that will bring an end to the Crusade, a mission for which his unique talents are ably suited.

Altair’s duty is to systematically eliminate designated targets that stand in the way the orders plans. As you would imagine, great emphasis is placed on the actual act of assassination, from the planning stages, to the kill, and finally to the escape.

The Kill, In Three Easy Steps

The very first thing you’ll need to do is acquire your mark, the poor sap you’re going to have to knock off. Once found you’ll want to perform extensive reconnaissance of the surrounding area, searching for the optimal routes of intrusion and escape. Allying with local groups such as bands of robbers, thieves guilds and religious orders could potentially aid you in your attempt as well. Assassin’s Creed eschews the shadows, silence and darkness found in games such as Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell in favor of what Ubisoft calls “social stealth”. The practice involves developing the ability to blend into your environment by mixing with crowds and forming alliances, thus increasing the chances that NPC‘s will aid you by providing protection, distractions or cover when you need it the most.

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After you’ve aquired your target and decided upon a clean path of escape, it’s time to perform the dark deed. Chances are pretty good that some of your targets will be guarded, so you’ll have to watch your approach, wait till you’re in close enough, and then strike with lethal efficiency. The designers at Ubisoft are aiming to bring the maximum possible amount of emotional intensity to the act of the kill. In those brief moments before you plunge your blade into your victim, you will see the fear in his eyes, and the gravity of taking a human life will weigh heavily on your conscience… at least that’s the idea.

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So the deed’s been done, you’ve killed the man and in the split second it took you to do it the cities guards have descended on you like a pack of hungry wolves. Not to worry though, this is where all that those ties you made in your initial planning stages finally come to fruition. If you worked things right, there a possibility you’ll get some help from thugs, beggars or other groups of people as they get in the way of guards, trip them up and generally cause a ruckus to give you those few precious seconds you’ll need to escape. If things get really hairy you can always try a little of that social stealth we talked about earlier, a good example of this can be seen right at the end of the trailer, Altair leaps from rooftop to rooftop, vaulting over walls and racing down dingy alleys in a vain attempt to shake the guards, finally they corner him in front of a pair of large wooden doors. As the guards advance, their eyes glinting murderously, the doors slowly open behind Altair and a group of monks attired in a similar fashion to our  Assassin emerge, the crowd flows around him and he is lost to the sea of people.


The idea is to pounce quickly, strike fast and disappear into the crowd, but sometimes things just don’t work out that way, sometimes you’re backed into a corner with nowhere to turn, sometimes the guards are bearing down on you and you’ve got nothing but your courage and your fists. Just because the designers placed so much emphasis on Altair’s stealth and methods of escape doesn’t mean he can’t handle himself in a tussle. Altair’s combat abilities are honed mainly toward the defensive end of the spectrum, if a guard attacks him and Altair has no weapons in hand he’ll stay loose and fluid, waiting till the very last minute to dodge and perform a parrying maneuver, but you’ll have to be patient and time your moves carefully to pull the action off. Be careful because just as in real life, you wont’ be able to take too many hits before crumpling to the ground. Disarm an enemy, or kill his mate with a deadly blow and he might fall to the earth, begging for mercy, or else do the smart thing and take off, running for his life, but let him escape and he might bring back reinforcements. Chasing him won’t be an easy matter, enemies are just as aware of their environments as you are, and they’ll use them to their advantage in the chase, darting up ladders, leaping from building to building and zipping through the crowds, you’ll be engaged in a heated pursuit that’ll tax your reflexes to the very limit.


Ubisoft compares their innovative new control scheme for Assassin’s Creed to the act of controlling a puppet or marionette. Context sensitive in its nature, the idea seems to be to create a system so simple that just about anyone can pick up the controller and within a few minutes be able to handle Altair with all the confidence and grace of a seasoned gamer. The left analog stick controls movement, while the right dictates camera orientation, with one of the right shoulder buttons acting as a toggle between high and low intensity maneuvers. For instance, moving the left analog stick will make Altair run, but holding down the right shoulder button will slow him to a walk .

The “X” button governs the actions of Altairs legs, jump across gaps and over obstacles with a simple tap. The square button covers his actions with weapons in his hands, sword fighting, stabbing, all that good stuff, while the circle button dictates Altairs arm movement when he isn’t holding a weapon. Moving through a crowd, you can press down on this to gently move people out of the way, and as you get closer to your target and break into a sprint, holding the intensity toggle will shove people out of your path with greater force. But there’s one more button, the triangle button, and you guessed it, it controls your head or more specifically, your mind. Also context sensitive, this button will sometimes change the camera angle to a first person viewpoint, or give you a unique strategic view on your target, or sometimes a cinematic angle that will let you observe the lay of the land… think of it as a descendant of the camera toggle in the Prince of Persia games. The mind button also gives Altair the ability to concentrate and translate languages, this being the Middle East, it’s likely the inhabitants of the city will be conversing in various languages and dialects, and listening in on conversations can provide you with with helpful little tips on target locations and give you a clue as to the best methods of approach.

Assassin's Creed

The developers at Ubisoft are aiming to make controlling Altair even more intuitive and fluid than controlling the Prince of Persia, to that end Altair is imbued with over 4,000 different animations that dictate the fluidity of his interactions with the environment, where our dear Prince was only capable of 800. This idea of fluidity and freedom of movement extends even to the world building phase, the programmers built the cities in such a manner that Altair is capable of grabbing hold of, or finding foothold with any object that sticks out more than two inches, in other words, the city is your playground.

Technically Speaking

Powered by the Scimitar game engine, the Third Crusade comes alive not just in its stunning visual presentation, which renders every battle worn street, grungy back alley and sun bell tower in startling detail, but also in the way the cities are populated. In most videogames non playable characters are placed on a set path, like mindless zombies they walk to and from their destination without any real goals or objectives. The NPC’s in Assassin’s Creed all have different needs, wants, tendencies and desires. Some will feel the need for entertainment and seek out a jester or minstrel in the town square, others might get hungry and look for a fruit sellers stand, another might get tired, and just stop to sit on a bench for a bit, still others might be short tempered and irritable and likely to break out in fights.

Assassin's Creed

One of the coolest things about the game is the way in which it handles NPC artificial intelligence. Since a large portion of the game centers on blending in and fitting in socially, anything odd that you do is likely to draw unwanted attention. Start running around, pushing people and jumping about like a ninny and folks will begin to stare, some might even get angry and start a fight, strike a cool pose atop a building in broad daylight and someone might spot you, stopping to stand a point, naturally it won’t take long till the guards take notice of all this.

In a sense the world of Assassin’s Creed is very much like a next generation version of Grand Theft Auto, except much smarter, and far more immersive, and with a distinct lack of prostitutes, and drive-by’s. Similar to GTA, Assassin’s Creed conveys environmental sentiment by using a tolerance meter. Act up and the tolerance meter rises till it finally reaches the point of getting the guards on your back, now you’ll have to find a place to lay low till it drops enough that they give up on you.

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The Assassin’s Secret

If you wish to remain completely spoiler free then skip this paragraph, however, if you’d like to know what’s being whispered in hushed tones across the internet about Assassin’s Creed, highlight the following text with your mouse, by dragging your cursor over it:
Rumor has it Assassin’s Creed does not take place entirely during the Third Crusade, and that the game is actually a look into the past by an ancestor of the assassin pictured in these screens. They say the game will take players through time, all the way from the 12th century and into the near future. Whether all this occurs in the span of a single game is unknown, though we personally believe this story arc unfolds over the course of a planned series of games.
Secrets end here.

What Platforms Will It Come To?

Right now that’s the million dinar question. Upon its initial unveiling at the Tokyo Game Show of 2005 Ubisoft debuted the game under the work in progress title of “Project Assassins,” at this time all indicatitions pointed to the game being a PS3 exclusive, particularly as the first teaser was shown as part of a collage that included a number of high profile PS3 titles. A few months later, as they generally tend to do in cases like this, things got complicated. A supposed Ubisoft release list was leaked which listed a game called “Assassin’s” as in the works for both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 (curiously it also listed the title as in developement for the PSP and Wii). Ubisoft wasted no time in invalidating the release list, denying that the information contained within was accurate. But wait, the plot thickens! At E3 this year the game featured heavily as part of Sony’s showing, and Ubisoft employees demoed the game using a PlayStation 3 controller behind closed doors. Case closed right? Not quite. Shortly after E3, 1UP.com contacted Ubisoft representatives in an effort to put the mystery behind Assassin’s Creed’s multiplatform ambiguity to rest, with less than stellar results:

1UP: Is Assassin’s Creed an exclusive title for the PS3 or is it only announced for the PS3?
Ubisoft: “Assassin’s Creed is coming to the PS3. No other announcements have been made.”

1UP: So it is not exclusive?
Ubisoft: “Assassin’s Creed is coming to the PS3. No other announcements have been made.”

Doesn’t really help all that much does it? Basically the bottom line is that Assassin’s Creed is definitely coming to the PS3, and it might come to the 360 as well, at this point no one knows except Ubisoft. Whatever platforms the game ends up coming to, it looks like it’s shaping up to be something very special, everything we’ve seen and heard points to a release around March of 2007, but these things are never set in stone. We hope you’ve enjoyed this extended look at the game and invite you to talk about what you’ve read in the comments below.

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