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Roughing Up Redcoats With Style
by Tim Turi on Aug 31, 2012 at 04:20 PM

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Conner displays his acrobatic knack for murder in a sneaky rampage through Revolutionary War-era Boston. In the PAX Prime 2012 demo I saw today, the assassin employs new means for evading and dispatching the redcoats, including a few devastating close-quarters executions.

The demo begins with Conner perched on a rooftop in the colonial city as rain pours down. A horse passes on the street below, dragging along hay cart. True to the series’ tradition, Conner leaps off the building into the hay bail. Hidden from view, he stealthily dispatches a redcoat as the cart passes by, silently killing and dragging the body into the hay. A woman notices this murder, but instead of sounding the alarm, this enemy of England summons Conner to follower her.

 The player is seamlessly pulled into a sidequest as they follow the lady down a narrow alleyway. She tells Conner to wait around corner while she lures over a redcoat. She provokes a passing sentry towards her, allowing Conner to spring from the shadows for a quick kill with his hidden blade. 

Conner continues down the alley and comes upon two redcoats guarding a passage and one lone patrolman. He crawls through tall shrubbery to avoid being seen, then deftly scales a tree and walks out onto a branch high above the guard. Conner uses a spring-loaded projectile to fire a long tether into the man’s back. The assassin leaps off the tree, looping the rope over the branch and pulling the soldier into the air like a macabre piñata. The two guards see their friend levitating and come to investigate, opening up the previously barred gateway.

The passage opens up into a bustling market. Players can now blend with any two nearby strangers, no longer requiring large groups to go incognito. He stops by two gentlemen chatting by a shop and strikes a casual pose against a rack of farm equipment. Conner waits until a redcoat passes by then grabs him by the head and shoves his face onto the business end of a pitchfork. A fight breaks out as more soldiers rush in.

Conner dual wields a tomahawk and dagger against the attackers. The redcoats’ muskets are clumsy at close range, and the soldiers are no match in melee combat against Conner. The assassin swings his blades, hacking an enemy in the back with the hatchet here, and stabbing one in the face with the dagger there. He pulls out his twin flintlock pistols, dispatching two guards simultaneously with a ringing report. The hero retreats when an overwhelming number of reinforcements rush him.

Just as hope seems to be lost for Conner, a pack of his buddies rush up to him, disguised as redcoats. Conner places his hands behind his back, pretending to be under arrest. Escorted by his faux captors, Conner is able to sneak past enemy lines into a previously inaccessible section of Boston. After a moment Conner leaves his friends and scales a building. A large sailboat sits docked in a nearby bay. 

Perched on a rooftop, Conner takes aim on a guard below and fires a silent arrow into his neck. Soldiers guarding the boat leave their posts to examine their fallen brother. Conner capitalizes on the opportunity and makes a dash for the ship. He grabs a musket from a nearby gun rack and rams the bayonet into the back of the first guard he encounters on the boat. The redcoat screams and his friend turns to help him. Conner fires the musket through the man skewered to the rifle and takes out the other threat. With both men dead he is free to climb scale the ropes and masts of the boat, offering him a broad  viewpoint of Boston.

This is where the presentation ends, but it’s possible Conner continues his adventure by commandeering the boat for one of the high seas sailing sections we’ve seen Ubisoft tease. Everything about Assassin’s Creed III looks great, from the sprawling city to the intelligent NPCs. But what impressed me the most were the fluid, visceral assassinations. These beautiful, savage kills - along with the parkour navigation - have been the selling point of the series for me, and are looking better than ever. Assassin’s Creed III arrives on 360 and PS3 October 30.