Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Edition

Altair of this pun eventually.

Just as before, we're not going to tell you anything. Well, we're going to talk about the game, obviously. We're going to talk about the slightly incongruous American killer running around the Middle East in an eagle garb severing jugulars. We're going to talk about the new PC-specific missions, and how it looks compared to the multi-million-selling console versions, and what kind of crackpot control scheme the console-to-PC converters have assembled this time.

But we're not going to talk about what happens apart from that. Because, well, you might want to be surprised. And we're not going to talk about Jade Raymond either, because we're bored as well.

So, Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Edition (let's call it AC/PC, and use the phrase "pioneering Australian hard-rockers", so we get some amusing Google typo traffic) is virtually identical to the PS3 and 360 third-person games. You play as Altair, an arrogant, quickly disgraced Crusades-era assassin working for a man in a black cape who sounds like Christopher Lee.

You get to run around massive openworld versions of Damascus, Acre and Jerusalem mining the crooks, couriers and careless talk for information, which allows you to hunt down and kill local arms dealers, minor despots and other naughty individuals who are all somehow connected. The best bit was and is that you don't just trawl the streets; you can climb virtually anything and race across rooftops, hopping precisely from beam to ledge to gangplank without sacrificing any momentum. All of which led some to christen it the next-generation Prince of Persia.

There's a streak of lofty pretention throughout, but it's quite tolerable. One of its most obvious influences is on the control scheme, which is in effect moving, turning the camera, running, jumping and walking, but in Ubiland is actually a marionette system with low and high profile moves, head controls and tickets to the opera.

On the PC, the WASD keys handle directional movement (there's no strafing), holding the right mouse button runs, holding shift makes you walk, and holding spacebar allows you to blend (spilling and seeping through crowds like a tall glass of death). Holding mouse2 and spacebar allows you to sprint and free-run. Number keys then select bits of your arsenal and, in time-honoured tradition, you hack away with mouse1.

There are some other bits, but you're probably free-running for the exits already, so let's just admit that it ties you in knots for a few minutes but then clicks and you rarely think about it again. Or you plug in a 360-style gamepad, which works automagically.

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AC/PC takes an already gorgeous game world and adds another million pixels, or more.

Pretty much all the cool things you can do are tied up in the "investigation" missions, information from which coagulates into a bloody mandate from the local Bureau chief to do some murder. You sit on benches eavesdropping on conversations; you pickpocket by walking along after people and grabbing at their purses while they're not looking; you bump people off in crowds so that informants will tell you things; and to find missions in the first place you clamber up vast towers, steeples and minarets so that the camera can swizzle around you while dramatic music plays, and Altair can take in the scene, before diving out of the sky into a bale of hay hundreds of metres below.

New to the PC are four additional investigation types. Archer Assassinations involve sneaking up on rooftop archers without alerting them; Merchant Stand Destruction Challenges are about smashing up merchant stands, amazingly (there was an unlockable Achievement for this in the Xbox 360 version); Escort Challenges have you guide a vulnerable fellow assassin about town.

Our favourite though is Rooftop Race Challenges, where one informant tells you that he doesn't know anything, but that another chap nearby does and can be reached by getting hold of him before he disappears. Convoluted though it is, translating this into a breakneck chase across rooftops, sprinting, leaping, vaulting and climbing with urgency, while a timer ticks down at the top of the screen, makes perfect sense. The ones we saw were quite easy, but if they're tightened up for later in the game then they could be among the standouts.

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