I'm sure I'm not the only one who recognises the original Assassin's Creed as the flawed masterpiece that it truly is. As a debut outing for Ubisoft technology that since gone on to power the likes of Prince of Persia and Shaun White Snowboarding, it remains a supremely impressive visual spectacle. And while there are no doubts that the gameplay is compromised due to a basic lack of variety, Assassin's Creed works simply due to the scale and beauty of the open world it created, a world so compelling in its own right that I played the game through to completion and enjoyed it hugely.
What we have here is the E3 gameplay debut shown at the Sony conference - our first chance to evaluate the sequel and to see what the two years of development have brought us. Our main impression tech-wise is that the game has improved its shadowing system significantly over the first game, but it's still clearly the same engine, with the same strengths and weaknesses - both of which speak for themselves in this video. We've paid enough tribute to the spectacle Ubisoft has created here (let's face facts, it looks wonderful) but the one thing we hope is improved in the final retail code is the disappointing levels of screen tear.
There's a good chance that it looks worse in the video than it actually is when sitting down and playing the game. A 30FPS game like AC2 will alternately between an intact frame and a torn one when you study the 60Hz output of the console. Internet video decimates the frames down by half, meaning that either torn frames are removed completely, or stay on-screen for twice as long as they would on your actual display. We're literally only getting half the picture here, but what we're seeing is a bit worrying and like the first game, clearly has an impact on overall image quality.
So, moving on to the video itself, here's a chance to relieve last week's E3 reveal in beautiful HD, with the footage once again complemented by technical analysis from Digital Foundry's Alex Goh.
I'm running the version of the video including the developer voiceover because so much we're being told here is exactly the sort of stuff I want to hear about the new game, and I hope it similarly enthuses you guys. The focus has clearly moved from Assassin's Creed being 'just' an incredible technical showcase and is now all about what is continually referred to as 'diversity' - what we hope translates into a range of gameplay mechanics every bit as epic as the superb tech powering one of the most beautifully realised open worlds in the current generation of gaming. The emphasis of the development effort is clearly now on gameplay ideas as opposed to technology. What we see of those ideas in this video is both compelling and exciting; I'll be following this one very closely...
Update: Previously nerfed video has now been fixed.