When redcoats barring a road request to see Connor’s papers he breaks and makes a run for it. Running through an open market, Connor vaults waist-high objects, slides under others and runs on moving surfaces, such as carts. Turning right, he jumps through an open window into a building to the horrified shrieks of the resident.
Line of sight is broken and the pursuit comes to an end. As Connor catches his breath he finally looks out towards Bunker Hill, crowned in cannon-smoke. Dull flashes sporadically identify the positions of the continental batteries, and seconds later the corresponding deep boom reaches Connor at his vantage point atop the tiled roofs of Boston.
The demonstration jumps forward a final time, and now Connor is mounted at the foot of Bunker Hill. Ubisoft has redressed how Assassins begin missions. Rather than approaching a static character, Ubisoft wants players to feel as if they are arriving in the middle of a scene.
To that effect, Connor arrives at the Continental position in a lull in the battle. General Israel Putnam is addressing his weary soldiers before the third British wave begins its attack. True to history (or at least to its most common attribution), Putnam concludes, “Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes!”
The bedraggled blues slump to their posts. Connor approaches Putnam and provides a few choice, scathing remarks before lifting a telescope and sighting his target, an officer amongst the British ranks. Identifying as a Native American displaced, Connor has no abiding love for Europeans whatever their uniform, but more importantly, as an Assassin his fight is with the Templars. It just so happens this one is also a British officer.
As Connor descends the cannon-pocked slopes of Bunker Hill towards the British position, the scale of Assassin’s Creed III is thrown into sharp relief. Whereas previous instalments were restricted to 100 non-player characters on-screen, Assassin’s Creed III can display up to 2,000. Ranks upon ranks of British troops discharge their muskets into the Continentals as Connor weaves his way through the ragged colonial line of battle.
Skirting the periphery, Connor comes upon a small detachment of British soldiers rushing to bolster the third British offensive on Putnam’s position. The fighting system has also been entirely overhauled. Player combinations and enemy tactics, enemy archetypes and systems are all new. With musket and bayonet, the British soldier is most deadly to Connor at some range, but Connor has some new moves to minimise the danger until he can close on his enemies.
As the British pause to cautiously consider Connor, he employs a rope dart to ensnare a foe and string him up by the throat. A nearby soldier is grappled and used as a human shield to absorb a volley of the King’s lead. Next, Connor pulls out a flintlock pistol to quickly dispatch a third redcoat just outside of melee range.
Finally in range, Connor unsheathes a large knife and pulls a tomahawk from his belt: the redcoats’ clumsy bayonet drills are no match for our Assassin’s dervish of two-handed melee. Connor deflects with one hand and attacks with the other effortlessly, he ducks under thrusts and changes targets with ease. It’s almost cinematic.
Now behind the British lines, Connor can clearly see his target with the naked eye. Throughout Assassin’s Creed III, there are zones that, if approached cautiously, will provide additional stealth options to Connor, and subsequent additional assassination options. However, with numerous redcoats in the encampment, Connor chooses to perform a new running assassination.
Unlike previous instalments where being sighted by a single enemy alerted targets to the assassin’s presence, here Connor has the ability to perform a high-profile kill before the target can gather his wits and react. Connor barrels through startled redcoats, springs off a rock and buries his tomahawk into the bewildered British Templar.
It's a demonstration that's over all too soon. If the less-inspired Assassin's Creed: Revelations led Gameplanet to wonder aloud whether the series had finally crested, our brief time with Assassin's Creed III appears at this stage to suggest otherwise.
All eyes should turn with some renewed enthusiasm to E3 where we'll next learn more about Assassin's Creed III.