Eyes on the prize, hands off the merchandise

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Ubisoft preview event impression by VDJomb

I was hoping to see something new but all that was on show was footage previously seen at E3, sadly without any sound. I’ve embedded the footage above each game so you can kind of see most of what I saw.

Getting past these disappointments it became obvious that this was the same alpha gameplay and when chatting to the UbisoftUK rep it was actual PS4 code running on PS4 spec PC, being controlled by the Rep using a Dual Shock4, but not an actual PS4 console.

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I wasn’t able to get my hands on the controller due to the fact that the amount of controllers in this country are very limited at the moment, he stated that of the “Ten in this Country Ubisoft have six of them”. I have now seen first-hand how good it looks, and could visually see the different tension in the dual analogue sticks in comparison to the current DualShock3. I couldn’t take any pictures of the controller or the games running so you’ll have to contend with my opinions on each game.

The first thing I asked about was asked about functionality the Touchpad, and the rep wasn’t able to give me any confirmed ideas of how it was to be implemented, but did explain that it was the same tech as a the Rear touchpad of the PSVita, but with the added ability to click it. As the re played through each game he discussed points of interest and highlighted extra parts that maybe would have been missed. I have previously discussed both of these game’s play-throughs in my Not So Liveblog of Sony’s E3 2013 Press Event here!

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The games itself does look really nice, Assassin’s Creed IV’s bustling cove looks great, character animations look tight, with large amounts of ancillary detail like a drunk throwing up, and another taking a leak up a tree. Edward then stalks into the lush jungle disturbing massive green leaves as he goes to reach his target.4107_AC4BF_SC_SP_07_JungleFreeRunning.JPG Taking out guards of the way, without alerting the target, before a final leap and trademarked double assassination. Then the spectacular multi flintlock kills, clearing the remaining soldiers in style.
It all kicks off and a volley of cannonballs rain down requiring Edward to do one to The Jackdore, his massive ship in a free running style, avoiding fire & explosions. Then seamlessly controlling the ship in the style of Naval battles from AC3. I did get to find out something new at this point. Edward is able to use a Spyglass to observe enemy ships, when you line up your view over one it will give details, such as Name, and bounty it’s carrying. This allows you to decide when to sink it or destroy it’s mast and plunder it’s haul.4104_AC4BF_SC_SP_03_NavalWarfare.JPG
The rep explained that the full game will give you the option to keep the ship to add to your fleet, along with recruiting sailors via the booty gained, such as rum.
The game does look next gen and I’m sure there’s still polishing that needs to be finished off. Thankfully the game didn’t keeps freezing like during the E3 PS4 live stage presentation but it did get stuck at a couple of specific points. It’s Alpha code so this can be forgiven but only as long as these issues are resolved in final version, and don’t remain like some of the horrible bugs in AC3. I also got to see the enormous Edward Kenway statue included in the Buccaneer Editions, it’s impressively detailed, with the assassin gripping a rope and his foot looped to it, whist hanging from the mast of The Jackdore.

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Strikingly this game does look incredible and more next gen than AC4. From starting with Aiden Pierce in a black car in the rain, the polished black bodywork reflecting the various light sources perfectly. The rain bouncing of the floor as it hits the car surface and tarmac. Subtle but bringing an immersive level of detail to the game. At a later stage I noticed the speed and intensity of the showers change, due to it’s interaction with the surrounds.
The car dynamics remind me more of Sleeping Dogs rather than GTA, as does the premise of this rescue mission shown. The rep explained when asked about the linear nature of the mission that other objects can be hacked, but the bottom left corner indicates the number of times you use specific actions are limited. After the target is safely away you have to flee the area to avoid apprehension. At this point the Rep explained about Mobile Phone functionality, saying that other gamers on phone apps can aid your escape. This was demoed on the system having AI take down a chopper and trigger road barriers sending cop cars crashing to an abrupt stop. These hacks can also be performed by the player, instead of someone external. Hints at the lack of always on requirements but an interesting use of second screen possibilities.watch_dogs_ss5_99858
Clear of the vehicle based plod, you run into a three man squad. As Aiden surrenders, triggering a blackout with your mobile, confusion ensues and you knock out the nearest copper with a telescopic ASP. Then aim a gun in slow motion at highlighted spots on the other two policeman’s knees taking them down with non-lethal force. I asked the rep if shooting the police in the head was possible or if you received a warning similar to the ones in AC games telling you not to execute civilians. He professionally sidestepped the question by explaining that in other missions hotspots appear in slow mo aiding with aiming at enemies heads or hearts for rapid executions.watch_dogs_ss9_99866
The demo ends with an escape on the moored speedboat.
I asked about the city in game and was told that it’s one big area, bridges can be triggered allowing you to jump over them on bike or in cars, hopefully this will not mean the deeply frustrating loading of sections required in AC3. The main objective seems to be the use of hacking pretty much anything and everything that’s connected, with immense potential for a brilliantly engaging emergent gameplay experience.

I sat through each demo about 4 or 5 times with the rep answering mine and others questions were he was able, he did mention about the amount of Promotion that is likely to be at the two big gaming events in Cologne and London. Which makes me truly gutted to not be attending either Gamescom or Eurogamer Expo but fear not dear readers we have reporters who will be. My major criticism of this event was that it didn’t really show off anything new, or show off the current footage on a massive screen with all the bells and whistles of 7.1 surround. These type of events are a great way to convince people, who are not online watching all the latest snippets for these two games but for the hardcore they feel a bit weak. It did seem to be convincing potential XboxOne buyers that the PS4 was a better choice, but I did hear people saying they were staying with Microsoft purely due to their gained achievement and Gamerscore.
I’d recommend popping down to one of these events if you really must see someone else play a game your itching to get your hands on. Or you could always watch more recent commentated demos via youtube in HD sat on your comfy couch.

VDJomb (Connor McKervey)

vdjomb

Thanks to Game Superstore in Hull and the Ubisoft rep for putting on an interesting appetite whetting show. All transport to and from the event was paid for myself, and no refreshments were provided by any company.
All images used are copyright of their respective owners

Official Sites: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
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Link to other Ubisoft events at Game Stores Nationally

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2 responses to “Eyes on the prize, hands off the merchandise

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