Ubisoft were determined to go out with a bang at this year's E3 press conference, and what a bang it was. We were treated to a beautifully animated CGI trailer, something the team have always excelled at in fairness, before being launched into an astounding live demo of one of the more explosive missions Ezio will be undertaking this time around.
While Revelations won't be attempting to break any new ground in the series, everything we saw in last year's Brotherhood has been ramped up to exhilarating new heights. The CGI trailer opens on a morose note, with the robed Italian being escorted to his death at the hands of a particularly mean-looking Templar. We, along with Ezio, catch glimpses of Altair here and there, before the visions disappear once again. In true Assassin fashion, just as we think it's all over for our hero, the rope already tight around his neck, he turns to put up one final fight, and the screen cuts to black.
Ezio's aged features give us a sense of the time that has passed since the events of Brotherhood, but he's no less agile for it, as the live demo was soon to show. Flash-bombing the two guards, Ezio makes his way towards a huge tower, attached to which is a chain that's serving as a barrier across the harbour. Disconnecting the chain wouldn't feature nearly enough 'badass', and instead Ezio ends up taking down the entire building, which crumbles as he is engaged in his first fight. Here, we see the new 'hook blade' make an appearance, using it as he does to zipline away from the falling tower. In combat, it is used to essentially skewer a guard, before dragging him towards his assailant to receive the final death blow. It's silky smooth, and we're looking forward to getting our hands on it.
It quickly becomes apparent that Ezio isn't the only assassin on hand at the dock, as several other white-robed figures engage his enemy. It seems less like an assassin operation at this point, and more like all-out war, fuelling the 'epic' nature of the title. There's no doubt that Revelations is the climax of the Auditore saga. As if there wasn't enough dock-based carnage already ensuing, Ezio mounts a ship's front-mounted flamethrower (yeah, that's right), and bathes the harbour in fire. The spectacle is impressive. The sky fills with smoke and its blue tint is quickly tarnished by a scorched red as the flames begin to consume the ships.
Making his escape, the hook blade's second use becomes apparent, as Ezio begins to free run across the ship's mast. Explosions trigger around him as he runs and swings across the decks, the hook blade attaching itself to hanging ropes and ziplines. The spectacle is a feast for the eyes, and showcases some of the tweaks that have been made to the engine in the graphics department, such as water clinging to Ezio's clothing from wherever he was submerged. The animations have also been upgraded, with Ezio clinging realistically to objects as he is thrown about the deck.
We can be sure that Revelations will handle very similarly to the previous AC games, and its main objective is to wrap up all the open ends regarding the relationship between Ezio, Altair, and of course Desmond. One point of note was the teaser right at the end of the demo, which depicted the animus 'failing to reinitialize'. Upon resetting itself, we are shown a doorway in the middle of a grassy hill, white light spewing from within its frame. It's a cryptic image to end on, and one that will prompt untold amounts of speculation, but that's just one more way in which Ubisoft, and the Assassin's Creed team, have secured their place firmly at the forefront of this year's E3 expo.
We'll be sure to bring you more news on the title as and when we get our hands on it.