So I’m almost done covering this year EGX, however there’s still a couple more experiences to get out from 2 gaming franchises that are actually more similar than initial appearance would have you believe. Their core gameplay both center around hunting down and taking out your target. With each iteration they expand in characters and weapons to try, which then may or may not be used on said characters. Both franchises have more trouble keeping to one timeline than a series of Doctor Who. I’m of course talking about Assassin’s Creed & Super Smash Bros. One, a collection of historical figures and an unrepentant murder fest, requiring a careful approach for the most satisfactory of kills. The other, Assassin’s Creed.
Standing tall against oppression and unnecessary business hashtags.
Starting with Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft had erected (don’t giggle) a private exhibition space to show a presentation on Assassin’s Creed: Unity. But before any of that, the first thing I spotted was “#UbiEGX” printed all over the outside walls. It took the following 24 hours and a google search for me to realise who they honestly thought would genuinely tweet that incredibly corporate hashtag. Ubisoft Employees.
Once in the 80-or-so strong viewing area we were shown the trailer shown at e3, a live demo of a single player mission to kill a Monsieur Sivert (we were reassured this could be played in multiplayer too), and an exclusive-to-EGX voice actors trailer going into the characters behind the main cast of AC:U. Though nothing was playable details would still be learned, but failing that at least we got to see a guard get teabagged in a cathedral.
In the upcoming Action/Adventure game our protagonist, Arno Victor Dorian sports a full health bar, which makes a change from the segmented life supply of previous titles. It seems things work more traditionally in France than they like to think they do. Another change is when scaling a building the ‘A’ button is “Free-run up” and ‘B’ is “Free-run down”; a much welcome addition. Despite being fairly new to the series it quickly got annoying to have to trust in gravity, a timed ledge grab and/or a forward roll across a platoon of guards every time I wanted to drop down 2 storeys.
At the start of the demo, it was made clear that this game prides itself on granting the player the ability to devise their own plan when tackling missions. During the mission introduction we were shown, through Arno’s eyes, clues for opportunities to complete the mission were shown. Monsieur Sivert is waiting for a man called Duchesneau. The head of security is planning to meet Monsieur Sivert inside. A monk had his keys stolen. All of these seeds may hold the answer to a mission’s successs. And at the end of the day I’m sure a couple hundred slashes of Arno’s new long sword will work wonders. This non-linear approach was slightly touched on in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. When attempting to loot a warehouse, the openness of the plantation, abundance of stalking zones and random walking routes of the guards means the player must work out a unique plan every time they get that uncontrollable urge to get 20 boxes of cloth. But, as ever, stealth capability is paramount over everything. Just because you possess the power to drop corpses like it were Christmas at Frank West’s house, doesn’t mean you have to.
How many assassins does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Moving on from the demo, the voice actors trailer revealed some of the cast in AC:U. We met Elise, childhood friend and potential love interest of Arno. She’s an agile, witty and resolute girl who’ll probably turn out to be more of a James Kidd-like companion than a Mary Read-like ‘one-that-got-away’. There was also Marco, a young, cheeky gent who’ll be sure to aid Arno with intelligence and maybe gadjets. A young man by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte (not sure if you’ve heard of him) will also appear. He is instrumental in the French Revolution whose intelligence and command of the english language earns him respect and power. Power that might be taken from Maximillion, a tyrannical, almost sociopathic but absurbly wealthy tycoon (if you don’t know what an 18th century French tycoon looks like, think the Dandy but 10% less ridiculous).
To close the speaker informed us of the chance to walk through the virtual streets of AC:U’s Paris via beta.projectwidow.net. Whether or not this had anything to do with the gift we were given on entry (effectively a Marauder’s Map of Paris) I’m not fully sure. But whatever, here’s a Google Street View of an environment from a game that you’ll be able to walk around in just over a month’s time. #UbiEGX.
Next, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue was available for a 20 minute demo. First things first, AC:R looks and plays exactly like AC:BF. Everything from the looks, to the controls, to the animations, it may as well be titled Assassin’s Creed 5: A Sequel With A Big Russian Dude. It was so similar, when I travelled to the ice encased North Altantic, I thought I had somehow entered AC3 multiplayer. It was SO similar, it made it all too clear that the decision not to bring it to Wii U was purely a business one.
The demo started off upon the wild waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Once again, the seven seas are alive with the schooners, brigs and frigates of the days of Black Flag, and I was tasked with wiping out half a dozen of them. Classic demo 101: pump them full of badass right from the off. One new twist arrived when a ship rammed my own, knocking our protagonist, Shay Cormac, from the wheel. When he and the crew regained their footing we found our ship under siege from enemy pirates. It was a shocking, dynamic little twist that brought the fight to my door, not to mention a pirate captain that needed a pistol-assisted kneecaping before going down. It’s hopefully a sign of many more twists and additions to a formula that was laid down this time last year.
A flock of penguins look on at Shay Cormac’s performance of Moulin Rogue.
A couple minutes and a couple wreckages later, we docked on a small trade settlement. Before I could sample the local fish new mission objectives appeared, kill the captain and 3 snipers. So I set about scaling a conveniently segmented tower to the left for a better look and oh as luck would have it, there was sniper number 1. Stab! 1 down. Clambering into a newly vacant watchtower, I pan the camera around and spot outposts 2 and 3. En route to outpost 2, a man lined in golden with an entourage of skilled soldiers walked passed. It didn’t take a genius to work this out, so after I turned off the eagle vision I moved into position to kill the captain. This is where I realised the difficulty must have been turned down as, admittedly, I couldn’t locate the lock-on button in the time frame while the captain was walking underneath the rooftop I was on. This kill was performed on manual, no autopilot available, but despite this the gang was dispatched without too much mess. It was interesting to see Shay Cormac’s dual kunai/sword combination. It’s seems symbolic of his stealthy assassin upbringing played off with his new proud, brash Templar life.
Another trip up a watchtower (and an unpleasant trip down for an unnamed member of personnel) and sniper 2 had been taken care of. Another sign of the lowered difficulty came when I intended to perform an over-the-ledge kill. After failing to lock-on again, Shay poked his head over the scaffolding like a murderous whack-a-mole. However, despite his field of view become very ‘serial killer-y’ all of a sudden, the sniper-wielding man failed to react. Oh well, his loss. Of life. Finally, the last sniper take down came and went without too much hassle, which triggered an animus wireframe scan animation that I can only assume denotes the mission completed. My 20 minutes were almost up so I spent the rest of the time performing as many freestyle kills with Shay’s blowdarts and swordplay. However, with the AI not set very high it was difficult to see what was truly capable. Once I found myself ambling up to a group of soldiers, started chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool, before embedding a silent blade in their tracheas. I still have no idea what the “firecracker dart” does. All-in-all, AC:R felt like a decent title for any assassin’s creed fan, although I doubt it’s story will be anything to write home about. It’ll probably be the MGS: Ground Zeroes to Unity’s Phantom Pain.
Eventually I returned to play Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. Through marvelous queue calculation and even more marvelous luck, I managed to play in a qualifying match where the winner would play Super Smash Bros. for Wii U on the big screen. The pressure was on to perform well. Earlier thoughts of “let’s use this as a learning opportunity, I’m going to use Little Mac” were now invalid. I can’t just try what I like, I need to come with my best and win. There is no ‘try’ in ‘victory’! …well, you get the point.
So beautiful. So not possible on a 3DS
I go with Toon Link, one of my mains. I’d been fearful that he’d undergo significant nerfing like his Project M form so there would still be a tingle of discovery in the match. I’m in a match with Mario, Bowser (I guess we should just leave them to it), and Marth. The stage is Gaur Plains. Awesome! I’d love to see the look of this stage on the 3DS. It’s one of the few stages that, though based on a home console game, is on the 3DS version with stages based mainly from handheld games.
The match starts. I’m placed on a lower platform underneath the main upper levels, an advantageous position with Toon Link if you know how to approach. I navigate the lower platforms to familiarise myself with their position before heading up with some Up+As and Up+Bs. Blows are traded with each player (don’t giggle) before I concede a life to Mario after about 30 seconds of this 5 minute match. Panic. I’m -1 while Mario is +1, with the other two approaching KOable damage levels. This score needs to be settled quick.
With a couple quick forward smashes I equal the score with Mario and after some deft appearance from below Up+A work, I land a KO on Marth. Bowser lands an almighty drop kick which sends Toon Link teetering down the middle of the stage like a pebble down the grand canyon. I remember more platforms available on the left so I push the control stick accordingly, hoping he grabs a ledge. Click, salvation arrives. Something that initially looked like a background plant actually revealed itself to be platform. A small gasp escapes. “There’s one reason to turn the 3D on”, I think as I rejoin the fight.
With some ‘edge of the blastzone’ pressure, I take another stock from Marth. The match is almost over, so focus shifts to preservation. By my count I’m on +2, that might be enough to see me through. Mario’s pulled off some good kills but besides the occasional super jump punch, I haven’t fought much with him. There’s no need to anger him when I’m on 80%. Eventually time gets called and a pause that feels like minutes passes. As soon as I see the triforce symbol appear on screen I know that my homeboy from Outset Island has pulled this match off and I’m going on the big screen. Final score: +4, apparently I’d picked up 2 Bowser KOs I had no idea about.
Fun fact: “Wuhu” is NOT the sound you make when you realise the plane you’re standing atop has no pilot.
I was about to be one of the lucky few at EGX to play Smash Bros on Wii U. Nothing could dampen my excitement. Well, apart from noticing a very limited character selection and realising this must be the build of the game shown at E3 in June. Admittedly, it’s a very spoilt thing to think when you’re about to be one of the few people in the world to get hands-on with it, but the build doesn’t have Toon Link so I’m in a dilemma. One of my other mains is Marth, who was selectable in this build, however, one of the competitors in my match said he would be using Marth. I’m not a fan of mirrors in a match so I decided to go with Mario. He’s not the best in 4-v-4 matches, but I’d used him in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and on the 3DS demo, so I shouldn’t fair too badly. The match was between Link, Mario, Marth and Sonic, 4 returning characters to the series, everyone was pull out their best hands. The random stage select rested on the Pilotwings stage. Let’s smash.
A whirlwind, knuckle-fest ensued with hits being launched from every angle. Arrows were fired. Flame punches ignited. Blue hedgehogs arced through the air like a rainbow. It was an exciting match to behold. Marth gave good with some nicely placed forward tilts, taking advantage of the wide area covered by the sword, as well as a fierce offensive when ledge guarding. Sonic aimed to stand his ground in the dangerous cocoon of his spin dash, and whenever he was knocked away, you’d be sure he would strike back with a swift down stomp. Link, aided with an arsenal of arrows and bombs at his disposal, evaded and struck predominantly with Link’s new dash attack, a move I like to call, the “happy slash”. I went for the full smash offensive, barraging anyone who’d get in the way with powerful attacks, pushing them off the planes and eventually to their demise.
Well, that was the plan anyway. I ended up getting no kills, spending most of the match clawing my way back to the stage. Once above 70% a quick punch from Sonic or a sword swipe from Marth had me taking a direct route to Wuhu Volcano. There was an early opportunity to nail Link with a forward aerial, spiking him to oblivion, but the cautious Link draw up a brilliant counter in spawning a bomb and blowing up the entire situation before things got ‘oblivion-y’. Another opportunity came where I summoned Arceus from a pokeball. Arceus’ power, Judgment, forcibly pulls nearby opponents down to the ground at a stomp of its celestial hooves. ‘But what if you’re flying through the air and you’re not over any ground’ I hear you ask? Arceus will pull you down till you hit something. Let’s just say things might get pretty obliviony, pretty quickly. And what’s that? Marth appears to be floating back to the stage, just as Arceus is about to demonstrate it’s power. And just as it was about to bring Marth’s world crashing down to him, the Pilotwings stage saw fit to exchange the planes, with the new plane receiving the players and the old taking my Pokemon god away with it. What in Arceus’ name is up with that?
If you ask Link for a thin sliced italian, be prepared for varied results
With some very nice happy slashes (and a healthy double KO with a hammer) Link won the battle, earning him a spot in the final. My saving grace, I also didn’t die once, ending with an unhealthy 174% and 2nd place. I can’t be upset with that. At least we put on a good show. It’s hardly important I had absolutely no influence in that match whatsoever. Right?
In the final 2 links took to the battlefield. A clear disregard for my no doubles rule, but the entertainment value made it forgivable. One Link was cautious, trying to evade and strike like in our match earlier. The other Link (plot spoiler, the one who won) was notably item happy. And not in a ‘look at that n00b relying on items’ way but in a ‘jeez, check out the weapon specialist go’. During this, and any big screen smash match I wasn’t participating in *smug look to camera*, I took the very mature choice, of losing my mind the moment any big attack connected. Among the most hyped of smash crowds it felt like the perfect opportunity to whoop, flail about wildly, and scream “my dick hurts” whenever it felt appropriate (which is WAY more often than you’d think). In the end all the happy slashing in the world couldn’t stop the storm of projectiles being hurtled his way. The match was soon decided; Link, The hero of timely boomerang throws, took the gold. Ocarina of Time? Moar liek…n00b of n00b, amirite?