Recently, Ubisoft began the travelling art exhibit, “Art of the Assassin,” in partnership with Rock the Vote. I was fortunate enough to catch the exhibit when it stopped in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood on September 28. There, I got to see some spectacular artwork by various artists, a few from within the gaming community itself, listen to some tunes by DJ Skee, and demo the upcoming Assassin’s Creed III: Revolution, as well as meet some of the team behind the game.
Fans of previous AC titles will no doubt see much they are familiar with, in the form of the backstory, mechanics, and feel of the game. My gorilla thumbs prevented me from fully taking advantage of the demo, but I was able to gather enough to know this game takes things to a slightly higher level.
One of the features, recently revealed, was the inclusion of Naval Combat and maneuvering. At certain portions of the game world, you are able to go on missions that take place on board a vessel, and go toe to toe with other ships. Weapons included a swivel cannon, and an entire battery of naval guns on either side of your ship. Speed affected maneuverability, and sometimes you face more than one opponent. In this particular build, I was watching the player take on ten other ships, which were attacking. Steering the vessel to broadside the enemy is an effective tactic, and if you do it just right, it is possible to destroy several targets with one volley. Damage to your own vessel was cumulative, and if you took a shot to one of your guns, it will be inoperative.
The large game maps of the Assassin’s Creed franchise return here, with all the familiar elements we love. Whether leaping from rooftops, or skulking the streets and forests, keeping a low profile is key to avoiding having the entire British Army trying to kill you. Wanted posters with your face on them dot the city, so you may want to do something about them.
The thing that amazed me was the level of historical detail that I saw in the game. Some of the buildings in 18th Century Boston are still present today, and if you walk the streets in game or in real life, you will find familiar landmarks. Ubisoft utilized a team of historians and artists to get even the most minute detail down, and I liked what I saw. True, you cannot get that one hundred percent feel, but come on, we are talking about a video game that is set in a time nearly 250 years in the past; a little slack is reasonable. One thing to note about this in game image above, this picture was taken with an Android Phone while sitting on a couch, watching a television screen during gameplay; don’t let what little graphic quality that may be missing throw you off.
Of course, we all remember the various characters the player is able to interact with in the various Assassin’s Creed titles, this makes a return in the game. Certain points will trigger cut scenes, or start missions. Beyond that however, you can go so far as to interact with other details, such as petting the dogs, to feeding the chickens. I did specifically ask if you could kill those little bastards, because of my compulsion for fireballing chickens in Skyrim, I was told “No” by PR man Alex Monney, who gave me an odd look for some reason. But going even further, when pursued by enemies it’s possible to get away by stealing a horse and riding off; just hope the aim of the Redcoats is not good, otherwise they’ll shoot that bastard right out from underneath you. Oh, rats? Yep, a lot of them, scurrying all over the place, it reminds me of quite a few uncomfortable places in the world I have been to. It’s little details like this that immerse you.
Beyond the game was the actual Art of the Assassin exhibit, with pieces going up for auction to benefit Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan organization that aims to get the younger generation involved in the politics of our Nation. Rock the Vote was in force that night, and you could not even enter the exhibit without one of them asking you if you were registered. The push was strong, and while I do not have any figures that tell me how many voters registered because of the show, their table was never slow.
The pictures themselves were of differing quality, with some rather abstract and others of a quality I would not expect. All of the artists featured displayed some serious talent, and I wanted to make off with more than one picture.
Events such as these cannot happen without the hard work and dedication from a team of professionals, who love their job. I visited the exhibit with the express intent of meeting two of them, Stone Chin and Alex Monney. Stone, Alex and I have bantered back and forth online for some time, and have found myself quite entertained by some of their antics. I met several others, but Stone was my host, and Alex walked me through the demo. I found both to be pleasant, professional and most of all, generally good people.
I gained an appreciation for the work that goes on behind the scenes, beyond the actual building of the game; I talked to Stone and Alex, and asked them how their schedules were looking. In a word, busy. I remember my own days of travel, coming home, and leaving again within a day or two, and theirs is just as strenuous. Sure, you get to work in video games, and go to all the great shows, but the key word here is WORK; you WORK in video games, and the folks I met lived up to that, albeit with a smile on their face.
The Art of the Assassin exhibit was a fun time, where I met some great people face to face, and look at one hell of a game, that I know you will enjoy. I wanted to look at things myself, before I decided to buy Assassin’s Creed III, and I can definitely say I will be laying hands on this one as soon as I am able.