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Assassin's Creed II

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Release Date: March 16, 2010 (US), Q1 2010 (EU)

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'Assassin's Creed II' (ALL) Developer Q&A

by Rainier on Aug. 21, 2009 @ 12:09 a.m. PDT

In a vast open world environment, Assassin's Creed II invites players to incarnate Ezio, a privileged young noble in Renaissance Italy who's been betrayed by the rival ruling families of Italy, and seeking vengeance.

Q: Who has the honor to speak with us? State you name, rank and occupation!

My name is Patrice Desilets, and I am the creative director over at Ubisoft Montreal.

Q: What are the specific technologies you developed for this second episode of Assassin’s Creed 2? Are there any particular achievements you’re proud of?

PD: What I’m particularly proud of is the new game architecture allowing much more diverse gameplay and missions in our engine. We also have enhanced NPC navigation showcasing parkour-like acrobatics that will spice up the chases and escape missions in the game.
Now, for the visuals, the Assassin’s Creed game engine – Anvil – got some awesome new technical features that let us create a world with an even better visual treatment.
We have many new technicalities we added in the engine that affect the graphics in the game and improve the overall visual treatment:

  • Night and day cycle
  • New load distance for more detailed open-world environment from greater distances
  • The same internal vegetation technology used in Far Cry 2
  • Several rendering improvements to support improved lighting, reflection and more special effects.
  • New cloth system used extensively for characters

Beyond the technical achievements, the very location we chose poised us to make a visually outstanding game. Cities like Florence and Venice are amongst the most stunning landscapes in the world and all the technology we developed just served this purpose, made you feel this beauty. We are not only recreating the architecture but also everything that makes Italy so unique during the 15th century – from the special lighting of Venice to the colorful carnival disguises. Every minor detail was important for the artists and they are very excited for players to get their hands on the game and explore such a stunning city.

Q: Venice featured prominently in the AC 2 demos we've been shown so far, what other cities/regions will players be able to visit?

PD: Ezio is a young noble born from the city of Florence. He will live the beginning of his life in the city that is considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. His family is well respected by the Florentine society. Florence is known for having some of the most beautiful churches and monuments to come out of the Renaissance. The most prestigious and dominant building in Florence is Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as The Duomo. There are many other landmarks that players will want to discover: Santa Croce, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Santa Maria Novella etc. The first sequence of the game will be set in Florence and players will get to meet Ezio’s family, friends and his enemies.

As the game progresses, Ezio will have to travel to various cities and regions. There is of course, Venice, as you have discovered in the demo, and this is just a small portion of the world of Assassin’s Creed 2. Players will discover the famous Tuscany region, known for its beautiful and fertile fields as well as the town of San Gimignano. Beside Tuscany and San Gimignano, there are the mountain regions that players will have to go through on their first journey to Venice.

Another region players will get to discover is the wetlands, situated to the west of Florence. This region is known for its continuous flood, cloudy weather and its various aquatic plants. Players will get to explore and perform various missions in the city of Forli, deep within the Wetlands.

It was important for us that each city, regions and sub city have an important role in the game. We didn’t the countryside to be a simple walk in the park for the players. They will all have their role in the game and will require players to invest time in them. Each region will have its main, secondary missions. There will be lots of exploration and time investment for the player to discover all the secrets behind each location.

Q: What are the Secret Locations?

PD: The Secret Locations are interiors of several famous landmarks. You can discover their entrance in various regions of the game. The gameplay in these locations will challenge the player in acrobatics, puzzles and stealth. These locations are not bound to the main quest but offer hours of additional gameplay, details about the story of the assassins/templars war, and a special reward as players complete each of them.

Q: What is the chase gameplay?

PD: Ezio can control a horse carriage in the Italian countryside to reach his destination faster and escort people alongside it. Guards will try to jump aboard the carriage… This is one of the surprises we have in store for the player.

Q: What is the armor upgrade system and the character customization?

PD: So far you’ve learned that there is an economic system that lets the assassin collect money through various ways and make the most of the tools at his disposal. Weapons, tools, ammo, faction service, and doctors will be available for our assassin to spend his hard-earned money. There is still much to reveal to what players can do with their money.
In Assassin’s Creed 2, there will be an armor upgrade system where Ezio will be able to upgrade various armor parts: Shoulders, chest, boots etc. There will be different armor ranks and each of them will offer better protection as well as a new look to Ezio. Also, there will be tailors in Assassin’s Creed 2 that will be able to customize the color of Ezio’s outfit.

Q: Tell us a bit more about the poison blade?

PD: The poison blade is another one of the cool hidden blade upgrades that Ezio will get from Leonardo Da Vinci. The poison blade is a needle that the assassin will have attached to his fore-arm. He will only be able to use it when he is in low profile. The needle is very small and can be used without the target noticing it. When he stings his victim with the needle and its poison, the victim continues his tasks until he starts losing his balance and finally, falls into a “berserk” mode.  The victim then starts attacking everyone surrounding him. If it’s a guard who is poisoned, he takes his sword out and attacks with it. This creates a lot of commotion and attracts the attention of guards in the area. After a few seconds, the victim dies and guards come to investigate. Thanks to this commotion, the player will already be far from his victim and the attention of the guards.

Q: How do we recharge the poison blade? Who are the doctors?

PD: As revealed before, there is a new economic system in Assassin’s Creed 2. Players will be able to buy weapons, tools and hire factions in the game. To recharge the poison blade, players will have to go see a doctor that will sell him poison vials. Doctors will also heal Ezio’s wounds when he is hurt. Players will have to find a doctor in the city and pay him to get patched up.

Q: What is the animus database?

PD: We have worked hard to improve the animus in Assassin’s Creed 2. As in the first game, the animus is a machine that lets players explore the genetic memories of his ancestors, but this time, it will have a database, giving extra information about all the key locations, characters and services that the player will encounter during play. For example, when the player approaches a famous church – like Santa Maria Novella in Florence – with a simple button press, its history is revealed. This is only one piece of the database; however, the rest is a secret…for now.

Assassin's Creed II, developed by Ubisoft Montreal, is for a scheduled Holiday 2009 release on NDS, PSP, PS3, X360 and PC.

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