Key Features:

  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, WiiU
  • Release Date: 31 October
  • Price: TBC

Assassin's Creed 3

I can't help feeling a little self conscious as I sit down to play Assassin's Creed III. At a public booth, slapbang in the middle of the Adults Only section, 50 or so HDTVs are lined up all showing Connor Kenway, Creed's new frontman, leaping between rooftops and quietly knifing guards. #

It looks incredibly graceful, and stylish; once it's my turn to step up to the oche, I'm not quite sure if I'll be able to pull it off.

Though to be honest, it wasn't all my fault. Pressure of performing in public aside, my first - and only - gripe about Assassin's Creed III is that like it's older brothers, the controls are still very clunky.

When the new stealth sections demand more precision than ever, it gets to be a problem: The 'silent kill' button wouldn't silently kill, and Connor still has that annoying habit of climbing onto/running up/jumping off bits of environment that you don't want him to.

Cut his throat

More than once, I'd creep up to an oblivious guard and go to silently cut his throat, but my swipe would go wild; instead of tackling him before he raised the alarm, I'd find myself scrambling up a pillar.

But I got there in the end, and the rest of Assassin's Creed III that I played was very, very good - best-in-show good. After a quick bit of swordicuffs with the red-jacketed British army (Creed III takes place in revolutionary America), a passing Navy cruiser lets a cannon ball fly, turning the wooden fort I was sneaking through into a firey, crumbling inferno.

Cue running. Assassin's Creed's trademark parkour has been tweaked to perfection for this third outing, and feels a lot more physical. Where Ezio and Altair could hot-foot from flat surface to jutting outcrop with nary a stumble, Connor is a lot more clumsy.

Movement feels more labored; fall off something, and you hear the impact, before struggling to your feet and lugging off again. Every step, jump and twist feels like an effort for Connor; it made the building escape that much more tense.

And beautiful, of course. Thanks to Ubisoft's painstaking attention to Assassin's Creed III, fire and corpses have never looked so good. The crumbling fort was brilliantly lit up by the encroaching flames, and for every guard I had to take down on the way out, another load of bright red blood got sprayed on Connor's pristine robes.

Gory, colourful and flawlessly animated

Assassin's Creed III

Gory, colourful and flawlessly animated, Assassin's Creed III is the best looking game I've seen at Eurogamer so far.

The other half of the demo was Creed's real showpiece. Put in control of Connor's Navy galleon, I soon found myself in the middle of a vicious, choppy maritime battle. R1 ordered my men to fire the cannons, square told them to get in cover; the left stick was used to keep my ship from capsizing.

It was like a mix of Grand Theft Auto and Command and Conquer. I had to manage my crew, and keep them alive, all the while trying to get in position for a drive-by (or sail-by) musketing. I'd never played anything like it; with the waves hammering my boat and British cannon shot flying overhead, I felt scared and thrilled in a way games have never made me feel before.

It was a breathtaking change of pace for Assassin's Creed III. For the game to go from a fanickity stealth section to this full-scale battle suggests an enormous variety of action. If the cinematic trailers are anything to be believed, Connor could also find himself in the middle of Yorktown, Bunker Hill and other huge battles from the American War of Independence.

Let's hope so, as Ubisoft has proved it can do big action - the navy sequence was truly breathtaking.

And all too soon, it was over. When I finally scuppered my opponent's ship by breaking her masts with chain shot, the demo was over, and I was kicked back into Eurogamer with eager punters leering over my shoulder. Understandably, they couldn't wait to get their hands on Assassin's Creed III; with the 31 October release date just over a month away, neither can I.