Assassin’s Creed II – your questions answered by director Benoit Lambert

Wednesday, 30 September 2009 14:46 GMT By Patrick Garratt

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We asked you what you wanted to know about Assassin’s Creed II. You gave us questions. We went to London and asked them to game director Benoit Lambert. He answered them.

The results are below. For the record, what we saw of the game – a mission in Venice – looked incredible.

Did you get your question asked? Hit the link to find out.

Assassin’s Creed II ships for 360 and PS3 on November 20. The PC version’s just been pushed into the first quarter of next year.

FeaturePreacher: Is there any combat under water?

No. But you can hide under water.

FeaturePreacher: Will Ezio be able to rock enemies off boats?

Yes.

FeaturePreacher: Will there be difficulty levels this time?

You don’t have difficulty levels, but you have a progression that is not badly done. So you get better and better, and you learn things better.

Spiral: Can you treat the game as a straight up shooter? Can you run around and shoot?

No. You have a gun, but you need to be static to use it, and it’s not a gun that requires skills to target, really. You need to be patient. You look in your target, you hold the button and the reticle gets thinner and thinner on the guy. The thinner the reticle is, the more likely you are to hit the guy. If the reticle is very small, you kill 100 percent. You can shoot someone very far away.

Spiral: Can you skip cut-scenes?

You cannot skip cut-scenes, but we have a save system that saves just after the cut-scenes.

Dr.Ghettoblaster: What about multiplayer and DLC?

I can’t talk about it. Ask the PR guys. It’s what I’ve been told to say.

FeaturePreacher: Will there be any aerial combat?

Well, obviously you have the flying machine. You’ll be able to use it to kick people in the face while you’re flying. That’s it.

FeaturePreacher: Will Ezio be able to dismember opponents?

We cannot do that. But believe me, you have some nice fatalities. You have nice ones, like chopping up tippy-toes and stuff.

FeaturePreacher: Will there be opponents much larger and stronger than Ezio, where direct combat will be useless?

Yes. You have to use strategies. You know in AC1 you were doing a lot of contact kills to get rid of the guys? Here contact kills are not always the way to win.

FeaturePreacher: Will Ezio meet Galileo and be able to use his telescope?

I wish. Who is the guy who’s saying that? I want him as a designer.

Dr.Ghettoblaster: Are there any other vehicles in the game apart from the hang glider and the horse?

Yes. There’s boats and you have the caravan.

FeaturePreacher: Will Ezio be able to use the environment to beat opponents? For example, will he be able to throw a knife at a torch above a guard so it lands and burns him.

Weird question. Well, obviously you use the environment because he’s free-running everywhere. So you can use that as a tool to isolate, for example. We have “agile” enemies that are very good at following the player. If the agile is with a “brute” and you don’t want to face both at the same time, you can run onto a roof: the brute won’t be able to follow the player, but the agile will follow, so you’ll be able kill the agile then tackle the brute.

SticKboy: Are there day and night cycles this time round…

Yes.

SticKboy: …and how do they affect the shopping mechanic?

The shopping not. We don’t want the player to be a prisoner to it. Players might be frustrated if they can’t buy anything. Like, in GTA, shops are open at night, and if you didn’t have any ammo or anything you’d be very pissed off as a player. It doesn’t affect that, but it does affect things like the density of people you have in the street. So, as a gameplay tool is hiding in crowds, it affects the ability to hide.

SticKboy: Is there any sex in the game?

Ezio is a womaniser. There’s a bit of sex. I can’t say more.

SticKboy: How many frames of animation are there for getting off a horse, and what was the trickiest thing to animate?

My God, I have no idea how many frames there are. We’d need the animation lead, or something. What is important is that we try to find the right balance between responsiveness and beautiful animations. I think we have one of the best animators in the industry working on this. I’m pretty confident about that.

Animation-wise, I think the biggest challenges are two-player animations, two players interacting together. We have lots of weapons, we have lots of things: it’s not easy to track.

SticKboy: Are the NPC character models improved to match the quality of the player character model?

Oh yeah. We have, like, 30 characters in AC2, and three hours of cinematics. The cinematics are far more in a Hollywood style, far more good-looking. Definitely, we had to work on that. The main character we have not changed, although now he’s wearing armour and all the new stuff, we have to add those details on top of the character. It’s a lot of work, because we have a lot of upgrades and you can mix and match everything.

Spiral: How often do the missions repeat [We were told at the start of the event that there are 150 missions in the game – Ed]?

We really tried to make sure it does not repeat. I can’t answer the question, “Does is repeat?” I see one mission that’s similar mid-game and end-game, but in general, we really tried to make sure it’s different.

SticKboy: Are there any flags in it this time round?

We don’t have flags, but we have feathers. The flags in AC1 were pretty boring. You had 350 flags that don’t bring anything to the player. Here we have 101 feathers, because we don’t like a straight number, and at 70 percent and 100 percent you have gameplay upgrades. People like to grind, so why not?

freedoms_stain: Are you able to time your own jumps, or do you just run forwards and press A?

You can time your own jumps, but it’s not the way the game’s done. You won’t really take advantage of the game if you did that.

SticKboy: Is the free-running more complex? Will you be able to grab ledges straight away or will you have to wait to be upgraded?

Yeah, you don’t have to press B to grab a ledge. Everything is automated, like in AC1. People didn’t know how to play in AC1, actually. You hold RT for High Profile and you hold A. You don’t need to tap A. You know like it is in Zelda? You just go forward and the guy is going to jump. It’s the same. You press High Profile and the guy is going to do stuff.

A life-saver for your guys to know, is that when you’re in the air and you’ve done a jump without any objectives or anything to reach, hold B and if there’s a ledge the guy’s going to grab the ledge.

FeaturePreacher: Will Ezio get alternative costumes when you complete the game?

You can buy different colours for your costumes. So, not only can you upgrade your guy – you have 20 types of armour pieces that you can collect, you have around 30 weapons that you can buy, you have gadgets like smokebombs and poison and stuff like that – but visually you can change the colour of your clothes. We know that people like to customise. You have 14 different colours spread across the cities.

FeaturePreacher: Will Ezio be able to wield two weapons simultaneously other than the hidden twin blades?

You have one weapon in the left hand and one in the right hand, so you can kill two guys at the same time. And you have two hand weapons, like axes and spikes, which are very efficient weapons.

FeaturePreacher: Will Ezio be able to insult opponents in order to be able to lure them into compromising positions?

Obviously [laughs]. You can taunt your enemies. If you’re in a fight you can press Y and say, “Come on, guys. Bring it on.” It provokes them and ensures they attack.

SticKboy: What are the game’s “wow” moments to match riding out from Damascus, Acre and Jerusalem in AC1?

Climbing the Duomo in Florence is a big wow moment, because it’s the biggest church there was at the time, and it had been built over hundreds and hundreds of years. The building is massive, and if you look at it it’s really impressive. If you got to top of it you have a view of the whole of Florence.

There are lots of wow moments. Personally, I’m very sensitive to the fact that the character is going to grow from this bourgeois from Florence to a bad-ass assassin. You have wow moments not in the sense of, “Wow, this is amazing,” but very emotional moments.

rrod360lol: Do the 360 and PS3 builds differ at all?

No. PS3 is better than AC1: the framerate is higher. It’s the same game. The same engine.

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