There are mainly two types of people who get into the field of games journalism – those who love games and those who just kind of fall into it after a journalism degree. Of the two types, the first group seem to last longer and the second leave as soon as better and more credible journalism opportunities present themselves.
For the record, I’m one of the former.
I’m telling you this so that you can more fully appreciate all the social awkwardness and long, silent stares that are involved in any games press event. That’s how it felt at first when I got to the Ubisoft UK office to preview Assassin’s Creed for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.
I was one of the last journalists to turn up and everyone else, a crowd of about twenty or so, were sat in the office’s kitchen eating pizza and staring at their feet. Ubisoft PRs flitted about organising things and trying to coax conversation out of attendees, but whenever a conversation got started it would soon peter out and die. Games journalists don’t like socialising as a rule, so these events are always kind of slow to kick off.
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Of course, the team at Ubisoft are professionals and as soon as everyone had had their dutiful fill of pizza we were wheeled off into a different room and the Ubisoft team broke out it’s secret weapons.
Comfy chairs and a big TV.
Hands-Off the AC
The leather chairs were big and comfy, with cushions so deep, black and enveloping that Stephen Hawking could have written a book on them. When everyone had got comfy, a figure stepped forward from the corner of the room – stylish flat cap, a pair of aviator sunglasses on his collar and a fashionable little necklace. Straight away, I could tell he was foreign.
Well, that and I knew he was foreign anyway because I met him at Ubidays.
“I’m Patrice Desilets,” he said as everyone settled down, appreciating being taken out of the kitchen and put into their element; big TVs, comfy chairs and games consoles. “I’m the Creative Director for Assassin’s Creed.”
“I want to start by showing you just a little bit of the game and letting you ask some questions. Then you can all go next door and play the game.” He flicked the TV on and started up the latest trailer for Assassin’s Creed.
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When the trailer, which all of us must have seen a hundred times, finished then Patrice started up the game. Altair, the main character of the game, appeared on the screen in his full assassin’s costume. He should have been standing in a city during the Crusades, ready to stealthily kill kings and princes, but instead he was standing in the middle of a grey cloud.
The cloud flickered with computer symbols and double helixes. A string of phrases about using the ‘Animus’ and memory access flashed on the screen. Immediately, I had a question so I went to raise my hand.
“We can’t talk about any of the ‘future’ or ‘sci-fi’ stuff. Players will find out about it themselves about 30 seconds into the game, so it isn’t a big thing. We just want to keep some surprises for them – which means we won’t be answering any questions about that,” said Patrice in a thick accent which was either French or French-Canadian. My hand fell back down, my question defeated. Such is life, I told myself, and settled in to watch a little more of the gameplay and bide my time before I could go hands-on with the game. Hopefully I’d be able to find a clue somewhere…