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"Cinematic experience" is a nonsense term and isn't achieved by frame rates

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"Cinematic experience" is a nonsense term and isn't achieved by frame rates

Lately, many AAA developers have been striving for a strange, intangible thing: the “cinematic experience". It’s a term that has become synonymous for developer-imposed limitations, a clarification or an excuse to explain why a game is - usually technically, but sometimes thematically - restricted in some way. 

There is nothing innately wrong with limitations, even within the power fantasies of modern gaming. But problems arise when this crude term is thrown into the mix. It implies a horrible end-goal, where what games really need to be more like are films. 

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Michael Ironside thinks the recasting of Sam Fisher was a "great idea for Ubisoft"

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Michael Ironside thinks the recasting of Sam Fisher was a "great idea for Ubisoft"

For eight years and six games, Sam Fisher was synonymous with the microfilm-gargling baritone of Michael Ironside, the Canadian actor and Starship Troopers survivor. But he was ousted for last year’s (actually excellent) Splinter Cell entry, Blacklist. Asked about the publisher’s decision in a Reddit AMA yesterday, Ironside waxed entirely unbitterly about his time as the don of Third Echelon.

“I think it’s a great idea for Ubisoft," he said. “They’ve gone to motion capture, and this spring I will be 65 years old. I don't think anyone wants to pay money seeing a 65 year old Sam Fisher bounce around on set, stumbling while he kills people."

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Watch Dogs 2 will build on player's ability to "humanise" NPCs through profiling

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Watch Dogs 2 will build on player's ability to "humanise" NPCs through profiling

Watch Dogs’ citizen profiler has proven to be one of its more divisive systems. While some dismissed its randomised text descriptions as shallow, player mileage seemed to vary according to the leaps of imagination they were prepared to take.

Creative director Jonathan Morin wants to push that “space for interpretation" in the sequel, and build on Watch Dogs’ foundations for “systemic contextual narrative".

“You can humanise the people around you," he said of the game’s successes. “That I definitely see as the beginning of something that is quite unique and could push the industry forward."

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Far Cry 4 trailer reintroduces Pagan Min with kidnapping, torture and an absurd chase sequence

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Far Cry 4 trailer reintroduces Pagan Min with kidnapping, torture and an absurd chase sequence

I’m not especially interested in Far Cry 4’s dapper antagonist, Pagan Min, and wasn’t planning on posting this trailer that reintroduces him. Ubisoft makes more trailers than I can keep up with, anyway. But then I decided to watch it, and I changed my mind. 

The tiger and elephant attacks certainly look like a good time, but they are topped by a high speed chase involving a quad bike, a plane and a wingsuit. Oh, and of course an explosion. Direct your eyes below for the turned up to 11 silliness.

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Assassin's Creed Unity DLC finally takes us to China on a quest for revenge

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Assassin's Creed Unity DLC finally takes us to China on a quest for revenge

Ubisoft has pulled back the curtain on its post-release, season pass plans for Assassin's Creed Unity, and the publisher has managed to squeeze in a welcome surprise. 

Along with the expected stuff like new weapons and customization options for Arno’s Parisian adventure, a new story campaign will take the Assassin out of the French capital and into the crypts of Saint Denis. 

Far more interesting, though, is a standalone game separate from the story of Unity, set in 16th Century China with a female Assassin, Shao Jun. 

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Assassin's Creed Unity co-op trailer makes murder stylish

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Assassin's Creed Unity co-op trailer makes murder stylish

I’m not certain if I want to go back to regular Assassin’s Creed after the swashbuckling adventures of Black Flag, but the opportunity to jump across the Parisian rooftops with three buddies is certainly a tantalising one. 

Ubisoft’s got another stylish trailer for Assassin’s Creed Unity that’s probably not actually representative of the game but looks and sounds good anyway. Slap your eyes on it below. 

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The Watch_Dogs DLC Bad Blood plays better than the base game

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The Watch_Dogs DLC Bad Blood plays better than the base game

Watch_Dogs was divisive. Controversial. In all honesty, despite the stick it received, I really liked and admired its ambition. I liked its open world - I liked the paranoia it generated by having other hackers invade and track you. I loved its sense of prurient power: listening in on phone conversation, picking and choosing who to hack based on their background. 

But it had problems. The lead character, Aiden, was a fence-post in a trench-coat. The mid-game Enforcer bosses ruined the stealth combat. And it just didn’t feel like it was taking advantage of the tools it had created.

I’ve played about half of the game’s forthcoming DLC, Bad Blood. It feels better. Aiden is barely mentioned - you play as the far more interesting artist-demolition’s expert T-Bone. He is gruff and interesting, wears a bit too much denim, and looks like he needs a good wash. He has a new toy: a remote controlled car that can flit through small tunnels and ducts. 

But most importantly, in Bad Blood Ubi’s game designers have started to figure out how to expand on Watch_Dog’s core conceit: hacking.

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Assassin's Creed Unity's Heist missions make you a thief as well as an assassin

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Assassin's Creed Unity's Heist missions make you a thief as well as an assassin

With a name like Unity, it’s not surprise that Ubisoft is pushing the co-op aspect of the latest Assassin’s Creed. The Brotherhood mode has already been shown off, so now it’s time to delve into the Heist mode. 

Creative director Alex Amancio and an assassin chum slink through underground catacombs in order to steal some lovely Templar treasure in a new developer walkthrough. And it’s not at all clear why the entire mission can’t be completed solo. 

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Steak out: Watch Dogs' Bad Blood campaign makes a protagonist of T-Bone, does co-op

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Steak out: Watch Dogs' Bad Blood campaign makes a protagonist of T-Bone, does co-op

Bad Blood is a new excuse to career around future Chicago and fiddle with the bollards. It turns out Blume Corp whistleblower T-Bone boasts a skillset similar enough to Aiden’s that he can stand in for the great grumpykins in a whole new campaign.

At the end of the month, we’ll follow the anti-hippy hacker through 10 missions in new locations, and take on co-op contracts - a Watch Dogs first.

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Ubisoft will release three open-world games in the space of eight days

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Ubisoft will release three open-world games in the space of eight days

Ubisoft are good with numbers. That’s why their investors like them. But we suspect that, if the French publisher were to take a calculator and tot up the average hour-count of an Assassin’s Creed game on Steam, they’d find they’ve made a whoopsie.

The average PC gamer has time to potter about three open-world games in a year, if they’re lucky. But come November, Ubisoft are going to unleash three in just over a week.

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Put away your hidden blade: Assassin's Creed Unity delayed by two weeks

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Put away your hidden blade: Assassin's Creed Unity delayed by two weeks

I don’t think it’s wise to put much stock in Ubisoft’s release dates. Assassin’s Creed Unity now joins the vast majority of the publisher’s games to be hit with delays. It’s only a very short one, though. Instead of launching in October, it’s been pushed back a fortnight. In the US, folk will be able to get their hands on it come November 11th, while European, African and Middle Eastern customers will have to wait until November 13th. 

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Watch a man and his elephant go clay human shooting in Far Cry 4

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Watch a man and his elephant go clay human shooting in Far Cry 4

There’s a feverishness to Far Cry that seems to seep from the games into the Ubisoft staff making them. Executive producer Dan Hay has been working on the series for three and a half years, and has finally reached the Heart of Darkness. Or should that be Far Cry 4’s Shangri-La?

“You get to this point in the game where you leave the dev behind and become the player," he intones.

“You can pick up a grapple, you can grab a piece of meat and you can basically become a hunter, and you can climb on top of an elephant, you can get on top of a mortar and you can nuke guys from above."

There’s a little of that madness in the footage below.

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Ever imagined an Assassin's Creed MMO? Unity's producer has

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Ever imagined an Assassin's Creed MMO? Unity's producer has

In some ways, Assassin’s Creed is prime MMO material that wouldn’t be tarnished in translation: it’s already about bunny-hopping through a world filled with visible artifacts, that flicks on and offline without warning.

Vincent Pontbriand made the same point last week without any mean jokes at the MMO genre’s expense. The Assassin’s Creed Unity producer said he’d “love" to build a massively-multiplayer entry in the stealth-parkour series.

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The killing fields of Far Cry 4: from civil wars in forests to magical tigers in spirit realms

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The killing fields of Far Cry 4: from civil wars in forests to magical tigers in spirit realms

Far Cry 3’s islands were lovely, but most of the world was tropical forests and pristine beaches. In Far Cry 4, there are three distinct areas with their own challenges beyond chaps with guns. 

Ubisoft’s been showing off the diverse locations at Gamescom, but you can get a glimpse of the killing grounds without going to Cologne. 

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This Assassin's Creed Unity GamesCom trailer is bloodless and beautiful

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This Assassin's Creed Unity GamesCom trailer is bloodless and beautiful

Did you know? Assassin’s Creed Unity protagonist Arno is named after the noise you make when you trigger the wrong contextual action and send your robed killer hurtling off a church spire and into a courtyard full of imperialists.

There’s none of that going on in Ubisoft’s GamesCom demo. Instead, a series of vignettes revealing the texture of Parisian life that we’ll be pushing, shoving and shanking our way through.

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Hacker holiday: Watch Dogs leaves Chicago and visits Camden, New Jersey in new DLC

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Hacker holiday: Watch Dogs leaves Chicago and visits Camden, New Jersey in new DLC

Watch Dogs brand of shooting and hacking is leaving the city of Chicago and heading to Camden, New Jersey. The shift to a new city will arrive in the form of some new DLC, due out this autumn, according to the Watch Dogs Twitter account. 

The teaser image attached to the tweet notes that Camden had the highest crime rate in the US in 2012. “A 24/7 surveillance program is now in effect," it boasts, ominously. 

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Arno races the guillotine in a new Assassin's Creed Unity CG trailer

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Arno races the guillotine in a new Assassin's Creed Unity CG trailer

It’s always a little strange when new CG trailers get churned out for a game that we’ve already seen proper in-game footage of. Mind you, the latest CG trailer for Assassin’s Creed Unity is a smart one, with lots of flash and acrobatic shenanigans. 

It also introduces a woman, in case you were wondering is Unity would have any of them. Yep, there’s one. She needs to be rescued first, though. Ah. 

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