In Assassin's Creed II, Ezio Auditore became a skilled assassin. In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood he became a master assassin and one of the most suave killers in video game history, casually lifting a finger to trigger a posse of minions to overwhelm his prey.
What you see here is the older Ezio of this fall's Assassin's Creed: Revelations in a mission demonstrated at E3. You're seeing Ezio in Constantinople, mid-way through the game. He's on a quest in Revelations to find five keys hidden by his ancestor, Assassin's Creed 1's Altair. As the mission seen here begins, Ezio learns that the next key he needs to find is not in the city. He needs to get out of there to track it down. What ensues is action-movie violence.
I was, in fact, surprised at how un-subtle the action in this scene was. Ezio seems less like a slick assassin and more like a super-powered warrior. I noted this to the game's level design director, Falko Poiker, that this didn't seem quite like the Ezio I suavely controlled in Brotherhood. He assured me that it is and that players simply have more flexibility in Revelations in terms of how they control Ezio. In the demo, you're seeing an Ezio who uses a new offensive, toss-able bomb type to walk up to guards and kill them. He also uses a slightly more stealthy smoke bomb, an upgraded version of the ones seen earlier in the series. But what we don't see, Poiker told me, is a third bomb type that can be used to attract or repel crowds and factions. That third bomb type is for players who prefer to hide in plain sight within crowds, an AC series tradition.
While watching this video, note the game's hookblade, which is used both as a weapon and a method for traversing ziplines set up by the assassins of Constantinople (their Ezio, a master assassin named Yusuf, can be seen early in the demo). Also take note of the flamethrower cannon late in the game, which, Poiker said, is a historically accurate weapon called Greek Fire.
This whole thing played out more like a Michael Bay action movie than I'd like, but I'm sure many will enjoy this. Poiker's comments alleviated some of my concerns, plus, hey, it's E3... they like to do things with a bang at this show.
I'll have much more about Revelations' singleplayer and multiplayer modes in the coming days.