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Assassin's Creed 3 hunting: how to be the perfect predator

There's more than one way to skin a grizzly bear

Ladies and gentlemen, I have just conceived of another next-gen Kinect feature: the olfactory sensor. Or smell detector, as laymen may prefer. This component would allow Kinect to detect when your armchair sores are on the verge of turning septic and shut down the console, broadcasting a stern memorandum on the benefits of fresh air, sunlight and good circulation.

More compellingly, the olfactory sensor might also allow deer in Assassin's Creed 3 to scent your unmistakeable odour of stagnant Pot Noodle, lager and Stilton when you stand up-wind of them. Deer seem a bit too easy to entrap right now, happily tolerating the proximity of hooded men holding ominous lengths of bent wood and string. We should probably be thankful, mind you. It's amazing where - or more precisely, what - the slaying of Bambi and his ilk can get you.

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Hunting in Assassin's Creed 3 is practically a game in itself, one that promises to tie players up for hours between bouts of Brit-bashing and town planning. The frontier wilderness - setting for a full third of the storyline, Ubisoft tells us - is home to all manner of all-American fauna, including elks, raccoons, beavers, rabbits, turkeys, foxes and grizzly bears. Some take more science to kill than others. Some will eat the others, given an opportunity. All can be harvested for pelts, bones, oil and meat, which in turn can be sold or assembled into new items by using recipes at the right facility in your Homestead.

You'll be peeling and gutting a lot of animals, whether you make use of the produce or not, because if there's one thing Assassin's Creed 3 is crystal-clear on, it's that Ubisoft didn't raise no wasteful type in young Connor Kenway. Slaughtering the beasts without taking the time to scoop out their innards will eventually desynchronise you from Connor, much like murdering civilians in town. I wonder if the same eco-friendly principle applies when he steps on a spider. Is there much of a market for bits of arachnid among frontier folk, Connor?

Hunting itself is a two-fold business of locating your quarry and contriving to kill it without damaging the precious hide and vital organs. Sure, you can blow Bambi's brains out his ears with a flintlock pistol if you're loaded down with commodities and cash, but frugal operators will close the distance, taking advantage of thick patches of vegetation or low-hanging branches, and gut the poor dear with a hidden blade. Or alternatively, bust out the bow and arrow for a somewhat less damaging ranged kill.

The presence of animals can be deduced from the environment - half-eaten bushes denote rabbits, flat grass equals deer, broken branches are for foxes - which are helpfully flagged with eyeglass symbols. Truth be told, we'd have enjoyed the option to track a creature's spoor without HUD assistance - here's hoping for an optional "purist" mode. Wounded animals leave a blood trail, potentially attracting the attention of (other) predators who must then be soundly thrashed before they abscond with your kill.

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This boils down to QTEs, in large part. Wolf leaps for your face, time slows and you hit a button to dodge or bop it. Larger beasts appear to require slightly more elaborate tactics - you'll need to hit another button, grabbing a charging moose by the antlers in order to unscrew the beast's head and wear it like a hat. We wish.

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