It’s only been a year since the release of the critically acclaimed Assassin’s Creed II but a sequel is almost upon us. Though the first trailer and even the title seems to present Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood as a multiplayer spin-off, it will in fact ship with a story mode that directly follows on from the previous game. The following may contain some minor spoilers for the end of ACII and the start of Brotherhood. You have been warned.
Ezio can now summon help at the tap of a button
After the prior game’s shocking ending, Brotherhood picks up with Ezio escaping the Vatican. He makes it safely back home to Monteriggioni, briefly uniting with his family and allies before the city comes under attack by a surprise Borgia invasion force. After partaking in some of the new cannon game play, Ezio manages to cover the evacuation of the civilians but the city is lost. Cesare Borgia murders someone close to Ezio and captures Caterina Sforza before challenging the assassin to come and face him in Rome.
The focus then shifts back to Desmond Miles and the modern assassins still on the run from Abstergo. With their last hiding place comprised, they decide to head to the abandoned Moteriggioni and set up operations in the underground sanctuary. After Desmond resumes the animus chair, we see that Ezio has made it to the Italian capital and this is where the game kicks off in earnest. Here he has to build up a new brotherhood of assassins, disrupt the influence of the Borgia and ultimately take down Cesare.
As the name of the game suggests, a new focus this time is the use of additional assassins. By locking on to a target and pressing the left bumper, Ezio will summon his forces to strike. This proves useful if multiple targets need to be taken down without the player drawing attention to himself, or simply as reinforcements in an uneven conflict. If the target of your assassins is located next to a building your allies will often leap down from above, performing aerial kills before dispersing back into the city. When Ezio has more allies in his brotherhood he can summon them to fire a hale of arrows into a specified area.
The 'Cannon' gameplay will probably be limited to certain set pieces
The pigeon coops from the previous game make a return, but have been expanded to allow you to manage the brotherhood. While you can still accept assassination contracts through them you also can send your assassins on unseen missions throughout Europe to help level them up and find hints about where to recruit more.
Borgia towers play a key role in bolstering your forces and liberating Rome. Each houses a leader of Borgia’s troops and killing them removes their influence from that district. This leads to less guard presence in the region, allows for shops to be opened by citizens and provides an additional member slot in the brotherhood. Similar to Monteriggioni in Assassin’s Creed II, properties across Rome can be renovated for a cost. When purchased these provide a constant source of income for the player.
In terms of game play, much is the same as it was in ACII though a few new wrinkles have been added here and there. In addition to the mounted cannon sections, Ezio has two new ranged weapons at his disposal, the crossbow and poison darts. Horseback riding has also been expanded. Ezio can now ride them within the city, face mounted opponents and be able to perform horseback assassinations.
If the opening hour or so is anything to go buy, Desmond will have more to do as well. As he and Lucy travel underground to the reach the Monteriggioni sanctuary the player will have to work in tandem with her in solving a series of elaborate switch puzzles, occasionally boosting her over gaps and using the eagle vision ability.
Rome is the main setting for Brotherhood, although Naples and Spain will also be visited
Brotherhood isn’t as drastic a change as the Assassin’s Creed II was over the original, at least in terms of the story mode. Given that the new multiplayer is a big focus of the game though it looks like this’ll be pretty easy to look past. Whether you want to experience the next chapter in the Assassin’s Creed story or assassinate real players online, Brotherhood is shaping up to be an enticing and well-rounded package. Look for it on shelves November 16th for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, with a promised PC version coming in early 2011.
Most anticipated feature:The ability to summon your assassins at the touch of a button. Nothing makes you feel more powerful than having your minions do the dirty work for you.