Gamescom 2010: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Campaign Impressions - Assassination & Liberation
Written Saturday, August 28, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
If we were being honest, the Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood demo at E3 caught us a little off guard. It’s very rare that a sequel churned out in less than a year can add so many new features, that it warrants a purchase. I’m not talking about multiplayer here either, oh no, because in our eyes, Assassin’s Creed always has and always will be a single player experience. We’re talking about the new brotherhood mechanics, the improved combat, the new weapons, the Rome upgrade system, the new kill moves and even the new elevators and such. Not bad for a year’s work, huh? At Gamescom, we got too see a few of these new features, mainly the Rome upgrade system and the brotherhood mechanics in action. Oh, and a parachute as well… crazy!
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is the first time in the franchise where we revisit the continued story of one of Desmond’s ancestors. Taking to the streets of Rome, which is said to be 3 times the size of Venice - and after glimpsing at the map, that sounds about right - Ezio must build up his brotherhood and take down the Templar threat in the Italian capital and more importantly, take revenge on the latest thorn in his side, those pesky Borgias again.
Picking up with Ezio in the Antique District of Rome, Ubisoft Montreal kick things off in style, leaping off from a building onto one of the local horse-riding militia; dispatching him to the afterlife and stealing his horse in one swift move. But wait, if you thought the air-to-horse assassination kill sounded cool, how about horse-to-horse? Spotting an armoured steed, Ezio suddenly flicks himself off his horse and onto his new thoroughbred in an instant, taking down the guard on horseback as if he never existed in the first place.
Spying a couple of guards who stand guard outside one of the district’s shops, Ezio calls in for some brotherhood assistance to take them down. BAM. Two assassins drop off the roofs above and Ezio loses one of his two Brotherhood Assassin Move tokens - something that was new to this build and not visible at E3. The shop however is currently boarded up and under the influence of the Borgia, so it’s Ezio’s job to head to the local Borgia tower, kill the ranking officer and liberate the area.
Racing through the streets of Rome on horseback, Ezio kicks off the horse, grabs a pole and fluently transitions into the franchise standard free-running. Before heading over to the tower to reduce the Borgia influence, Ezio spots a potential assassin recruit - as indicated on the map - and heads over to help his potential brethren out. Two throwing knives and a crossbow to the throat later and Ezio had a new fan. Grateful that he was still alive and equally as seething at the extended influence that the Borgia have, the young assassin offers to support Ezio’s cause and join the brotherhood.
Crossing the street - on foot for once - Ezio makes his way up to one of Rome’s pigeon coops and while Assassin’s Creed 2 used these for assassin missions, Brotherhood uses them for something entirely different: brotherhood management.
Producer, Vincent Pontbriand, was on hand to run us through the ins and outs of how we train, upgrade and customise our assassins. With what looked like 12 potential slots for the brotherhood - with every two assassins equalling a BAM token - Ezio will have to send his troops out all over the world to gain experience, so that you can spend it on upgrading their weapons, armour, equipment or even simply change their clothing. It’s all a rather simple text based mini-game and will require that Ezio choose who to send where, and whether they return is based on a percentage of success.
Recruiting the new assassin may have rounded Ezio’s crew up to 6 - meaning he now had 3 BAM tokens - but when he sends them out on the road, then they’re no longer available for BAM - depending on where they go, assassins can be gone for about 4-5 minutes real time before they are available again. Unless they die that is...
After sending various assassins over the world and changing the look of those left behind, Ezio headed across the way, scrambling up a handful of Rome’s pillars, to a secret tunnel that ran under the tower that he has to liberate. Collecting a flag on the way - with the indicator signalling that he’s collected 1 of 101 flags - Ezio looks to creep in unnoticed.
Shimmying his way around the dank tunnel’s ledges, Ezio spots a guard walking past. Seizing on the opportunity he quickly pulls him to his death, watching his body crunch into the dirt floor below. Moments later a couple of guards underneath him turn up to investigate the commotion and upon investigating the dead body, Ezio leaps down from the ledge above to double assassinate them both, just as he’d done so many times before. Upon looting the bodies, we discover that Ezio can get more than just cash this time around as he lifts a couple of health potions and throwing knives from the lifeless corpses, essentially meaning it will be more worthwhile to stick around after the kill this time around.
It’s not long before Ezio is upon his final target - the leader of said Borgia tower - and after being spotted by him, one of AC2’s traditional chase sequences kicks off. Although this time, if you fail to catch him before he reaches his quarters, the tower will be closed down till later another day, meaning you will have to retry at a later date – meaning this time, it’s essential you don’t fail. Generally the sequence played out very similarly to that in AC2, but this time, you’ll have to contend with blocking guards as well by finding an alternative route. After doing so and sidestepping our shielded foes, Ezio is able to take down his target, which in turn affects the morale of the Borgia tower guards, causing some to run in fear.
In order to advance, Ezio had to finish off a handful of the most loyal Borgia guards, and using the new combo system we talked about at E3, the task seemed to be a breeze for the main man. All that was needed then is for our charming assassin to climb the tower to set off a fire and signal to the neighbourhood that the Borgia influence in this area is no more. Upon hearing that, it not only frees up the shops that Ezio was attempting to use earlier, allowing for him to use them, but it also reduces the military presence in the area.
A quick parachute - well, it’s more of a glider in all honesty - down from the high tower to ground level later, and the presentation was done and dusted.
With plenty of new kill moves, a parachute, and an all-new feel to the mission structure, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is shaping up to be a fine addition to the Assassin’s Creed universe. Valve recently proved with Left 4 Dead 2 that they could churn an equally impressive sequel out in a year and Ubisoft Montreal are looking to join those ranks. If they can provide the same level of variety that we saw in AC2, combined with the interesting and riveting story we almost expect now, then Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood looks like it could be one of, if not the, big gun this Christmas for those looking for something a little more than your traditional FPS. BAM!
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is scheduled for a November 16th and November 19th release in North America and Europe respectively.