It’s hard to believe Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is just a few months away from release already, when its superb predecessor, Assassin’s Creed 2, only landed in shops last November. But it’s already coming along nicely, and today we got to check it out, and even test out a build of the game’s new multiplayer mode. Read on for our first impressions.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood was demoed at E3 in Los Angeles last month, but we got to check it out an Ubisoft press event today in London. To get you up to speed, we suggest you check out the stunning trailer below:
That stylish yet evil bearded chap is the general of the Papal armies, and as veterans of Assassin’s Creed 2 will know, the Pope during Ezio’s era is not a nice man. After being spared at the end of the previous game, he’s continued to crush Italy underfoot, while Ezio has begun to regret his decision – something that’s only compounded when his hometown of Monteriggioni is destroyed and his uncle and mentor, Mario, murdered.
It’s this siege that starts Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. While the in game graphics aren’t quite up to eye watering standards of the CGI trailer, they still impress, and the first mission gives you a much better idea of the scale Ubisoft is among for here. Ezio can now ride through towns on horseback, but once you reach the city ramparts, your draw will drop. Amassed outside are huge siege towers and hordes of soldiers on a scale never before seen in the series, and it’s up to you to knock them down with well aimed blasts from a cannon.
Along the way, you’ll be treated to more scripted events, like ladders collapsing as you climb, and seamlessly transitioning cut scenes, which make a change from the traditional cut scene-travel-kill-cut scene paradigm of the franchise, and genuinely serve to make Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood much more cinematic – something we’ve only really been able to say about Uncharted 2 previously. Combat controls have also been tinkered with in a bid to remove the repetitive counter-kill controls of Assassin’s Creed 2. We can’t say they’re better yet, but you do get to throw massive axes at soldiers now, which is always a fun option to have.
We were then shown a later mission in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, which demonstrated the game’s new feature, in Rome: teams. As the name of the game suggests, you can now use a whole Brotherhood of assassins in a mission, which makes a refreshing change to the gameplay. Once you’ve trained them up, they’ll join you on missions, and from the level we saw, they won’t cramp your style like some NPCs do.
You can whistle for aerial arrow support, and act as a diversion while they gather above. Seeing them creep along the rafters while you stroll right in through the front door is great fun, though not for the unfortunate victim as they drop down and kill on your command.
Read our Assassin’s Creed 2 first play now
We weren’t able to test out the single player ourselves, but we did get to try out the new multiplayer mode in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood on PS3 (It will work over Xbox Live too on the 360 though), and we came away impressed. We wouldn’t blame you if you said the stealth element wouldn’t translate to a deathmatch arena against other people, but we were pleasantly surprised.
We tried the tense Wanted mode, which sees you left in a small, crowded section of the city, with up to seven other players. The controls remain the same, and you’re assigned one of them to kill, and a radar bleeps hot, hotter, hottest as you approach them. Of course, someone else is on your tail at the same time, and it doesn’t pay to kill civilians (You lose your target), so you have to look for the signs of a human player, before they see you. If you spot someone pulling out a blade, it’s all over – they’ve already pressed Square for a clean kill and your throat will be viscerally slashed.
Obviously anyone running is a competitor, as is anyone scaling the walls. The latter is hard to pull off successfully, but worth it, as you’ll get more points for a stylish drop down kill from a rooftop. But when everyone is walking around in crowds on the street, it’s genuinely tense and almost frightening. We actually yelped when we walked around a corner and bumped straight into our target – luckily we were first on the draw. It’s this sort of eery stealth gameplay that makes the multiplayer in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood stand out, rather than feel tacked on like it did in Bioshock 2.
We took the time today to ask Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood associate producer, Jean-Francois Boivin, why Ubisoft chose to stick with Renaissance Italy for the third console outing, rather than try another new setting, like say, feudal Japan.
“Japan has been overdone,” he told us. “We wanted Ezio to finish what he started…we’re also going to be closing some doors that we opened at the start of the franchise.” Playing Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood today, we see what he means.
Out November | £TBC | Ubisoft