Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Hands On Preview
Brotherhood is much more than just a multiplayer mode for Assassin's Creed.
There's no denying that I love the Assassin's Creed series. Assassin's Creed 2 was my personal Xbox 360 Game of the Year, thanks to its focused missions, faster paced combat and overall better composition from its predecessor. As I've come to learn at E3, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is a full-fledged sequel to Assassin's Creed 2 that also happens to include a mulitplayer mode.
At the show I was given eyes-on time with the single player adventure and hands-on time with one of the multiplayer modes. Since I consider the single player mode more interesting, I'll start there.
According to the Ubisoft representative on the show floor, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is a true sequel to Assassin's Creed 2 that features 15-20 hours of gameplay and picks up directly after Assassin's Creed 2 ends. Players take control of Ezio once again, but this time, his role is much greater than it ever was before.
We were shown the introductory scene from the game, wherein Uncle Mario's villa is under attack by the Templars who are trying to regain control of the Apple, which the Assassin's were able to acquire at the end of Assassin's Creed 2. Throughout the scene, the Ubisoft rep showed off a few new concepts for the game that should make it even more enjoyable and streamlined than its predecessor.
Players will now be able to string combos, even if they are interrupted by an attacking enemy. If players can execute the move correctly, they can flow into a killing sequence on an intruding enemy with the push of a button, and flow right back to their combo on the original enemy. Shortly after the sequence in which the enemies were killed, Ezio was able to quickly flee the scene with a new apparatus that will be placed more consistently around the world. The machine was no more than a pulley with a sand bag, but it allowed Ezio to hop up about 3-4 stories with relative ease, and even use the sand bag to kill an unlucky enemy in its proximity.
Fleeing seemed to trigger the next event in the sequence, which involved massive parts of the Villa wall completely breaking away, forcing Ezio down to the ground and onto a horse. The scene we were shown was very cinematic in its presentation, and according to the team they have made a large effort to make every scene feel cinematic and epic through the use of timed and triggered events.
While on the horse, in town mind you, Ezio was able to evade enemies and escape disaster. From here the rep explained that players will now take much greater use of their horse and will have the ability to ride through town, a function that has not been available up until now.
Shortly after this sequence, Uncle Mario was killed by the leader of the Templars whose name escapes me right now. This changes Ezio's world and forces him to become the leader of the Assassin's, forming the titular Brotherhood.
Following this revelation, the game fast-forwards to the Colosseum in Rome and the next sequence of the game begins. Here, the rep showed off some of the new concepts and moves that come with having a team to support Ezio.
Players can now summon assassin's at will and perform a variety of attacks that eliminate Ezio's constant need to fight. His crew can be trained and augmented throughout the quest to behave and attack to the will of the player. Additionally, poor use of the crew will cause the death of trained assassins, a steep penalty in the game.
The new team of assassins were quite interesting to see in action. Given the right setting, you can see them preparing themselves for attack in the higher parts of buildings. With a command from the weapon select quick menu would cause them to descend, instantly killing any enemy in their way.
Aside from the team of assassins, it seemed as if the game was going to have a more pronounced focus on guns. The short demo I was given showcased at least 3 different types of guns. According to the Ubisoft rep, there will undoubtedly be more guns, and more of the archers will have their bows replaced with shotguns for a bit of variety. It seemed that there was a bit more depth to the whole situation that he wasn't quite able to discuss.
I also asked the rep about the locales to be featured in Brotherhood, and he only said that they had Rome to show off at this time. But he did disclose that Rome was 2-3 times the size of Florence in Brotherhood. Those familiar with Florence should understand the magnitude of Rome - basically, it's massive.
Overall, the single player mode of Brotherhood looked quite intriguing. I wasn't sure there was all that much improvement left, but it seems the team managed to find a number of things that were par in Assassin's Creed 2 and make them excellent.
The multiplayer mode on the other hand was a bit of a disappointment. I was able to play with a group of five others in a mode where I was given an assassination target. That target was another one of the players in the game, and subsequently I was one of their targets. The catch: I was only able to assassinate my target, and I can't defend myself from my attacker, only flee.
As a result, in my opinion, the mode turned out to be little fun, and no more than a race to kill your own target first. Killing your target was also barely a struggle. Most often, by the time you alert your enemy to your presence, there is no more than 2 seconds until you kill them.
The same goes for when someone attacks you. You aren't often given much time to react, causing you to consistently die at the hand of your enemy. According to the developers demoing the game, I should've been reacting quicker and taking evasive action like throwing a smoke bomb or hopping into some hay, or just trapping my assailant in one of the traps scattered throughout the city.
From what it seemed, the more stealthy a kill was, the more points it would earn the player. Because most people would just openly kill their enemies, the result was that everyone was scoring about the same for each kill.
Overall, it just seemed like a game of luck. Spawn closer to your enemy, and basically you have a chance of winning. Hopefully the multiplayer mode is a bit more expansive than the demo and includes some more enjoyable set-ups.
I didn't feel as if this mode truly captured the essence of Assassin's Creed. It felt more like a tacked on concept, especially after seeing how well-thought the entire single player mode was.
I'll reserve full judgment till the game releases this fall on November 16 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.