Assassins Creed: Brotherhood – Preview

Allow me to rid you of your fears, as it stands Assassins Creed: Brotherhood is not looking like an expansion pack posing as a fully fledged retail title, it’s a full blown game all by itself and now with the added fun of Multiplayer! yay!

But let us begin  with the Singleplayer since it has been the focus of the series so far….

Brotherhood picks up after Assassins Creed 2 ends and continues the story of both Desmond and Ezio as the game will be played both in and out of the Animus, what adventures await Desmond now that he has come into his new-found abilities?
Ezio is continuing his war on the Templars and has taken the fight to Rome of which you’ll visit every inch in this new adventure, including the world-famous Colosseum which contains one of the Assassin’s Tombs.

But this time Ezio won’t be alone as he attempts to bring down the Templars and the Borgia family, at the start of the game you’ll form an Assassins Guild and then you need to fill it with killers.
As you may expect this takes the form of missions that you partake in, usually giving aid or doing favours for these shady people who in turn  join you in the fight, it’s far from original but sets up the game for its main focus which is the fact that you’re not alone anymore, you’ve got friends.

Once they’ve been recruited you can send them off to Europe on contracts to earn some extra cash for the Guild and to hone their skills.
You’ll also be able to customise them to a degree and choose what weapons they bare.
Once they’ve been thoroughly trained they’ll join you on the streets to act as back-up and squad mates of a sort.
Lets say you need to stay hidden and there is a guard that needs killing, a tap of the right bumper will see your ally slide of the shadows and slit the guards throat from ear to ear.
They can also drop smoke bombs to cause distractions or use the poisoned blade to create a scene, every gadget that Ezio can use so can his buddies.
It’s a system that has potential to be fantastic if Ubisoft can pull it off, but it does raise a question of a missing feature that would perfectly fit in.
With the inclusion of Multiplayer now, it seems that the new singleplayer set-up lends itself perfectly to Co-op play, after all you’ll be using AI buddies to help you take out guards etc so why not have the ability to replace them AI companions with friends?
Sadly there has been no mention of  such a feature yet and it’s a shame, it could have provided Brotherhood with some stunning moments as you work together to take out the target.

But alas! it’s not to be so let us continue…..

Being able to spend money on your small town and Manor house in Assassins Creed 2 was a great addition and one that Ubisoft have decided to expand on this concept by allowing players to buy parts of Rome now, you’ll be able to purchase banks, shops, guilds and other such buildings and as you put money into the different area’s you’ll visibly see them change as per Assassins Creed 2’s Villa and town.
At the time of Brotherhoods setting Rome is a rather backwards place compared to Venice and Florence and Ubisoft are quietly hinting that it’s Ezio and his companions (of which Leonardo returns along with others) that brought the Renaissance to Rome and it seems that this ability to buy parts of Rome is how they did it.
It’s certainly playing around with the history books, but who cares, it’s a game right?

Ubisoft have also taken heed of the fact that AC2 was easy to get through without much trouble, so now the combat system has been tweaked and rewards offensive players as opposed to the defensive “Tick tock” style players by giving them more visceral kill animations for their trouble.
Guards now interrupt combo’s and even assassination animations making them far more formidable than seen so far in the Assassins series.

Of course a host of other minor tweaks and additions come into play, such as now bieng able to use horses inside the city which could lead to some spectacular chases and of course extra weapons have been added to spice things up.

And this time round your targets are not such a push over, while Assassins Creed 2’s targets were all overweight aristocrats who couldn’t pick up a sword without slicing off their own pinky Brotherhood has Cesare.
This young Warmonger is the son of Roderigo Borgia (who is returning in Brotherhood) and knows how to handle a sword, in fact he’s just as much of a killer as Ezio himself and is more than happy to chase our Hero through the streets of Rome on a rampage.

But even then he’s not your biggest worry, no it’s that douche 3 countries over with a name that involves far too many X’s and a Motto that reads ” I ar Sn1per god”.
Welcome to Multiplayer.

I’ll make no apologies for myself, I was among the people who groaned when they heard that Mutliplayer was to be slotted into my beloved series it turns out that such as assumption is shaping up to be utterly wrong. balls. I hate being wrong.

Brotherhoods Multiplayer has in fact been in developement for several years now and features its own separate storyline and has been handled by a separate team from the singleplayer to make sure it’s up to scratch.

You’ll be assuming the role of a Templar trainee in the massive Abstargo building from AC2 (remember all those Animus’s?) and you’re there to learn how to fight like an Assassin you can join the fight against Ezio/Desmond. you goin’ down fool.
As you battle through the online modes you’ll get to level up your character, acquire “perks” to use and new weapons to make your opponent’s life a misery, so far so generic.

But wait! it gets good here.

While we don’t know how many modes there are to the Multiplayer we do know of one….and it’s a killer.
This game mode titled Wanted is for 6-8 players and it takes place in small sections of the city designed for multiplayer.
Once the game starts you’re randomly assigned one of the eight multiplayer character skins available (each one has unique kill animations as well) and then you’ll be given a Contract to take out one of the rival players.
But while you’re hunting down your target, someone else will have a contract on you turning it into a dangerous game as you attempt to take down your target without getting killed yourself.
You’ll know roughly were your target is thanks to an onscreen radar that gives direction and distance, but here’s the catch:
The map is filled with AI and each AI is using one of the 8 multiplayer skins, it leads to tense situations.
Once you get close a message pops up telling you that your target is within sight, and then it becomes a case of looking for signs about who it is.
While your radar may be telling you that the Doctor who is your target is around this area, which one is he? is that him in that crowd of 3 other Doctors? or is that him sitting on the bench and is that Pries walking through the crown toward you your killer? or is it that person running on the rooftops or are they after another contract?

Points are awarded for both kills and escapes, if you suddenly start sprinting through a crowd your target will most likely notice this odd behaviour giving them a chance to escape from you which uses the “Line of Sight” from singleplayer to escape your pursuer which scores you points.
It’s a smart idea as it’s possible to win a match even though you have far fewer kills than anyone else.
Another catch comes in the form of being too damn good, yes you heard me.
Players who rack up the points will find themselves with more contracts in their head making it much harder to get the kills in, though plenty of opportunity for escape points.
Escapes can be helped by chase breakers, such as closing a set of gates on your enemy, along with the extra “perks” such as being able to drop a smoke bomb or morph to blend in with the crowd.

It can all still go one way or the other however, the single mode that Ubisoft have announced is unique and interesting but it remains to be seen whether it just becomes a case of everyone running around and never using the stealth aspects and it’s a constant worry that the other modes may boil down to basic Deathmatches, but there is no doubt that effort has at least been put into it all.

At first it was a worrying idea, multiplayer in a singleplayer series is an odd prospect and yet I can’t help but feel excited by the work and effort Ubisoft appear to have put into this mode, it’s a unique and stylish game mode that should lead to many tense battles, whether you choose to use the rooftops or blend in with the crowds it should have something for everyone.

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