Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Hands-On - The First Hours

Ubisoft shows off new assassination mechanics and new acrobatic sequences featuring Desmond.

While we've played plenty of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's multiplayer mode that puts you in the role of templar, honing assassin-like skills, we haven't been able to play much of the single-player portion of the game up until now. Of course, some of the things we played have been shown before--we got our shot at the siege of Monteriggioni shown at the Electronic Entertainment Expo--but we did get a good look at some brand-new levels, such as action sequences that feature Ezio's present-day relative, Desmond Miles. But the start of our play-through begins in a familiar setting, with Ezio in a secret compartment below Rome's Sistine Chapel.

If you've completed Assassin's Creed II, then you already know what happens here and what Ezio saw upon defeating Rodrigo Borgia. Brotherhood picks up shortly after that as Ezio's uncle Mario calls for him, asking if the Piece of Eden is safe. With confirmation that it's in good hands, Ezio makes his way out of the compartment with the aid of some eagle vision, and the two make their way out of the chapel to flee the Vatican. This entire sequence functions like a tutorial, or a refresher, for Ezio's acrobatic moves and combat skills. As in previous Assassin's Creed games, it's incredibly easy to climb the variety of edifices in your view, and fighting guards and other foes generally functions the same way with some minor changes that are revealed later in our play session. Once Ezio and Mario have made their way through the throngs of priests and Vatican guards, they navigate to a nearby tower where they have a brief conversation before performing the assassin's trademark swan dive into the river below.

Moments later, the two arrive at Monteriggioni--the family home of Ezio and Mario. The two ride their horses through the streets of the town (we took the opportunity to deliberately run into people on our steed, of course) and reach the base of the steps where Ezio meets with some familiar faces from Assassin's Creed II, including Caterina Sforza, who makes googly eyes at the younger of the two Auditores. But, before joining his family and guests in the Auditore residence, Ezio makes his way around town, introducing himself to the engineers of Monteriggioni's new cannon defenses as well as a woman who needs help with an easy task. All of this seemingly serves the purpose of helping you become acquainted (or reacquainted) with the general layout of the town as well as Ezio's romancing skills.

Unfortunately, Ezio's homecoming celebration and subsequent tender and private moment with a certain lady abruptly end when a cannon ball comes crashing through the roof of his room. The siege of Monteriggioni by Borgia forces thus begins. As Ezio, you must travel swiftly to the town defenses--a series of cannons aimed directly at the massive army approaching the doors. You're tasked with firing the cannons at targets until Borgia forces overwhelm them with their siege towers and storm the ramparts. It's here that Ezio gets to use a few more of his combat skills, particularly the disarm maneuver that lets him grab his opponent's weapon. But perhaps even more useful is Ezio's kick. When stronger and heavily armored soldiers appear onscreen, there's no sense in trying to attack them with standard combinations, because they can easily defend against them. Instead, you have to create an opening by giving these tough foes a good old-fashioned kick, which momentarily stuns them and gives Ezio enough time to attack. Also, you might be happy to know that when Ezio disarms enemies equipped with spears, he can throw them at his opponents to produce a particularly gruesome death.

Ezio has some new toys at his disposal.

Still, even with Ezio's skills, the town is overrun, and Ezio--as well as his family--retreats through a secret passage found in the assassin's tomb located underneath the Auditore residence. The sequence ends, and we're then brought into the present day with Desmond and his crew, who are now charged with recovering the Piece of Eden lost in the siege of Monteriggioni. The group (which is also still on the run from Abstergo) finds itself at the present-day version of the Auditore fortress, which doesn't look all that different from its past incarnation, aside from modern conveniences like electricity. Actually, one of your first tasks as Desmond is to restore electricity to the Auditore residence (so they can power the animus) by using eagle vision to find wiring that eventually leads to power boxes scattered throughout town. He finds these boxes by performing the same dexterous moves as Ezio, since it's explained that Desmond essentially unlocks all of the abilities of his ancestors as he relives more of their memories.

In fact, Desmond finds the same secret passage used by his ancestors to escape the Borgia onslaught thanks to a vision of Ezio. From a story standpoint, as Desmond and Lucy make their way through the passage, it gives glimpses of how the Auditores managed to escape and how they sprung traps on their pursuers. From a gameplay standpoint, this passage functions much like the assassin's tombs from Assassin's Creed II, where the emphasis is placed solely on platforming with some mild puzzle elements. Needless to say, it seems the present day is going to figure much more prominently into Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood than it has in any previous game.

With the exploration of the passageway complete and power restored, Desmond returns to the animus and to the memories of his ancestor Ezio. From here, we spring a little further into one of the game's later sequences. Ezio is in Rome, and he has his sights set directly on the Borgia clan. However, like in Assassin's Creed II, you can undertake any number of missions available to you--whether they're main story missions or just side jobs that aren't directly tied to the core game. At first, we decided to experiment with a few of Ezio's goodies, namely his projectile weapons. Of course, he carries the same concealed gun that he had in Assassin's Creed II, but he also has access to a crossbow--an incredibly effective weapon for taking out those pesky rooftop guards or other foes that just won't get out of your way.

Calling for backup.

Perhaps our most favorite of all the weapons is the addition of other assassins that can come to your aid with the press of a single button. Ezio will raise his arm and clench his fist to order the attack on nearby targets. Assassins seemingly fall from the sky to take out enemies in the area before disappearing to the rooftops to attack again, but there is a cooldown period, so don't expect that you can continually use this feature. You can also get different types of attacks depending on the number of assassins you've recruited, so if you gather several of them, your assassins can launch a barrage of arrows from the shadows before jumping down to take care of business. We made extensive use of this feature while attempting to raid one of the Borgia towers in Rome. These towers are massive fortifications that you can storm in order to take away Borgia influence from the area, but doing so can be difficult. The one we tried to take required killing a specific general who would flee the area at the first sign of trouble, so finding a good spot to launch the attack from makes all the difference.

We spent some more time exploring the streets of Rome, exploring more missions available to us (including one where we had to escort a VIP through the streets to a safe house). As with all Assassin's Creed games, we're eager to spend more time exploring and watching the complex story unfold even further. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is scheduled for release on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November 16 and early next year on the PC.

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Discussion

194 comments
mw2hardcore
mw2hardcore

@bumblebeev3 I think AC2 and AC1 where exactly the same thing. i would not bother buying this one.

XXOBELISK
XXOBELISK

Awesome game!But in the begging before even showning us videos or screenshots or tell us anything about the story they Anounced that we will see Desmond Miles becoming the ultimate assasin!What happend with that idea?

floody101
floody101

cool this games longer the AC2

9Dguy
9Dguy

I think AC3 (the game most likely after this) will be the last one... it'll have to be because the game has things set up for the world to end in 2012 unless they find the artifacts/stop the templars. By the time it come out it'll already be at least fall of 2011 and who wants a "end of the world" scare after 2012 has already passed.

KillerBill316
KillerBill316

Haven't been so pumped up for a game since Mass Effect 2 or God of War 3.

Jynxis
Jynxis

@snake3rules It too will have a cliffhanger. Your not much of a fan of story driven games, huh? They focus on the past, because they don't know the location of all of the artifacts. They know the general locations, but need to use the animus to locate the artifacts. Hell, by going to the past, it teaches Desmond how to be an assassin. Which will lead us to a GREAT FINALE!

Jynxis
Jynxis

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

eriktkire
eriktkire

@Fable_Lord probably best to assume the friendly AI will be moronic, that way if it's good you'll be pleasantly surprised :P

Fable_Lord
Fable_Lord

really hope that those assassin you will help you, will really be helpfull and not some stupid AI thing ..

snake3rules
snake3rules

lets just hope they tell an actual full story this time, instead of part of one, like the last two games. Im all for the twist or cliffhanger, but these games are far too obsessed with the past and not nearly enough in the future, with desmond ... seems like this game will improve that ... then again, seemed like part two was going to have a conclusive story, too.

Rabz3174
Rabz3174

anyone who knocks this game has no idea, this is by far the best game title to come out on ps3, the story is compelling and sucks you in characters are awsum and the history is somewhat real, people say the first was repetetive and the second was the same, i just dont think they gave it a chance. there will never be a game like this cant wait for AC3 and hopfully AC4 long live the creed!

Hydro1257
Hydro1257

Game looks amazing. Deserves the 19 million pre-orders. ______________________________________

holdentorana74
holdentorana74

@isshiah The only thing that I liked was when the player had to kill all the Captains. But yes, I will have to agree. For the price, it wasnt REALLY worth it. But still... CANT WAIT! Im also dying for CoD, so my week is going twice as slow as yours, and then I still have another week later to wait for AC! Damn you Ubisoft! lol

isshiah
isshiah

@holdentorana74 sequence 12 and 13 weren't as good as the rest of the game (according to critic scores). there were some audio glitches as well.

isshiah
isshiah

i preordered the codex edition a while ago and the next two weeks are gonna be so slow. lol

sangdolee
sangdolee

I cant really wait for this game i want to buy it 100% its gonna be good game ^^

maddog123
maddog123

This game is required playing. I'm so involved in the story now I must play them all. I own AC1 and 2 and though the first one was repetitive I still liked it. AC2 came out I was blown away by how much more awesome it was in every way compared to AC1. This latest installment looks to up the ante even more. How much higher can you go, and will the story come to a satisfactory ending? I would like to see a series actually have a resolution to the problems the characters are facing. most franchises just keep pumpin' the games out without fleshing the story, or the story might be good, but they just keep prolonging the story to make more money off the games. I really really really hope that the AC games are different, and that we see a crazy awesome, yet definitive ending to the story, whenever that happens. And yes, I know it won't happen in brotherhood.

Chainer323
Chainer323

Thankfully the DLC's for ACII didn't interfere with me getting the platinum trophy. I can't wait to see what is required to get trophies in this one

holdentorana74
holdentorana74

@Buzduganjr Actually, in Assassins Creed 2, they did make you have to pay to completely finish the game. It was the DLC for Section 11 and 12 I'm pretty sure, but I think that is only cause they couldnt fit it all on the one disc. I might be wrong. Maybe they just wanted more money, but I HIGHLY doubt that they even needed to THINK they needed more money. lol. I already have my XMas list sorted, and its AC3 all the way. Black Ops doesnt exactly stand out for me. The only thing that is different this time is more variety in K/S's and customizable characters, but I am not going to preorder a game that has no way of saying "Hey! Im different then all the other FPS", but thats just my opinion. Anyway, ASSASSINS CREED: BROTHERHOOD... 18 Days baby!

VVhiteVVolf
VVhiteVVolf

@paulc420 - AC2 improved EVERYTHING about what made the first game repetitive and limited feeling. In AC2 there are more missions and more towns to explore and they have a lot more variety this time and keep the game from getting repetitive like in AC1. The storyline in part 2 is also much more interesting and better presented than the first game. There is much more emotion and more variety this time in the story. The people you interact with during the plot points of the game are actually interesting. Whether it is sneaking into a girls bedroom, tracking down a killer, making a delivery or bringing Leonardo clues all of the plot points made the game better than the boring interaction and presentation seen in part one. Also in AC2 you could actually upgrade your character at shops with better weapons, armor and specialty items like health vials, smoke bombs and poison. Then they even added your own town to upgrade with its own shops and hidden items to find. Also the enemies are more varied and the combat is deeper this time. In addition to all of those improvements to the game, the graphics were greatly improved over AC1. There is simply no comparison between the two. AC2 is a far superior game in every way to AC1. Unless you like your games to offer little depth, no real sense of upgrading your character, no items or upgrades to strive for and repeat the same gameplay and missions through out the entire game. Then I guess AC 1 would be better for you.

Azorean269
Azorean269

As long as its not as short as SWFU II cause that was a slap in the face to anyone who bought it

sambucca666
sambucca666

@paulc420.... you don't have a clue do you?

paulc420
paulc420

this game looks just as boring as the 2nd one. The first one was so much fun. The game went to hell after that

Buzduganjr
Buzduganjr

Hey this game is awesome !! (i hope they don't say this is a full game and then we realize we have to pay DLC for more content like other games do "EA" )

VilandasUK
VilandasUK

Leonardo Da Vinci is going back in action :D

eddieham13
eddieham13

@kevorksalloum To change the engines completly would affect the entire game, therefore they would need to make the game from scratch and it would have different gameplay altogether from what we expect and want from this game. Also RAGE is the Rockstar advanced game engine so there not gonna let ubisoft use it.

rpgnutt
rpgnutt

i dont pre order cause u can get it the nx day but i want this 1200 on the dot i think this is gona be the best game of 2010 besides RDR mutiplayer with AC gameplay is a breath of fresh air from fps i cant wait to assassinate someone in realtime.

ballplayers-2-3
ballplayers-2-3

Best game ever..? yes... i play the best selling games out there and this looks like it will be amaziiing wow....... COD looks the same every year and GTA 5 has not been announced yet.........This is truly a remarkable game which now includes multiplayer!!!!!! You actually get into the story and you feel like your killing 5 to save a million....

kevorksalloum
kevorksalloum

@eddieham13 - Then why not use the rage and euphoria engines for the horses ?

Talk2Luke
Talk2Luke

This looks totally awesome. :-)

tidz
tidz

This look amazing

eddieham13
eddieham13

@kevorksalloum The horses in RDR are being powered by the RAGE and Euphoria engines so even if they copy the horses they still wont be as well animated.

kevorksalloum
kevorksalloum

Why not make the horses look like the ones in RDR :P

kevorksalloum
kevorksalloum

Oh man this is going to be AWSOME !!!!!!! :D

kevorksalloum
kevorksalloum

I miss seeing altair :P But Ezio has two blades :lol:

SkochTape117
SkochTape117

@manslayer2010 so you know how hard Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is going to be? i Honestly doubt that, as the game hasn't even released... and besides, it really doesn't need to be that hard, think, your a freaking Assassin! Fighting isn't really hard when your an expert killer.

FlashCharge
FlashCharge

Have preordered Assassins III and just want to continue the story and be amazed by the visuals and unique game play. A welcome addition to my library.

slynn94
slynn94

Machivelli dies which sucks but the combat is cool. it is implied that he dies when it says Ezio you are the leader of the assassins now

ajleo
ajleo

Hell yeah, let me get ma hands on that bow!

KingsterX
KingsterX

@holdentorana74-i totally agree, cod is getting kinda boring, and this looks friggin amazing! ive bin saving up gor this! :D

holdentorana74
holdentorana74

Wow! I cant wait to play this. I am DEFINATELY buying this over Slack Ops. CoD is getting sort of boring. Been waiting for the next AC. I loved the graphics and gameplay, but cant wait for more of that plus multiplayer! If this is AC: Brotherhood, what else can they add if they decide to make AC4? Ideas?

manslayer2010
manslayer2010

Personally the only aspects I liked about the 1st game were the visuals (absolutely gorgeous for the most part) the story and the tight controls which are incredibly important but the fact of the matter is this game was waaay to easy and from one of the earlier interviews I read they are not planning on making it any harder. Now don't get me wrong they have added several new elements to the gameplay but I feel as if those elements are useless because they are not necessary in order to beat the incredibly simple enemies. The gruesome endings are cool until you get 5-6 hours into the game and have seen all of them several times. I certainly hope the game will prove me wrong (and I'm sure the multiplayer will be more challenging) but I'm going to have to wait until some reviews come out to even consider this. Here is hoping Ubisoft adds a hard mode to this game that makes fighting a challenge

mber7560
mber7560

For a while, I was epically confused about the beginning. "This will pick up right after AC II." Didn't Ezio kill Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia)? Actually, no he didn't. Messer Auditore must be sitting there watching his town go up in flames saying "Retrospectively, letting the Spaniard live looks like a really stupid move."

tarikm92f
tarikm92f

my most anticipated game of 2010 besides GoW3

5-0
5-0

@boomer0901 I agree with what you said about AC1. It's repetitiveness turned me off too. But I was willing to give the series a chance. I tried the sequel, absolutely love it. Ubisoft improved everything that plagued the first. Please, at least try it before knocking its cousin. The story is rich, with great characters and a background grounded in history, and the missions are certainly not repetitive. Ubisoft generally make great games, see Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six, e.t.c.