Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Updated Impressions

Ubisoft Montreal made the trip halfway around the world to show off a new demo of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and we went behind closed doors to check it out.

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Assassin's Creed 2 was a commercial and critical smash last year, and Ubisoft is making the most of its biggest franchise with another release in 2010. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood will see stealthy renaissance man Ezio receiving help from a band of fellow assassins, whom he can direct to perform kills on his behalf. We got a look at a new portion of the single-player game at Gamescom 2010 to see how this squad management feature will work.

The demo opened up with a look at Rome, with Ezio perched on a ledge overlooking the city's famous Colosseum. From there, he jumped down onto a horse, dispatching its owner and taking control of the steed in one swift movement. We then watched as the development team demonstrated how to call in assassination support to take out some guards. With two enemies targeted, Ezio was able to bring in two blade-equipped killers to dispatch the guards, which used up one block or "token" from a two-token bar at the top of the screen. This bar means that support is a resource that needs to be carefully managed, but it replenishes automatically over time.

Riding into a new location, Ezio noticed a citizen who was being harangued by a set of government officials. He had the option to help the innocent person out, which he took, again calling in support to take out the threat. The victim was so overwhelmed by this act that he offered to join the brotherhood. He started out as a lowly level-one member of the guild, but you can build him up over time, just like the other members of your team.

Players of Assassin's Creed 2 should remember the pigeon coops, but in Brotherhood they'll serve a real purpose--you'll use the birds to communicate remotely and take on missions abroad. We were shown a map screen that displayed most of Europe, with assassination opportunities available in each major city. Ezio chose to send his recruit on a simple mission from Moscow, with the assassin's chance of success displayed at the top of the screen. The emphasis has been to bring asset management seamlessly into the game, rather than separately in the villa as it was in AC2.

While these side missions will be optional in the game, we got to see a main storyline assassination during our demo as well. Ezio was sent in to kill a commander in charge of a small group of soldiers. It was a relatively easy task to perform the kill, and with the leader dispatched, the remaining men dispersed quickly from the scene. The last step was to burn the commander's tower to the ground, letting the public know that area of Rome had been liberated.

Our demo also revealed lots of other cool new details about the game. Ezio is equipped with a parachute, which was given to him by Leonardo da Vinci in order to quietly descend from high places. For those who tread beyond the beaten path, there will also be 101 Borgia flags to collect in the game. Most interesting, though, was the revelation from producer Vincent Pontbriand that the campaign structure is "not exactly the same as it was in AC2" and that the team will be "showing a little bit more of the present" in reference to Desmond's story.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood will launch on November 16 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with a PC release to follow sometime thereafter. Pontbriand says to expect a "15-hour-plus experience," so to prepare yourself, be sure to read the rest of GameSpot's in-depth coverage of the game so far.

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