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Assassin's Creed Brotherhood Deluxe Edition
April 18, 2011 | Jon Carr

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Ezio Fighting
Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is on its way to the Mac on April 28th. I sat down with the game to do a preview, but sadly I was not able to obtain a Mac build. As such I can't gauge Mac performance, but I was able to spend an hour with the game and a bit of time with the new Multiplayer mode.

Unless you have played the excellent Assassin's Creed 2, the start of AC: Brotherhood's will confuse you. This is more Assassin's Creed 2.5, and unlike its predecessors it does not do a thorough job of introducing you to the story and characters, but rather plunges you right into the events following the end of AC2. You play as Ezio again, now a more seasoned adult than brash youth. After escaping from a church and a mob of angry priests with your uncle Mario, you set off by horseback to your Villa. Riding into town you are greeted with excited cries of "Ezio!" by the townsfolk. One pleasant new addition: you can ride your horse anywhere inside towns or cities now. In previous games you were always barred from riding a horse inside. It's a nice touch, and can be a faster way to get around the game's sprawling cityscapes.

After greeting his mother and sister, Ezio is told of visitors and a party later in the night. You can either go straight to the villa or meander around the town for a few odd side quests. I helped a lady carry a box of flowers for a promised 'reward' later, caught a runaway horse for a stableman, and assisted in the repair of cannons by finding a lazy engineer sleeping in a corner of the ramparts. Yes, the game introduces gunpowder on a much larger scale with cannons. Once fixed, you can practice on some dummy targets out in the fields. The canon control was a little sluggish, but satisfying to fire and watch the shot explode upon the hillsides and dummies.

I clambered around the town, the game's awesome animations on full display, Ezio as graceful as ever. After scaling atop the villa, I admired the sunset from high above. The game really is beautiful, even more than AC2 was it seems, and that was hard to beat. The palette is richer here, with more subtle hues and tones. The music is also outstanding, with Jesper Kyd once again composing the score. It's memorable and many a track good enough to listen in iTunes. Coincidentally the Mac version does come with all 22 original soundtracks so you are free to listen.

My adventuring done I proceeded indoors to the family reunion and to greet the visitors. Later Ezio has a nice bath and a relaxing night with some company. He gets a rude awakening though - a cannonball straight through his bedroom wall. Throwing on his clothes and leaping through the breach you can see the town is under siege by the Borgia. Canons boom, walls crumble, and panic is widespread. Smoke fills the orange sky and the ramparts are full of scuttling defenders.

After quickly speaking with Uncle Mario, Ezio deftly leaps onto a horse and makes his way to the outer walls as the town crumbles and explodes around him. It's all very thrilling until a falling wall makes short work of your horse and you leap away. Scaling up the walls quickly, you man the canons and try to buy the townsfolk time to escape by blowing up the enemy canons. The bombardment proves too much, and soon your own canons are blown to bits. A frantic soldier points out the siege towers, now upon the ramparts. Ezio speedily makes his way over and leaps into the fray - in only his shirt and pants, wielding his hidden blade against armed and armored guards. Combat remains much the same as before, but with the addition of brutal new executions and chained attacks. After skewering the last soldier in a squad, a giant armored knight advanced upon me while brandishing his battle-axe. I set him straight with a quick gunshot to the head, and it was almost comical to watch him crumble, armor and all.


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