Games caught in the limbo between sequels usually have a certain stigma attached to them. Too accomplished to be called an expansion, but not quite accomplished enough to be considered a sequel, these types of games often get described in terms of decimal points. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, or Assassin's Creed 2.5 as some people are callously calling it, could be an exception to that rule. As well as concluding Ezio's story in 15th century Italy, Brotherhood introduces multiplayer for the first time in the series.
At E3 we got our first glimpse of the opening level, of Ezio bounding across the rooftops of a Roman villa as the Templar army wreak havoc in the streets below. It was a very narrative driven demonstration, and while setting the scene perfectly, it didn't give much of a sense of the all important Brotherhood features at the core of the experience. In contrast to this, the section of the game being shown off at gamescom was all about the gameplay and gave a much better picture of how players would be able to interact with their murderous entourage.
The start of the demo sees Ezio loitering around on a wooden beam, possibly 30ft above street level. Throwing himself off said ledge, Ezio plummets downward, landing on the back of an occupied horse and dispatching of its Templar passenger in one elegant movement. The horseback sections appear much more fluid than in previous games, and Ezio will leap to and from horses as naturally as he'd jump anywhere else.
As Ezio canters about the cobbled streets of Rome, Vincent Pontbriand, producer on the game explained the structure of Brotherhood to us. Each of the twelve districts in the game is governed by a tower, each tower guarded by a more senior Templar – a leader, if you will. The objective of the demonstration in question was to find the district's tower, kill its leader and reduce the structure to a smouldering pile of rubble.
On the way to the tower, several Templar appear to hinder this plan. Ezio need not concern himself with such trivial distractions, however, as the master assassin has lackeys to do his dirty work. With a single tap of a button, two assassins materialise from the shadows, throwing themselves at Ezio's enemies like bees on honey. The Brotherhood features are easily the most interesting addition to the campaign, allowing Ezio to delegate combat related chores to his ever-willing posse.