Of course Ezio is never alone now, so once the crowd becomes a little large for his liking he whistles and his fellow assassins emerge, pouncing this way and that to dispense with the Borgia minions. There's a cool-down period attached to assassin usage, perhaps because the effect of fighting alongside these fast-moving, balletic death machines is almost as beguiling as Ezio's effortless charm.
Each Borgia tower involves a tricky final ascent, like the viewpoints in previous games. Once Ezio has killed everyone and made it to the top the final step is the tower's destruction, which sends a message to the local citizenry that the Borgia's grip on that area is broken. Ezio torches the building in a cut-scene and it's left burning as he makes his escape - not by diving into a bale of hay, for once, but by using another of Leonardo da Vinci's helpful inventions: the parachute.
The parachute, which looks precarious but does what you'd expect, is manoeuvrable enough that Ezio is even able to land directly on a horse. They can now be used in cities and we see some other good horsey actions too. At one point Ezio leaps from a rooftop to assassinate a Borgia soldier on horseback, taking his ride in the process, and elsewhere he finds an armoured horse. As he passes under some wooden beams he swings himself upwards to land on a nearby ledge.
With the Borgia tower gone the people will be friendlier to Ezio, and he can also take advantage of the reopened shops. It will also be possible to upgrade buildings you liberate. After Assassin's Creed II's wonderful cities, full to the brim with collectables, expect Rome to offer many such diversions - and we're also told to expect moneyboxes again, along with collectable flags.
Collectables will appear in eagle vision and have better marking on the map, so it should be easier to gather the remaining view, rather than having to go painstakingly to every location using a walkthrough. Feathers, eh?
On top of that you can expect variations on other popular themes. The assassin tombs from ACII won't be replicated exactly, but similar linear platform puzzle sequences will make it in, and Ubisoft hopes to ramp up the replay value in other ways.
You will have the option to replay missions you've completed, and you will also be able to read how Ezio did it - perhaps by pure stealth rather than confrontation. If you can match his feat then the Animus will give you 100 per cent synchronisation with that memory.
Customisation will also feature - whether it's choosing outfit colours for your assassin recruits, or buying specific weapons and upgrades from Leonardo to suit your play style. Coupled with the combat system refinements, hopefully this will encourage a bit more experimentation and variation in battle as well - throwing spears, for example. How many people who completed ACII ever learned how to kick sand in an enemy's face or trip them with a pike?
At the end of the demo, the camera pulls back and shows us the city of Rome sprawling before us. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood may not be Assassin's Creed III, but Ubisoft has undoubtedly built a huge playground again - and that's to say nothing of the multiplayer modes, either.
Whether fans of the series will accept it as a stopgap remains to be seen, but if this is what Ezio's like when he steps up to a corner office, we can't wait to see how Desmond fares when he eventually brings his skills to bear on the present day after all these years in the incubator.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is due out for PS3 and Xbox 360 on 19th November 2010, with a PC version to follow next spring.
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