So I promised to publish my first favorite mission somewhere during the first week of October, but unfortunately there was lots to do at work and also, I got totally hooked on Watch Dogs (That story! The hacking! That soundtrack!) and didn’t really play anything else these past days.
Still, here it is, finally, one of my favorite missions in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood: Freeing Caterina Sforza.
I chose this one as the first in the series because Assassin’s Creed The Ezio Collection is coming out in November and if I didn’t already own the games for PS3 I’d buy it. Actually, I’m still considering buying it, because, for whatever reasons, the quality especially of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is very poor on my console.
Okay. Let’s do this.
Why this game?
If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll know that I’m a great fan of almost all Assassin’s Creed-games up to Assassin’s Creed Unity, which is the last game I have played. I also have no intention of playing another one, no matter how good it is supposed to be. Sometimes, you have to open your world to new adventures, right?
But Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood will always remain a favorite and the reason for this is, of course, its main protagonist, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, but also the romance and humor of the story itself.
Ezio has always been a ladies’ man with a soft spot for redheads and one in particular, namely the confident and sometimes cruel Caterina Sforza. He’s been in love with her ever since meeting her in Forlí as a young man and now, well into his forties, he’s ready to turn the affair they’ve maintained over the years into something more serious. The question is: does Caterina feel the same?
Saving Caterina Sforza
Actually, this is not one mission, but the first four memories of Sequence 4. Caterina has been taken prisoner by the Borgia, Ezio’s archenemies, and been brought to Rome. She is being held captive in the Castello Sant’Angelo and Ezio fears that she will be tortured or even violated. So, against the stern warnings of Niccoló Macchiavelli, one of his allies, he sets out to free her. At least he promises to try and kill Pope Alexander and Cesare Borgia on the way.
During the first part of the mission, while infiltrating the Castello, Ezio must not be detected. Since Ezio’s range of stealth moves is limited to hiding either in haystacks, wells or amidst courtesans, and since especially the latter are in short supply in the Castello, this is not an easy feat.
An example: In the first courtyard there are three guards and one haystack. While it is possible, with good timing, mind you, to hide in the haystack and kill one of the guards without being spotted by the others, the remaining two guards stand in each other’s line of sight. So when killing one, there’s a good chance of the other seeing Ezio. The best strategy is to silently take out one of them with either throwing knives or your crossbow and stab the other when he moves over to investigate.
Actually, I’d recommend taking on this mission only after you’ve obtained the crossbow. The reason for that is that one guard patrolling in the main courtyard, who will spot Ezio while he is climbing the wall of the Castello to get to the first checkpoint there. So shoot him before you start climbing.
Romance and Humor
I love this mission because of the pretty taxing stealth requirements, but also because of the romance and the humor. You see, once Ezio has climbed and silently killed his way to Caterina’s cell, she does not exactly welcome him with open arms. Instead, she sternly asks what he is doing there. Ezio’s hilariously dry reply “Paying a visit to my tailor”, delivered by the awesome Roger Craig Smith in that characteristic Italian drawl, is one of my favorite Ezio one-liners. Of course, the mission also establishes the running gag of Ezio telling people behind bars to stay where they are (as if they had any other choice) while he leaves to search for the key to their prison.
In this mission Ezio has to find Lucrezia Borgia, who carries said key on her person, and convince her to give it to him. Which she doesn’t. Instead, she calls the guards. The challenge here is to fight off the guards, prevent Lucrezia from running and to not lose health. The best strategy is using the dagger plus throwing knives and trying to achieve as many kill streaks as possible. Unfortunately, if Lucrezia gets in the way Ezio will kill her too. Mission failed.
Once Ezio has defeated the guards and secured Lucrezia, he’ll take her to Caterina’s cell and fight some more guards on the way. Caterina, who has been cruelly beaten by Lucrezia before, cannot walk, so Ezio has to carry her out of the Castello without being spotted.
While doing just that and pausing from time to time to stealthily kill (by crossbow or hidden blade) the patrolling guards, he listens to Caterina telling him she only used him to secure his allegiance. Ezio tries to make light of it and tells her he knew all along, but it is clear he’s not as aloof as he wants her to believe. In fact, her confession hurts enough for him to exact some petty vengeance by dropping her from a height and into a haystack with a pretty mean little chuckle, right before he dives in after her. Understandably, Caterina is not amused.
The last section of this mission sees Ezio escorting Caterina out of the Castello on horseback. While she rides on, he jumps off his horse and confronts the pursuing guards. The challenge during this fight is not to be hit. And there are a lot of guards. Best to use sword and pistol and, again, to try and achieve as many kill streaks as possible.
After having defeated the guards, Ezio returns to his hideout. Caterina is already there, as is Niccoló Macchiavelli. He asks Ezio if he’s killed the Borgia, as ordered, and is pretty furious when Ezio reports failure, since the Pope was not at the Castello and Cesare left before he could even reach him.
I remember that, during my first playthrough, I secretly hoped that Ezio and Caterina would somehow be reconciled after that little adventure, but, sadly, the next scene sees Caterina leave to be with her children. She is never to return again and when Ezio says his goodbyes, you can literally hear his heart break.
It is a very sad ending for that fiery romance. I for one would have loved to see more of Caterina. She’s certainly no damsel in distress. And while I was happy that Ezio finally found love in another redhead later on, I think Caterina would have been the better match.
So there you have it. I’m a hopeless romantic…
The next mission in this series will be “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided-Claiming jurisdiction”.