Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood Review

Posted on November 30, 2010 by

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Okay, first things first- this is not Assassin’s Creed 3. This is a continuation of the second game, Assassin’s Creed 2.5, as it were. I hesitate to call it an expansion pack because it is a full game in it’s own right, by which I mean it’ll take you than four hours to beat (I’m looking at you, Modern Warfare 2). In fact, it takes rather a lot more. Even if you just blast through the storyline and ignore the vast m of the side quests, you’re still looking at around 10-15 hours of gameplay, with the side quests added on, talking about a game with over 30 hours of gameplay time.

So things pick up immediately after Assassin’s Creed 2 Desmond, Lucy and the gang are escaping their hideout in a van after a Templar attack. Desmond hops back into the Animus (apparently it only needs a car battery to run, which raises the question of why they weren’t constantly on the move in the first place) to get some more time as Ezio in. He witnesses the destruction of Monteriggioni at the hands of Cesare Borgia, son of Rodrigo Borgia, the antagonist from the last game, who is the Pope, by the way. Cesare makes off with the Apple of Eden and kills Uncle Mario. Oh, it is on now.

Ezio decides enough is enough, and makes for Rome, wherein he intends to utterly destroy the Borgia once and for all, because beating the crap out of the pope at the end of AC2 clearly didn’t send a strong enough message that the Auditores are to be left the hell alone. Rome is a beautiful, huge city, bursting with just as much detail as any of the cities in AC2, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they already had a lot of Rome mapped before AC2 came out based on the level of detail shown in the brief climax set there.

Technically, the game is pretty much identical to AC2. Which is to say that it plays fluidly and smoothly, Ezio still bouncing around the rooftops like a sexy Italian Batman, the graphics are gorgeous and ridiculously, beautifully detailed to the point where the city is very much alive with people going about their business, it feels like a real place, and it is, it’s pretty damn close to being a building for building recreation of Rome in the year 1500. The controls are as tight and intuitive as ever (ie, very) and the few technical gameplay additions that have been made feel like natural progressions and don’t stick out as obviously new.

As you free the districts of Rome by burning down Borgia Towers, you can rebuild blacksmiths, art merchants, tailors, stables, banks and doctors offices, as well as buy landmarks such as the Pantheon and The Colosseum, although landmarks do not get renovated when purchased. Everything you buy/renovate increases your income, allowing you to rebuild more of Rome faster, or equip yourself with the latest gear. As districts are freed from Borgia control, the people start to rise up, some joining you and becoming assassin apprentices. Your new Assassin’s Guild is probably the biggest addition to the single player (The multiplayer itself being the other big addition, but i’ll get onto that in a moment).

The apprentices can be trained by sending them off on missions to other cities in Europe, where they gain experience points and level up, gaining new talents and equipment, and can also be used in-game as backup for Ezio in a tight spot, summoned to attack targets, allowing you to remain undetected.

Combat has gone through the most noticeable change, it is now much more offensive than in previous games, where the best strategy was simply to counter all attacks, which looked fantastic, but was a rather boring fight mechanic. Brotherhood lets you go on the offensive much more, you can build up streaks of quick kills, decimating whole squads of soldiers in moments, and with your primary weapon equipped, you can also use the hidden pistol to execute targets.

The economy from AC2 returns, allowing much the same options as before, you can buy and repair armour, buy new weapons and art to decorate your hideout in Tiber Island, which is the base of your operations in Rome. From there, you co-ordinate with your brotherhood. Ezio can also deal with Brotherhood admin via pigeon coops and destroyed Borgia towers, which become Assassin towers. You can also collect various items from chest and fallen enemies that can be sold to shops to complete shop quests, unlocking new gear.

The storyline here is an engaging (albeit also as confusing) as ever. The in-animus stuff in 1500’s Rome is the main focus of the plot as is the norm with Assassin’s Creed, however, the player also gets more time to play as Desmond in modern day (2012) Monteriggioni, which seems to have been left pretty much alone since Ezio’s departure in 1499, as Desmond and the gang set up shop in the sanctuary beneath the villa to escape the Templars ‘cell towers’ which can apparently spot them pretty much anywhere above ground. These sections actually left me wanting to spend more time playing as Desmond, and I recommend you do take the time to leave the animus and wander around the modern-day villa, as once you get playing the story proper with Ezio in 1500, you wont come out until the climax, and after that you have no option to leave the animus without starting a new game.

Now then, for the other big addition- The multiplayer. Multiplayer is something i’m always personally trepedacious when it’s added to a sequel of a game that was originally solely a single-player experience, often because adding multiplayer can be detrimental to the quality of the single player game. Fortunately, this is something that has been avoided with recent releases like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which had excellent multiplayer, and now, thankfully, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.

Now, it’s not quite the multiplayer I think everyone was expecting. I think, (as I myself did) that many people expected the multiplayer to be in a similar vein to GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption, in that players would have access to the free roam map to run around and just muck about with friends, but also having match modes that take place in set maps or locations. I have to admit to having been rather disappointed when I discovered this was not the case, and that the multiplayer consists entirely of match games in small (compared to Rome as a whole city) maps, with only a handful of actual match options. That said, it is fun, and a unique experience based entirely around paranoia- anyone could be an assassin, and you have no way of telling before they make their move. As you hunt a target, so are you hunted yourself.

All in all, Brotherhood is an excellent and engaging game, building an the already firmly established foundations of Assassin’s Creed 2. This game is a must-play for all fans of the series, and I heartily recommend it.

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Posted in: Games, Review