Assassins Creed: Brotherhood is out and looking to indoctrinate gamers into the Assassin’s cause. Ubisoft Montreal has delivered the next installment of the open-world historical series only a year after the very well received Assassin’s Creed 2. But fear not, that will give you every reason to adhere to the call of the Brotherhood, slay some Templars and brush up on your Italian.
AC: Brotherhood picks up exactly where the first game ended – (SPOILERS) with protagonist Ezio Auditore standing bewildered in a secret underground passage way underneath the Vatican in Rome after defeating resident in Templar (bad guys), Pope Rodrigo Borgia. Ezio has just had an encounter with what can only be described as a goddess and has learned some things that would be shocking to someone living in this day in age, let alone during the Renaissance. The story is plainly and simply a continuation of the last and your goals remain the same – to slay every mind manipulating Templar you see and let freedom will reign supreme.
Of course their is Desmond Miles too, our everyman turned Assassin (and therefore world) savior in the present age. The “bleeding effects” of the Animus (the machine used to let Desmond see his relatives’ lives play out, Ezio in this case) are having some very empowering impacts on him. No spoilers given, but he is really starting to let his roots show. Desmond, Lucy, Shaun and Rebecca are on the run from the modern-day Templar agents of Abstirgo and they, along with the rest of the Assassin Brotherhood, are on the hunt for more Apples of Eden, the mind controlling super devices that the Templars seek to enslave mankind (for their own good, of course).
The story is fantastic again in Brotherhood and if you have been following the series since the first AC, it only gets deeper. The ending will blow your mind, perhaps not in a positive way either, but either way, you will want AC3 in a hurry.
AC: Brotherhood’s gameplay changes (or enhancements really) over its predecessor sends this continuation of the franchise to new heights.
It’s hard to decide where to begin, because the new content is just so plentiful and all of it is drenched in “awesome-sauce” – lets start small: Ride horses in cities now? Check. Hijack horses from guards by stabbing them in the gullet with your hidden blades? Check. Pick up heavy weapons like spears and claymores and hurl them at your opponents for one of the most brutal looking (and sounding) kills in gaming? Check. Item crafting by collecting lesser items from fallen enemies, completing side missions, looting treasure chest, and sending out your very own Assassins on missions across Europe? Awesome vehicular sequences? Multiplayer that is awesome and not tacked on? Check, Check, Check!
Big enhancements were made to the the combat. Combat has been given the Batman: Arkym Asylum treatment where Ezio can now perform combos kills and string together attacks. For example, counter-kill one guy, then while the kill animation is playing out, hold the left joystick at the enemy behind you and tap the attack button (“X” on 360 or “Square” on PS3) and as soon as you finish killing the first dude, you will move to the other and execute him in an always flashy fashion. Combo kills cannot be blocked by enemies. Instead, what you have to watch out for is enemies to grab you and break your combo or attack the wrong enemy (the one that is not about to attack you) and you could have your combo broken. It has to be seen to believed, Ezio has never been a killing machine like this. It breaks the monotony of waiting to be attacked…oh and those guards that just block all your attacks, you can now kick them in the gut a few times to lower their defenses while u stab them in the head with your knife… then throw throwing knives in two of their buddies (if you hold “X” or “Square” while executing him and point toward them).
The upgrading system has made a return in a big way, a very big way. in AC2 players could upgrade the Monteriggioni Villa, which just consisted of a very small little town. In AC: Brotherhood, there is no more Villa to upgrade, instead, Ubisoft Montreal has given us the entire city of Rome (I’ll take it). As you conquer Borgia Watch Towers (the Borgia are the ruling family of Renaissance Rome – TEMPLAR ALERT) by killing the highest ranking guard at the tower’s site then setting it ablaze, you gain the ability to renovate the closed down shops in that district. Shops include weapons/armor shops, tailors, banks, horse stables and artist shops. Each shop you buy increases the amount of money you earn at the bank. All the banks are linked together and you can withdraw from any. Pretty much everything from AC2 makes a return in Brotherhood and some of those things have been refined or expanded upon in some way (did I mention you can scale the Coliseum? Because you can scale the Coliseum. It’s epic.)
There are loads of new mission types that are varied and appropriate, and each side quest has a deep enough plot line to make it plausible and feel meaningful to your cause.
A huge new addition to AC: Brotherhood is the ability to recruit Assassin’s of your own to form your very own Assassin’s guild or Brotherhood (see now it makes sense right?). Every time you destroy a Borgia tower, two new assassins become available for recruitment. The assassin’s can be leveled up to gain better armor and weapons by completing missions. You send them out on missions of various labeled difficulties and they earn experience, money for you, and sometimes items for crafting. The coolest thing about them is that they can die. This might sound odd, but you start to feel attached to them because if they die, it’s completely your fault. The more difficult a mission is, the more assassins you should send and the more experienced they should be before going out. No worries, there are “odds of success” percentage ratings to keep you in the know. Suffice it to say, I felt terrible after calling in one of my assassins to aid me in an escape and they died. They don’ t re-spawn. Two others died on missions.
All the content in singe-player will likely take you close to 50 – 75 hours to complete in its entirety. And you can’t get 100% Synchronization (completion) without carrying out missions or assassinating targets in specific ways. So you may end up replaying missions (which you can go back and do at any time) later.
There’s even a multiplayer component after you’ve savored enough of the single-player campaign. It’s fun, original, deep. It basically puts players in a small sectioned off map a few blocks in radius and gives each player a target to assassinate. Players are limited to killing only their assigned human targets while AI clones of them walk around the map to throw you off. There’s a smart compass that gives good indication of where the person is and the closer you get to the your target, the more clearly the compass points to them. It sounds easy, but when a target can walk in a group of 6 other people that look identical to himself or herself, it gets pretty dicey. If you assassinate the computer, then your contract ends on that person, they escape, get points, and the game shoves you off onto a new player to kill. Two things that keeps everything moving is that all kills are assassination kills (so don’t expect duels), and players can never be assigned to kill each other, that is Player A can be contracted to kill Player B and Player B can be contract to kill Player C, but Player B can never be contracted to kill Player A while Player A is contracted to kill him.
All the slick parkour moves that Ezio can do in singe-player are available for all to do in multiplayer. Kills give experience and depending on the type of kill and how stealthy or flashy of a kill it was, players gain more experience for it. Gaining experience lets players rank up which in turn gives players new equipment and abilities to play with. For example, there is a perk that can cause all AI in a blending group with a player to change to his/her character model, and there is equipment to use smoke bombs, poison, and the wrist-mounted gun. Its all balanced and fun.
To close, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is in no way a glorified expansion pack. Just because it came out in a years time after the last installment in the franchise does not make it any less awesome. As a matter of fact, AC: Brotherhood is, in every way, a better game than Assassin’s Creed 2, and that is saying a heck of a lot. The gorgeous graphics, immersive environments, fantastic animations, great voice work, music… everything you ever loved about the AC series, it’s all there and more. You can partake in it all if only you would become a member of the Brotherhood. From the time you pick up the controller until you see it the credits roll, Assassins Creed: Brotherhood will have you screaming, “Nothing is true” (except this game being infinitely excellent) “Everything is permitted” (except for being able to stop playing this game).
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood gets a perfect score of 10/10 because I can not think of one bad thing to say about it except that it left me wanting to get put in cryo-sleep until the next installment in the franchise releases.