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Assassin's Creed Brotherhood is one of the games I got free with my PS3. It would not have been title of choice if I'd had a free selection and it actually sat unplayed and still shrink-wrapped for over two years. Once I tried it, though, I was hooked.
You play as Ezio, a Master Assassin in 15th century Italy, engaged in an on-going war against the powerful Templar and Borgia factions. Ezio must travel to Rome to undertake missions which will undermine the power and authority of his enemies, paving the way for victory.
Assassin's Creed is a real joy to play. In many ways, it is like Batman: Arkham City - an open world arcade adventure where the main narrative is based around undertaking specific missions and taking out enemies, whilst retaining the freedom to go anywhere and do anything. It also retains that game's RPG elements where you can collect cash to buy upgrades to your armour and weaponry or recruit allies and send them out on missions of their own - always fun to experiment with.
It has a strong narrative which features an excellent story, expertly woven together. You really get a sense of progression as though your actions and successful completion of missions really are making a difference. The story is brilliantly immersive and you start to identify (or hate) the various characters you encounter and become determined to take out the Borgia swine. Thanks to this immersive storyline (which occasionally branches out into unexpected areas) Assassin's Creed Brotherhood is one of those rare, highly addictive titles. If you're not playing Brotherhood, you're thinking about it. That's how good it is (and if you don't believe me, just ask Mrs SWSt who had to put up with my obsession!)
Brotherhood is (apparently) a sort of sequel to Assassin's Creed II (which I've never played, but is now on my Christmas list - hint, hint Mrs SWSt if you're reading this). Yet at no time did I feel lost with the narrative or have the sense that I was missing out. It remains accessible to newcomers and veterans alike.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is a genuinely exhilarating game which sees you running across the rooftops of medieval Rome to outwit enemies and kill them without detecting you. Stealth games are not normally my cup of tea - the requirement to move slowly from cover to cover requires more patience than I have. For the most part, though, Brotherhood gives you a choice. On all but a few missions (where remaining undetected is compulsory), you can either use stealth tactics or just throw yourself into combat gung-ho. Brotherhood perfectly combines stealth with action, making it perfect for people like me.
Missions in the game are varied and interesting, different levels of difficulty. You will rarely get completely stuck, but there are several missions that you will have to replay before you finally complete them. Even this doesn't put you off, because you always feel like you are making progress. In the compulsory stealth missions, for example, you learn from previous failures and get just that little bit further each time, encouraging you to keep going until you finally reach the next checkpoint.
In a way, that's one of the most appealing things about Brotherhood. You will rarely get stuck for too long, but there's always a long term challenge. Once you've completed the main story mode, you can aim for 100% completion or undertake side missions, so there's still lots of game time in the title. I've probably sunk well over 50 hours into it and am still only at around 65% completion
This, though, is the one area where Brotherhood blots its copy. Getting 100% completion is incredibly difficult thanks to some really tough targets. Some missions, for example, have to be completed within a very tight time limit and just one mistake can often scupper your chances of achieving it. This can make it very frustrating as you may need to replay the same missions again and again. Happily, I'm not a completist and am happy to just get as far as I can before moving on.
Graphically, the game is no less impressive. Sure, facial textures don't always look right (a common issue with PS games) and there's the odd glitch where a foot (for example) goes through a wall or the floor. Taken on the whole, though, they are brilliant. The re-creations of medieval Italian cities are convincing, full of period architecture and Rome looks fantastic. Better still, the graphics are incredibly fluid. Racing along the rooftops feels so natural, so fast; and the graphics rarely stutter or fail because you are going too fast.
One of my initial concerns was the controls. A glance at the instruction booklet suggested there were an awful lot of them, with the same buttons serving different functions, depending on what Ezio was doing at the time. Thankfully, whilst this is perfectly true it's not an issue. A context sensitive image in the top right hand of the screen tells you what the key buttons do at any one time so a quick glance there will help you out. After playing for an hour or so, though, even this will become irrelevant. The controls are so intuitive that I didn't need to refer to the instruction booklet once and had no trouble controlling Ezio more or less from the off.
If you're after a great action/stealth game with a strong story line, interesting missions and great action sequences, then Assassin's Creed Brotherhood is well worth taking a look at. A new copy can be picked up for as little as £9, with second hand copies cheaper still. .
And the moral of this particular review? When you get a new game with your console, open it immediately and give it a go. You never know, you might just like it!
© Copyright SWSt 2013
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
[see my review on 'Assassin's Creed II': The Second Assassin Who Also Likes To Think He Came Before 47 But, Like Altaïr, Didn't Really Either'. Please note that there may be a few spoilers of the story of this game in the following review]
Due to the heightened success of 'Assassin's Creed II', Ubisoft Montreal believed it fitting to continue the story of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, picking up, just like the first game, right where its predecessor left off. Firstly, for those of you who haven't played the game, or haven't read my previous Assassin's Creed reviews, you are Desmond Miles in modern day, an apparently innocent New Yorker who was kidnapped one day and forced to relive the memories of your ancestors through imprints in your DNA. In 'Assassin's Creed II' (herein: 'ACII'), you began exploring the life of your second known ancestor: Ezio Auditore da Firenze, and spent the game roaming around places in Italy, such as Florence, Tuscany and Venice. Your quest was to find 'Pieces of Eden', ancient artefacts with extraordinary powers that are central to a war that has been ongoing for centuries: between the Assassins and the Knights Templar, the latter of which were the ones to kidnap you, under the cover name of 'Abstergo'. The scientist who originally planned the operation was planning of disposing of you after exploring the memories of your first ancestor Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad of the first crusade, but his assistant Lucy saved you and moved you to a safehouse where you began reliving the life of Ezio. The scientist, Vidic, however, by the end of ACII, found you, forcing you to find a new place to hide while you continue to delve deeper into Ezio's memories. Your story continues in 'Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood' ('ACB').
You are Ezio in Vatican City in 1499. You've just spared the life of Rodrigo Borgia (or Pope Alexander IV), the man behind the execution of your family, and pursued to enter a mysterios vault with a 'Piece of Eden'. In there, a hologram of the Goddess Minerva speaks to you, but more intriguingly, to Desmond in the modern day, much to the confusion of Ezio - and Desmond for that matter. She speaks of an ancient civilization that once subsisted with the early humans on earth, and that a catastrophe nearly destroyed everything and everyone. The survivors constructed 'temples' to prevent a similar occurrence in the future - and this refers to a specific occurrence that ultimately, these Assassin's Creed games (from the first game to the fifth and final game in the series, 'Assassin's Creed III' which is due out at the end of this October) are based around: December 21, 2012 - the supposed end of the world. "The rest is up to you", she says. Upon returning to your Uncle's home in Monteriggioni, the fortified villa grounds are attacked by Cesare Borgia, son of the man who you spared. Cesare kills your Uncle Mario, and flees, leaving Ezio to escape safely with his sister Claudia and his mother. You find yourself once again seeking revenge against the Borgias, and to do so, you travel to a corrupted Rome.
You are Desmond Miles, in the Animus 2.0 (the machine that allows you to relive the memories), in the back of a truck on the road, and on your arrival, you are awakened from the Animus. You have come to the Auditore Villa in Monteriggioni, which was a central part of your experience in ACII. Of course, this is 2012, and it's all been modernised; remnants of the historic Borgia attack are still very visible, and modern day cars are dotted around as well as various other objects. Lucy (Vidic's assistant who saved you), Rebecca and Shaun (who assisted you during your time in the Animus in the last game) and yourself find your way into the hidden cellar inside the villa that has only become known to you through your reliving of Ezio's memories. Here, you set up camp, far enough underground to avoid being tracked, and you must return to the life of Ezio Auditore once more.
As you find your feet in 1499 Roma as Ezio, you learn more about the city's dire state. Cesare and the Templars are supreme in the capital, and the minor Assassin's Guild is failing in its fight against them. Reuniting with Niccolò Machiavelli, Ezio states his desire to up the ante, as it were, and ultimately hunt down Cesare and kill him. Machiavelli also points out that it might be wise to learn from mistakes and remove Rodrigo Borgia from the picture too. And so Ezio begins. It's your job to rebuild Rome and eliminate the corrupting forces. As a player, you are required to renovate various shops, buildings and famous Roman landmarks, but before doing so, you must remove 'Borgia influence' by killing various Templars and free the area of its hold. In the meantime, you have various quests to complete, but also a wide variety of side-missions that allow for hours upon hours of gameplay. Ultimately, you are liberating Renaissance Roma of Templar forces, removing corruption and rebuilding a lost city.
Once you accept that this is a video game and that it is likely to be very over-the-top and cheesy, there's actually quite a good story to it. Yes, like ACII, many cutscenes and dialogues are a bit sickly, but generally, it is very well executed. Following in its prequel's footsteps, the missions you must undertake are logical and relative to the story whilst being varied - I'd say that ACB actually features more varied missions than ACII. There is certainly a heightened level of stealth involved, helped by the 'Full synchronization' addition. Every mission you complete, whether it be a main or a side-, can either be completed with 50% synchronization by simply completing the quest, or with 100% by also abiding by a clause, making the mission more challenging and for the most part, more enjoyable. In some cases, however, the clause can result in quite a fumbly experience that requires the player to have to repeat the mission over and over to try and achieve full synchronization. And what hinders this further is the way missions in the game are designed. Firstly, you cannot restart from checkpoints, which means that if you failed full synchronization for whatever reason and want to give it another shot, you need to 'desynchronize' yourself by either getting yourself killed (which, due to the odd combat & health system, is very difficult by simply getting yourself into a fight), deliberately failing your mission or jumping off a very tall building, all of which can be very annoying and time-consuming. And in some missions, when you revive via a checkpoint, you've failed full synchronization anyway, and have to restart the entire mission, which in some cases (i.e. very long missions) is extremely frustrating. That said, this addition of 'Full synchronization' adds a more competitive and elite level to the experience, and ultimately results in longer gameplay.
'Synchronization' is a buzz word in the Assassin's Creed games. It is important, as Desmond, that you remain in 'sync' with Ezio by not doing anything that he wouldn't do. For example, killing more than one or two citizens (which can be done accidentally from time to time) may get you 'desynchronized'; running too far into an area that Ezio can't fully access will too, and as will doing something wrong in a mission. The idea of 'synchronization' came about in the first game ('AC'), where it would be of paramount importance for you as a player to 'synchronize' yourself with your surroundings by climbing up to the top of certain buildings. Since AC, the importance of such an act has diminished, to the point where in ACB, you have only 24 buildings to use to synchronize, and 12 of those are Borgia towers that you automatically use to synchronize with after you destroy them following the assassination of their respective Templar leader. I think it's a shame that this concept has become less central to the games. The Assassin's Creed games have always prided themselves on stunning visuals, breathtaking views and gorgeous graphics. ACB is set in Rome, and they outdo themselves once again with how liberating it is to sit on top of the Colosseum and look around at beautiful surroundings, and it's a shame that you are only required to do this 12 times, in essence. Of course you can climb to the top any building you want in the game; the sandbox style of gameplay allows for free roaming, which is fantastic and very enjoyable. Also, in AC, synchronizing would reveal to you what quests were nearby to help you towards your assassination mission. Due to the distinctly different style of gameplay in ACII and beyond, this has become somewhat obsolete, but I still feel that they could have rebuilt on this idea as it is a good one.
The Assassin Creed games are cinematic experiences. Games are leaning more towards that direction these days, and with the current standard of graphics combined with the competition and thus people involved in development, you can understand why this opportunity has been grasped tightly. Personally, I think game developers are getting slightly carried away. Games have become too easy, and sometimes people don't want all of the cinematics, they just want to chill out and play. ACB, like ACII, is very easy. They have added some features, like the aforementioned 'full synchronization' aspect, that add difficulty, but contrastingly, the addition of weapons such as the crossbow make eliminating guards and progressing through missions much more straightforward. The combat system has been improved once again with ACB, but with the fluency of kill streaks now increased, this too has been made easier. This notion arguably agrees with my point that players just want to 'chill out', but I think it's gone too far. And while the gripping story is very enjoyable, if say you were on your second run-through of the game and didn't necessarily care too much about reliving all of the cutscenes, the effort you have to go through to skip one - sheesh! Press pause, which in itself isn't anywhere near as quick to load up as other games, and then go down to 'Skip cinematic', before having to wait a good fifteen to twenty seconds before you can start the mission - you may as well have just watched the bleeding cutscene!
With ACB, so far we've had the change of scenery (from smaller towns around Italy to one big city - Rome), the slight change of gameplay and the combat system and some improved elements. The biggest addition to the series that ACB makes however is the Assassins Guild, and despite it being quite a cool feature, it only adds to the simplicity of the players' experience. At around a third of the way through the main missions, you are required to help out various citizens around Rome, all of which seem to have got themselves in a little pickle with exactly three Roman guards. By saving them, you recruit them to the Assassin's Guild, and you can send them to missions across Europe and the Middle East in order to earn money, ultimately for you to spend on your main quest of rebuilding Rome. However, when they're not out getting you dosh (and themselves 'XP', or 'experience points' for you to improve them and customize them with), they're at your disposal. By the press of a button, you can either send two assassins to kill a group of guards or even a target, or you can hold the button and all of your assassins will fire arrows at a group, killing them instantly. Of course this can't be used constantly, and there is a wait between kills, particularly with the 'Arrow Storm'. But like I say, this is just another element that allows you to sail through missions with ease, however cool it is.
It is important that this review is partnered with my previous review on ACII (about three reviews down from this one), because 'Assassin's Creed Brotherhood' is very similar to its prequel. This means that, despite a review full of niggles, this is a very, very good game. It's not perfect, and they are absolutely getting there with ACB; stunning graphics and visuals, enjoyable gameplay, an engrossing story and much more. Where it falls is with various glitches, the rising easiness of gameplay, an inferior soundtrack (again provided by Jesper Kyd, but it just doesn't quite live up to that of ACII) and other small issues. But I can ensure you that this is great fun to play, and really interesting. For the story, the Dan Brown influences are once again omnipresent, while in the case of simple gameplay, Ubisoft Montreal are clearly focussing on providing a game in cinematic style and appealing to a wider audience. ACB, like ACII, is a wonderful experience. The music may be 'inferior', but it still provides a fitting accompaniment to the romance of Renaissance Italy, served to you as a visually and physically stunning representation of early 16th century Rome. Follow Ezio Auditore on the second and penultimate chapter of his story as an Assassin, and draw ever closer to the Assassin's Creed conclusion.
You take up the cause of Ezio de firenze in this sequel to Assassins creed 2, basically you are now based and fight in Rome and you are there to finish the job that you failed to complete in the prequel, that is to kill the new Pope, Roberto Borgia and successfully recover the two pieces of eden.
Although not quite as long as Assassins Creed 2 in terms of actual storyline missions, I believe there are around fifty missions in comparison to Assassins Creed 2`s seventy missions. However, there are as you would expect lots of other side missions that you can do, such as mercenary, courtesans and thieves guild missions as you help them reconstruct their following, they wil help you complete your missions along the way. In additon there are also 'Romulus' missions, here it is the same as the Alteir armour missions in AC2. In AC2, there are 6 missions to find and complete that test your ability to clib and jump over things as well as your patience, in order that you get 6 pieces of tablets to gain a new unpurchasable armour. The same happens with these missions, here you do 6 missions to gain the unpurchasable Romulus armour, the best in the game.
You also have 'pigeon' random assassinations, and for some reason its up to you to also rebuild rome, by purchasing and renovating all the categories of shops that you find in AC2, like armourers, artists and doctors shops and you also have to renovate fast track tunnels that enable you to travel across the city quicker, as his can be quite a chore. But there is also a new twist, you cannot renovate these things unless you take out the borgia influence in that part of the city. That means that you have to assault and kill around eighteen garrisons worth of soldiers and most importantly a borgia captain, then burn the garrison to the ground. Each garrison destroyed means you can operate a bit easier in that region of the city, but not with impunity.
I am a little shocked that this game starts running, what I mean is that the training is all within the Animus save screens, which u an do at anytime, this is better then AC2 where you had to go back to Montegionni to train each time. But the game starts fast, you will be expected to fight sergeants, captains (who are very good swordsman) and brutes (large armoured soldiers) with heavy weapons, the only way to kill these guys is to didge around the side or disarm them, which you cant do with other troops around. You will be expeced to be able to free run quickly and know how to locate and stealth assassinate, blend in, bribe and hide with little or no training....this took me at least one game, AC1, to master and I was still honing these skills in AC2
So newbies to the franchise will find this very difficult and will spend some time 'off animus' to get up to speed.
You can also collect borgia flags, of which there are 100 to gain a special prize at the end, or the usual 100 feathers again to gain another prize (I won`t spoil them for you, but one of them is Ssooo not worth it).
Whilst not in the animus, you play desmond with the usual front and back stories, and mid way cut scenes, You get to explore modern day montegionni if you want to, waste of time if you ask me, but it looks wierd being there where you spent so much time in AC2 and then being there in this game with Fiats sittingideally near by. Of course the modern day continuation of the battle between the Assassins and the templars unfolds in line with the back story of Ezio.
But I knew that as it ends I would miss Ezio as the next AC is set in mongolia with a different assassin derived from the blood line of alteir and set in 1600.
The graphics are the same , if not better then AC2, the gameplay engine is the same. The soundtrack is alittle better then AC2, when you take up a serious mission the soundtrack kicks in and sets the mood.
having played games from the assasins creed series before i was hoping the guys and gals over at Ubisoft had brought out a game that was as good as the older ones but without that repetitivness that was found in earlier series, the result was better but still not as good as i was hoping , it was good for a while but again i started to get bored it was just a case of doing the same thing over and over again , the combat is still abit limited, i thought the days of pressing square as fast as you can would be over by now , you can use attacks like counter and grab but even with that its still very basic for me , i want more combat style like found in the new batman arkam city in which the combat play is far superior , other aspects of the game though are still very very good, the new addition of the brotherhood is excellent i really enjoyed using the trained assasins to help me on my missions , you can command recruits you have trained to assasinate enemies without being detected so if you are stuck with no idea how to avoid detection you can have the obstacle eliminated , you can also call for assistance during combat and up to 3 assasins will come to aid you in battle , the downside of the brotherhood was for me that it was introduced to the game too far along , by the time my recruits were well trained and i had them doing whatever i asked without fail or being killed i had compleated the game .
So you must be wondering, what is the point in this game? Its just another Ezio game. STOP WONDERING! This game is worth owning! Firstly, the gameplay has somehow been improved since AC2 although how they managed to improve on that I don't know because AC2 was great to play. The combat system now flows beautifully and you can knock up huge kill chains if you are a brave soul. Being able to score a counter then move into 1 hit kills then back to counters without sacrificing the kill chain is brilliant and makes play much more fun. The story arc is the usual Assassins Creed rollercoaster ride with a brilliant narrative curve. The big villain Cesare Borgia is brilliantly crazy, evil and power hungry which is what makes for a perfect enemy. The rebuilding Rome side mission is pretty cool and not to be sniffed at. The addition of being able to ride horses inside the city is incredibly useful as well, allowing for easy chase scenes and very fast travelling. The multiplayer is also incredibly fun. The games feel fast and crazy and are incredibly enjoyable. This is one of the few games that I still enjoy going online with. The graphics are also spectacular with Ezio still looking great. All in all, a great game that will keep fans of both this series and fans of all period narrative games very happy.
I received this game as a gift for my birthday and could not have been happier. It's engrossing gameplay and enjoyable multiplayer absorbed much of my time for almost two whole weeks of fairly solid play! The most impressive part of this game is the phenomenal environment; as opposed to the decent sized cities from all over Renaissance Italy of Assassin's Creed 2, this game is set in the single, vast city of Rome. This means that many familiar icons crop up and as with all structures in the Assassins Creed series, are completely scalable! Free running and combat remain unchanged from Assassin's Creed 2 and this is hardly a bad thing; the fighting system is solid and the free running is perhaps the best in gaming to this moment. The addition of a brotherhood of assassins is not as fun as it sounds, mainly proving a micro management task as you send them on missions over which you have no control, except for the percentage chance of success. For the most part you will be too busy enjoying the fabulous landscape and action to be had in the lengthy story arc to care about your other assassins. As always many famous historical figures appear in jumbled roles, thrown in to advance the convoluted plot - the Borgias are present, as is Machiavelli, Micoletto, etc. The only gripe I have with this game is it's terrible plot. The Assassin's guild and it's rivalry with the Borgias is great, and solidly entertaining, but there seems literally no need to have the whole game framed by a computer simulation run by characters it is almost impossible to care about! The sooner they dispense with this terrible plot device, the sooner they will have a perfect game.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is by far and away one of the best games I have played. It is a continuation of Assassin's Creed 2's story, featuring Ezio Alditore de Fiorense. Whereas 1 and 2 may have felt a little tedious or samey towards the end, what with assassinating, climbing, assassinating some more and then climbing again, Brotherhood seems to get away from this. The graphics are as stunning as always, Italy revelling in its glory. The added extra is also very fun, the ability to build the Brotherhood, hiring set NPCs as assassins and sending them out on missions or calling them to fight by your side. Not only does this add to the strategy of the game, it also maintains your innocence, provided you don't get involved in the brawl yourself. Besides, on which other game can you claim to have seen the Pope, climbed the Colloseum and run along an aquaduct which you have just rebuilt?
I would recommend this game to literally anyone with any degree of skill on any console. I guarantee you will not feel as if you have wasted your money.
Much more evolved than the original, and improving on the second's experiments, controls, style of play, and realism of them game world environment have all improved drastically. The Assassin's Creed franchise feels as if it is very nearly at its peak perfection, which will be Assassin's Creed 3 (this is unofficially 2.5).
I personally find the control system slightly tweaked, and a lot more functional than in the second game. Customisable controls remain in the form of camera alterations and stick sensitivity functions, something that should be in every game.
Expanding on the ability to buy, manage and profit from buildings, introduces fresh audiences, and rewards classic players for their faithfulness in the series. I rarely play games where you have to use building in such a way, yet I found it enveloped quite nicely into the Assassin's Creed universe, and excellent touch.
Whilst walking, riding and jogging round Rome, I cannot help but notice the changes in visual fidelity since the first game. I was in awe at the first Assassin's Creed, I am in love with this one. The cities look more realistic, the guards are less annoying than before, and the people react and engage with you and each other slightly better. But at the same time, all of the fun flaws throughout the series have remained, clearly to give the gamer a fun experience over a "perfect" one. An excellent decision by Ubisoft.
I think Ubisoft realised in Assassin's Creed 2, that not everyone will love Ezio, so they included Altair's outfit late on in the story (depending on how long it took you), well from the start of game almost you can wear Altair's outfit. I love this.
No spoilers here, the story is excellent, it is by far the best in any game I have ever played to this day. It beats Black Ops hands down, and my dropped when I played that for the first time, which by the way was in 3D on a 100 inch full HD screen.
The game looks as beautiful as ever, yet has been improved. One thing to note is that I am spotting visual lag in some sections, especially when running now. Perhaps I am more used to PC games with higher refresh rates. Hint, stay away from the PC if you love your console!
This game has so many bit and pieces hidden in it, along with the fact that there is a want to explore just as strong as the want to complete the game, that you may just take your time getting there. This game will last till Christmas and back again.
Brotherhood is one of those games you will be able to pick up in a few years time and still want to play it. It will have a very long lifetime.
Anything to be aware of?
There is so much in Brotherhood that it is hard to not what not to be aware of. If there is one piece of advice I can give, it is this, enjoy the game, take your time playing it, do exactly what you want in that world, and love it.
It is rare that gamers are treated to a franchise as original or well developed as Assassin's Creed. Arriving on consoles in 2007, the series has manifested in six incarnations on four different systems and each time it has surpassed expectation. The world Ubisoft Montreal are building is fleshed out with every release while the story becomes more captivating without become incomprehensible. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is probably the finest entry in the series so far.
For all the newcomers, Assassin's Creed is a cross between period adventure and futuristic science fiction. Each entry follows the journey of Desmond Miles, a drifter from the not too distant future. A man with a distinctive pedigree, Desmond is the latest in a long line of significant, historical assassins. Using a device known as the Animus, he is reliving the memories of his ancestors, searching for clues to a puzzle unfolding in his own time. Eventually both Desmond and the player will discover an ancient conflict between the Assassin's Order and the Knight's Templars, each side fighting since the crusades over some oddly anachronistic technology. It's a compelling setup that allows the series to approach both narrative and gameplay in ways quite different to many modern games.
Brotherhood presents itself as an epilogue to Assassin's Creed II. Once again we follow Desmond's renaissance ancestor, Ezio Auditore and return to the rooftops of 15th Century Italy. Where Assassin's Creed II turned some significant pages in the series' overall story, Brotherhood really is a case of "what happened next?" As Assassin's Creed II was drawing to a close, the game strongly hinted that Ezio's role in larger events was finished. Brotherhood supports this with a story that is more concerned with Ezio's personal struggles and the time he is confined to. Coming into conflict with Cesare Borgia leads to the destruction of his home and a revolution in Rome, while there are still secrets to uncover that will affect Desmond's future, it basically amounts to little more than "where did Ezio leave the keys?" While the contribution to the series narrative is minimal, within Ezio's life the game deals with much larger things; tasking you with bringing about the downfall of an entire city. Ezio himself has grown as a character. Much older than when we first joined him, he seems somewhat weary of his life in charge of the Assassin's. A greater sense of responsibility has replaced his recklessness and while it's a somewhat cliche development, it's still a rewarding feeling to watch a familiar character develop. While the contribution to the series narrative is minimal, within Ezio's life the game deals with much larger things; tasking you with bringing about the downfall of an entire city.
Series regulars will find themselves to be on familiar territory here. Many of the series' fundamentals remain totally unchanged and you will still spend most of your time leaping from rooftops, dodging guards and sneaking into buildings to chase down your target. It feels identical to Assassin's Creed II and rarely breaks from your expectations in this respect. As before, the series is largely centred around climbing and free running. This is fairly simple to perform, holding down a couple of buttons puts you in free run mode. Run at a wall and you'll climb it. In the past the series has taken some criticism for this control method, the suggestion being that it removes control from the player. Rather, it is about emphasisng a different form of control. The player doesn't necessarily tell the character when to jump, however the player does find the next ledge or foothold, tracking the right path up or down. It's not everyone's cup of tea but it doesn't bother me. Where Brotherhood branches out in new directions is in your gradual domination of Rome. Unlike previous games in the series, you are largely confined to Rome here. This isn't too much of a restriction as Rome is significantly larger than any of the cities in previous games, however it does change the gameplay somewhat. Your long term goal is to remove Borgia influence from the city, this is done by destroying Borgia landmarks. After this is done you can the purchase businesses and beauty spots in these areas. This will provide you with an income, useful for purchasing assassin's supplies but also creates areas in the city that are a little like safe zones where allies congregate.
Brotherhood, as the title suggests, also lets you take a little of the Assassin's burden off your shoulders. As in all previous Assassin's Creed titles, occasions will arise when you can save some oppressed townsfolk from harassment. Doing so will recruit the individual to your cause and give you backup in tricky situations. You can call in around five assassins at a time, useful if you're heavily outnumbered or need a distraction. You can also assign them to assassinate specific targets, a handy option if you're having trouble reaching a victim. Between your own escapades you can send the recruits on missions around the world for the assassins. Here they will help turn the tide against templars around the world while you sit back and collect the loot at the end. The benefit to this (aside from cash) is that your assassin's will strengthen up and provide much better support the next time you call them in to back you up. The combination of recruiting civilians and buying up the businesses gives Brotherhood a juicy subversive feel. At times you really feel as though you're building an army and spreading influence. It's not perfect and I'd love to see it tackled a little more organically, fluid amounts of guards and way of taking territories based on influence and enemy strength would make it feel a lot less like risk. However, it's a hard feeling to cultivate in a game and works well as an extension to Assassin's Creed II.
Periodically the game will take you out of Ezio's life and plant you in the future. The future is a lot more compelling this time around and its nice to see Desmond and the modern assassin's taking more action. The story is allowed to build up a lot more than normal and you get the feeling that Ubisoft are setting the stage for an Assassin's Creed title that involves a lot less animus. When the inevitable flagship of Assassin's Creed III sails along it'll be interesting to see if they can bring the series to a natural, satisfying close.
One area I can find no fault is in the graphics. While I would expect no less from this series, it is one of the most stunning games I've seen since Assassin's Creed II. This is partly because a large amount of effort has gone into producing detailed designs and rendering them well, partly due to style. The game reproduces renaissance architecture and then lets you climb all over it. It's stunning to climb to the top of the tallest building in Rome and just look around. You can see for miles and it's genuinely breathtaking. Something few games can claim.
Lastly, I suppose I should take a minute to mention multiplayer. As I've no doubt mentioned before, I don't much care for multiplayer so I'm not the best person to judge, but I did enjoy it. While I didn't spend much more than a week with Brotherhood's multiplayer, it was a fun week. The game essentially asks you to choose a disguise, you will then be placed in a segment of town with various other players. A target will be randomly selected and you must track down that target, who will no doubt look like a lot of the civilians hanging around, and assassinate them. Meanwhile someone else out there will be tracking you down. I didn't stick with it because after my one week, I felt I'd seen everything there was to see. But then that's how I feel about all multiplayer so don't let it put you off. It was fun, original and clever; it even contributed to the plot mildly. It's definitely worth a look if multiplayer is your thing.
Brotherhood is not a perfect game by any means. Its biggest shortcoming is that it remains, at best, an expansion to Assassin's Creed II. In its defense, it is huge, but with all that extra content it does so little. The building of an underground resistance is absolutely enthralling and I'd have loved to see more done with it but I suppose we can't get everything. It's absolutely beautiful, as usual, and the voice acting and writing is all to a good quality. It delivers what it promises, more Assassin's Creed II, and I would argue that's worth the price. Just don't expect a revolution.
A direct sequel to Assassins Creed 2, you play as Ezio, an early 16th Century Assassin aimed with the noble duty of cleaning Rome from the corruption of the Templars and recover the Apple, an item of the Gods. Or, more accurately, you play as Desmond Miles, a man in the year 2012 who hops into the 'Animus' to relive the memories of his ancestors. This is bad news for gamers intent merely on gaming because, though few and far between you will occasionally be forced to play out events of the story. Thankfully however there are skippable cutscenes and the story is more endearing thanks to the charm of Ezio.
First off, let's talk its advantages. The first is what makes this series so successful. The free running and jumping from building to building is absolutely fantastic, feeling so fluid, and making it a joy to explore the vast city of Rome. Being one city, it also lacks those pesky loading scenes of the previous games when travelling from place to place.
The combat is perhaps is equally as good. With a choice of fast attacks and counter attacks the combat is simple to master and you have a sufficient arsenal of weapons to carry out your killing. It is a little easy, and for those who concentrate dodging and countering will mean you won't lose much health though give me largely easy and fun combat over frustrating combat any day.
Next on the tick box is the story mode. A big complaint in the first game was the repetitious nature of the gameplay. Find information on your target, scout for a bit and go for the kill. It had great potential though the gameplay was too limited. Thankfully this has been corrected with the latter games, which bring a bit of diversity to the gameplay. Mostly you still will be hunting down people to put a knife in their neck, though it is freshened up with a couple of chases, missions where you have to tail your target and missions involving the use of Leonardo Da Vinci's inventions. They don't always pay off of course, with vehicle missions being an annoyance of mine though it certainly breaks up the gameplay a little.
Side quests aren't much different. They are pretty simple and will normally involve combat of some sort, meaning that though they won't keep you coming back to the game months after you have completed it, it's something that is fun to do if you are just in the mood to free roam and explore.
When playing as Desmond, something those not interested in the story will not look forward to, the gameplay takes on a bit of a Tomb Raider style. The gameplay is based on exploration, not assassination and that too provides some diversity in the gameplay. Being taken from the brilliant environment of sixteenth century Rome is frustrating, though the exploration at least gives some interest to the story of Desmond, something I found lacking in the first game.
The "Brotherhood" part of the title is due to the side story of having to raise a brotherhood of assassins. Largely this is unimportant, though it does give way to some nifty features. To train these assassins you send them on contracts, and as they level up they become more efficient when you call them to aid you in battle. It's quite unnecessary, but the ability to call in some assassins for some aid in combat is quite fun, even if a little overpowered.
As to the negatives of the game, there isn't a huge amount to say. The game is far from perfect though the developer really has taken on board the criticisms of the first game in both Assassins Creed II and Brotherhood and created a much better game. The only real problem is the economy system in the game. As you liberate Rome you buy shops, such as Blacksmiths and Tailors and in doing so generate some extra money for yourself. It's a side task to do as you go around doing missions though quite early on when you have the best armour the only real reason to get there properties is to generate money to buy more, which becomes a little useless. Attention to economy is unnecessary in a game such as Assassins Creed.
When this game was announced many said it should have been DLC for the second Assassins Creed title. The biggest argument against this is the addition of multi-player to the series. You play as a random assassin with the aim of putting a knife in the back on another player. The player you are hunting is, in turn, trying to hunt down someone else in a map filled with NPC's, which allows you to (as in the main game) blend with them, making sure you don't stand out the person trying to hunt you down. It's a great experience, helped because it is largely unique. It's not a type of gameplay I have seen online before and it really is fun, trying to blend with the crowd whilst hunting someone down, wondering when to make your move, always knowing that the second you do, you are revealing yourself to whoever is trying to track you, meaning you have to make the fast decision to run and hide, or blend with the crowd once more.
It isn't the type of online game that will have you addicted for months to come though it is a nice addition to the series, showing it is always expanding, always improving and it will keep you occupied for a fair amount of time yet.
Overall, I conclude it is a fantastic game and fans of the series will not be disappointed. Released on the PS3/360 and soon to be released on the PC (18/03/11) it can be purchased for £25 on Amazon.
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood is finally here!
A year after Assassin's Creed was released Assassin's Creed Brotherhood makes a fantastic sequel. Fans of the series will not be dissapointed. Once again it follows the story of Ezio Auditore, once a man from an Italian noble family now an assassin, this time around he is creating a guild of assassins to help him free Rome that has befallen this architectural wonder of a city. Ezio Auditore is an ancestor of former assassin Desmond Miles, he accesses his ancestral memories via a device called the Animus.
The game begins with Ezio Auditore exiting the vault in the Vatican but it doesn't truly start until his villa comes under attack by Cesare Borgia's forces son of Rodrigo Borgia. This leads to him being shot and ending up in Rome and seeing how civilians are being treated he joins forces with the thieve, courtesans and mercenary guilds to free Rome under Borgia rule. This leads to him being able to create his own guild of assassins and recruiting civilians you save from Borgia guards who pledge their loyalty to you.
The story of Desmond Miles continues with the group trying to search for the Apple of Eden using his ancestors experience. This part of the game is set in 2012, when they are escaping from the Templar's grip and end up escaping to the Monteriggioni villa, the one once belonging to Ezio Auditore, where they set-up shop and continue with their quest to discover the location of the Apple of Eden.
The game comes with a lot of new features including the anticipated multiplayer, it also has the assassins guild, the ability to purchase landmarks as well as shops and plenty of side missions and the training room where you can hone your combat, free-running and stealth kills. Now, onto the multiplayer, it is a great addition to the already great game, it includes several modes, a couple of which are alliance in where you team up with another player to take down another team of two and wanted in which you get assigned a target to kill while being chased yourself.
In total the story varies between 5-10 hours depending if you go straight through the story or not, it takes up to an extra 20 hours possibly to complete all the side-missions as well.
The controls are similar to the previous games but if you are a newcomer it will take a while to get used to as the control scheme is unique. The graphics of the game are, as always, out-standing, they make the game look as real as possible with the technology available at this day and age. There is always something going on in the game, varying from guards watching you or civilians gathering round a dead body.
It is a great game and I would advise fans of the series to get it as soon as possible and anybody else also get this amazing feat of gaming technology.