Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Review by Syko_666
"I commend you Ubisoft!"
I loved Assassin's Creed II. The gameplay, the setting, the story, the art design and the music. It was well-executed. I also liked the original but I cannot deny that it had major flaws that detracted from the overall experience. The best way for me to sum up the original is sound ideas, poor execution. It's sequel on the other hand was what Assassin's Creed should have been it kept what was good about the original and dispensed with the bad parts and added more variety in the missions, and now we find ourselves back in the saddle as Ezio and I must say I'm impressed at how much of a leap Ubisoft have made, no pun intended. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is the best game of 2010, and I'm not saying that lightly. Everything about the game is well executed and it's much bigger than ACII in terms of aesthetics and gameplay, which is what I'll be addressing first.
Considering how much they added to ACII you'd be thinking that the well was running dry so to speak. But apparently not, the player has a whole new load of options available to him/herself. This is the first game in the series where we can take the horse into a city which is an option that was inexplicably missing from the last two games. The combat has been tweaked to be based more on offence, once you score an execution you can go into a chain of very inventive and flashy moves that are both satisfying and pleasing to the eye. In fact the only thing that hasn't been changed in some way is the free running and that's actually a good thing because it's the only thing in the series that's perfect. They've made the control scheme more responsive but aside from that free running is pretty much the same. I must also applaud Ubisoft for the setting, Rome is the only open city in the game and it's understandable why. It's the biggest city in the series thus far it's so big that having any other open cities would be overwhelming. But a big city means nothing if you have nothing to do and this won't be a problem since the game is jam-packed with side missions. I've finished the main story and I still have LOADS of side missions left to complete. You also get to recruit your own personal group of Assassins to aid you in battle. How this works is you take out one of the Borgia towers throughout Rome and this earns you a recruitment slot you then go and help a citizen who is fighting some guards, after you've killed every guard you then speak to them and they will join you. You'll gain the Brotherhood Assist Move (BAM) which is a nifty little tool for getting out of a tough spot or clearing a path. You simply target an enemy and press L2 and one of your Assassin brothers will show up and take him out. This would make the game too easy but it's actually limited when your BAM meter is at maximum you can only use this ability a total of three times and once you've used them up you have to wait a minute for a block to recharge. You can also order your assassins to perform an arrow storm which sends a hail of arrows down on every enemy in the general vicinity but this takes up all three of your metres. You can also send your assassins out on contracts in other locations throughout Europe which gains them experience so that they can level up and eventually they'll reach the rank of Assassino which makes them almost unstoppable. The economic system from ACII returns but it's been expanded to the entire city. As you liberate more parts of Rome you'll be able to renovate shops and it will make your income increase. You can also purchase landmarks such as the Colloseum (which is entirely open as your playground I might add) or the Pantheon. Another problem with ACII, though it was only a minor inconvenience, was that you had to go to Monterrigioni to collect your income, this problem has been also addressed as there are banks located throughout Rome which can be renovated and the more you renovate the higher your deposit limit will be. The platforming puzzles from ACII also return in form of the Lairs of Romulus. These puzzles are challenging and a joy to go through and I'm glad to see them return. You can also do missions for Leonardo Da Vinci, which are the most varied and inventive parts of the game. Without spoiling too much of the story Leonardo has invented weapons that are being used for purposes that are contrary to Ezio's cause and each mission is centered around sabotaging these war machines and all of them are based on things that Leonardo Da Vinci actually designed. Overall in terms of gameplay Brotherhood doesn't have many problems. You can also take on virtual training challenges which can be accessible from the pause menu at any given time. The only significant problem is that sometimes it will lag and let's face it that problem is minor compared to the immense amount of qualities present here so it won't affect the game's score in the slightest.
The graphics in the first two games were some of the best I've seen in a current generation game. ACII also made good use of it's setting in terms of design. Brotherhood is perhaps the best in the series when it comes to visuals. In fact standing on top of a building and admiring the view has never been more rewarding in a video game it's almost like looking at a moving piece of art. The character models are also well-designed, Ezio himself looks much cooler than he did in ACII and the guards are much more varied this time around. The landmarks are also replicated extremely well, you really feel like you're in Rome during the Rennaisance era. Overall this game wins in terms of design and graphics.
If you've played ACII then I'm sure your reaction was the same as mine which was something along of the lines of "ACIII is going to be epic" while this isn't ACIII, Brotherhood starts right at the moment where the last game ended and it also continues Desmond's story as well which takes a surreal turn that makes ACII's ending look like an ordinary stroll through town. The plot in this game is well-executed on both fronts. Ezio's story is the most interesting of the two though. This time the stakes are higher since the Assassins and the Templars are fighting for control of Rome which, for anyone who doesn't know their European history, was the very centre of power in Italy during that period. The characterization is also exceptional. Ezio himself is still a smooth ladies man but he has clearly matured. Niccolo Machiavalli is well-represented here as he was known for being a great strategist and an efficient diplomat. Some of the supporting characters from ACII return and some of the ones who were only minor characters have been given more important roles in the story. There is even a clever little arc about Ezio's sister Claudia and the small menial part she played in ACII. I also liked what they did with the relationship between Machiavelli and La Volpe, I won't spoil anything but it's resolved in a very clever way. But a hero is only as good as his villain and Cesare Borgia is one heck of a villain. You'll hate this guy from the moment you see him and his character is also interesting in it's own right. Overall the plot is well put together and I'm glad we got to see what happened to Ezio after the events of ACII.
The voice acting is well done for the most part. While some of the imitated accents are a bit off-putting and sometimes humorous the European actors do an exceptional job. The score is also well done. Some pieces from ACII return but there are also some new ones added and each of them add to the atmosphere. The sound effects are also good but this is to be expected these days.
When I first heard that they were going to do a multiplayer for this game I was a bit skeptical. It didn't seem like the kind of game that would be compatible with multiplayer. But I'm glad that I was wrong, instead of appealing to the lowest common denominator (I'm looking at you Bungie!) they actually had the guts to do something different. The game is based around stealth and you have to be very observant to be any good at this game. The idea is simple you are given a target, a visual representation of what character model they are using and your objective is to find and kill them. You gain more rewards if you kill them stealthily. You can use all the basic hiding spots from the main game including the haystack, blending and benches. You have a compass which indicates where your target is and how far away they are. Of course this would be too easy so you have loads of AI characters that look the same as the players to keep you guessing. You'll also have people out for you too which keeps you on edge. If your target spots you, you'll enter a chase which is actually the best part of the multiplayer. It's very exhilarating to chase your target and kill them. It's also the same if you spot your pursuer. The way you escape isn't that much different from the main game except it's made more difficult since your pursuer is controlled by a human instead of an AI. You first break the line of sight and then you hide and they will look for you until the meter reaches zero and that only works if you're hidden well. To put it simply the multiplayer adds to the already enormous amount of content in this game and it's executed very well.
Overall Brotherhood boasts a massive amount of new content and excels on all fronts. It's the biggest game in the series and it has an equal amount of quality and quantity which is something of a rarity in open world games. I am glad to say that it has earned 10/10 for me which is a score I do not hand out lightly.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/03/11
Game Release: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (EU, 11/19/10)
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