Review by HoshunMk112
"Arguably the best in the series, and arguably a must-experience game"
As of 12/10/2010, I have completed the single player campaign with 100% sync, and have reached the maximum level of 50 in multiplayer. I have completed all achievements..
So, the much-anticipated sequel (of a sequel, no less) has finally arrived. As a fan of the series, I can say with confidence that, in my opinion, this is the best game of the series and definitely a must-have game.
GAMEPLAY - 4.5/5
The game handles like its predecessors. You've still got one button for each portion of your body (Y for head actions, A for legs, B for one arm, X for the other). RT still lets you free run in high-profile mode, so on and so forth. The free-running can be a bit touchy at times - sometimes Ezio will simply run up walls when all you want to do is run around a corner. It's still quite fluid and natural though.
Combat still leaves something to be desired. On the one hand, it's an improvement over AC1 and AC2 - in combat you aren't simply waiting to counter-kill everything. You now have more options - you can kick opponents to make them vulnerable for a moment, and you can chain "executions" together after killing an opponent, meaning after one kill you can one-hit kill multiple opponents thereafter. However, that is the problem - while you aren't always waiting to counter-kill, you're now so vastly overpowered by comparison that once you kill one guy in a group, you can largely kill the rest without much problem. However, when opponents hit you they can hit rather hard and chain attacks together. They can also grab you, throw dirt in your eyes, and use other dirty tricks against you.
As for the stealth, it's still stealthy. You move in crowds instead of shadows, jump into copious amounts of hay, and in general act like a hooligan. It's all still a lot of fun. The assassination missions are fairly diverse in what actions you are expected to take, but they lack the freedom seen in previous Assassin's Creed games. Whereas in AC1 you could very nearly perform the kills in any way you wanted, in AC:B the kills all feel very scripted. They're still a ton of fun though, and overall mission diversity is good.
There's a lot to be distracted with in this game. Once you have some freedom in Rome, there is a LOT to do. You can buy buildings which will not only provide you with much-needed infusions of cash every 20 minutes, but it will also gradually change the way the city looks. Streets which started off as being packed with beggars and drunks instead become bustling with the upper class, complete with women with parasols. You can buy abandoned buildings to move in various factions, which provide not only money but also people to hire. You can buy old sewer tunnels which allow fast-travel across the (enormous) map.
Beyond all that, you can buy various armors, weapons, paintings, maps, and such at the other stores. You can also do shop quests - retrieve various items from treasure chests, couriers, pickpockets, and highwaymen and you can exchange them for better items at the various shops. Beyond all that, there's another set of unlockable "super armor" to obtain, as well as the all-too-well-known Flags, Feathers, and such. You can even recruit fledgling assassins, send them on missions across Europe, level them up (which is kind of lacking, honestly), and summon them in battle to kill guards and do myriad banal tasks.
Overall, there is A TON of things you can do in this game - I spent about 17-20 hours in the single player campaign unlocking everything there is to unlock, and it's still a ton of fun to run around in Rome and just act like a hooligan.
SOUND - 4.5/5
The voice acting has taken a step up. There's still the familiar voices for Lucy, Shaun, Desmond, Ezio, et al. However, the Italian accents in-game seem to have improved a bit - they're no longer "IT'S-A-ME, MARIO" Italians, but rather something a bit closer to the real deal. They're still a bit overdone, but the people behind the voices have clearly taken some classes.
The music is fitting - it's period music, and it does what it needs to do. When you're running in the city, or out in the countryside, the music never fails to be appropriate and engrossing to the experience. In some instances it can be downright creepy.
However, fans of Assassin's Creed 2 will notice that there are a number of sound bites reused from that game. While it isn't downright obnoxious or awful, it detracts from the experience a little bit, knowing that besides recycling the gameplay (which isn't a bad thing at all), they also recycled some of the sounds.
GRAPHICS - 4.9/5 (you'll see why)
They're simply beautiful. Movement is generally well-rendered and fluid, textures and models look gorgeous. People's faces aren't completely hideous, although you'll find that a number of characters have had their models revamped (Caterina Sforza looks completely different). Animations are fitting and kills look sufficiently nasty.
The only weird bit to the graphics is that the ragdoll physics engine could use a lot of work. Bodies move and die in extremely strange ways sometimes - arms and legs bending ways they shouldn't, that sort of thing. It's more comical, to me, than a bad thing though.
The city and the countryside look absolutely beautiful, and fairly authentic according to people I know that have visited Rome. Obviously, the city won't be reproduced stone for stone, but they've captured the essence quite well.
ONLINE PLAY - 5/5
When I first heard of an online multiplayer component, I was a bit reluctant to think it a good idea. Then, I got to thinking ... it could be REALLY fun. Ubisoft has obviously put a lot of time into the online component, because it largely works perfectly.
Basically, most gameplay modes boil down to "you need to kill this person, and ONLY this person. Avoid being killed by any number of people that are after you." You get a baseline of 100 points per kill, with modifiers added to it based on circumstances. Were you sneaky and clever, leaping out of hiding on an unsuspecting opponent? Or did you run at them full-speed? The more clever, sneaky, and flashy you are, the better your rewards are. As you play more multiplayer your profile levels up, granting access to various abilities, perks, character skins, equipment, color palettes, and game modes.
It can be hard to get those big-point kills, though, as much of the online multiplayer base at the time of this writing seems to be happy to run about like a caffeinated child, bouncing around on rooftops and generally acting like a twerp. It can be hard to win as a methodical player, as those runners have a tendency to force you into chasing them, lowering your kill score. Then it becomes less a game of quality and more a game of quantity, which is far less gratifying.
There is no need for "character balance" as all of the characters are simply skins. What defines you as a player are your choices of abilities, perks, and streak bonuses. While overall balance seems to be pretty solid, a few abilities do scream out as being a touch overpowered. However, due to the nature of multiplayer it generally balances out - if a particularly skilled player is getting too high in points, they'll tend to have more pursuers on them (at least in Wanted/Advanced Wanted), and as such will have to be much more careful not to end up dead too often.
Overall, it's a remarkably deep multiplayer experience that makes you play the player, and not just "select the best character". There are no special moves, no build orders, and no optimum builds. There is simply you, your prey, and those hunting you.
OVERALL - 5/5
This is a magnificent game. I highly recommend it to everyone. I also highly recommend you play the first two before this one, as you may have no clue what's going on otherwise. Ultimately, this game is definitely worth your time and money.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/22/10, Updated 12/14/10
Game Release: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (US, 11/16/10)
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