Review by Fitzer-91

Reviewed: 02/09/11

A welcome edition to the franchise

Assassins Creed 2 was undoubtedly a huge improvement over the first, almost everything was changed. A new character: Ezio Auditore da Firenze was introduced, the repetition from the first game was stripped out and made room for a bulk of side missions and the combat had more fluidity to it. Almost everything in AC2 was improved upon which is why it was one of my favourite games of last year.

In Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, you pick up exactly where you left off from the last game, the battle between the assassins and the templars rages on and you take the role of Desmond, a normal guy who holds the key to discovering the truth about his ancestors. Desmond is able to travel back to the time of his ancestors using a device known as the animus. Through the animus, Desmond can re-live the life of Ezio, an assassin caught in a war with the templars. Although the story surrounds Desmond, the bulk of the game is played as Ezio.

AC2 ends after defeating Rodrigo Borgia and venturing deep beneath the Vatican, he encounters the goddess Minerva, who begins speaking to Desmond through Ezio. The game throws you straight back in the meat of things by picking up exactly at this point in AC:B. Ezio still has no idea what’s going on and returns to the villa in Monteriggioni to relay what happened in the Vatican. Shortly after, Cesare Borgio(Rodrigo Borgia’s son) launches a full scale attack on the Villa causing Ezio to lose everything. Ezio seeks revenge on Cesare to take back control of Rome once and for all. The story is a little weak but it does have its moments keeping you interested enough until the end.

The game world is situated for the most part only in Rome, but this is no bad thing, the city of Rome is huge. The streets are full and lively, the environments are stunning, the ruins are detailed and varied and you will see a few familiar locations, e.g The Coliseum. Even though, you’re confined to Rome throughout the game, not once does it feel like you’re restricted, it truly is an amazing setting.

In AC2, there was an interesting idea surrounding your Villa in Monteriggioni, where you would rebuild the locations surrounding the Villa, such as blacksmiths and tailors. It was a good idea at heart albeit a short one, you could max out all locations in a matter of minutes if you had the money. In AC:B, this idea is improved upon in many ways, now the entire city of Rome is under Borgia control. Borgia towers are located in each city and Ezio must defeat the templar in said area and burn the towers thus freeing the city of Borgia control. That city can then be improved upon by upgrading the shops, for example, if you wanted better equipment, simply take back control of the area and buy what that city has to offer. It goes beyond that too by adding shop quests which reward better equipment upon completion. Take into account that not every Borgia tower is easily destroyed and it might take a few tries to get it but when you do, it provides a great feeling of accomplishment.

As this is a direct sequel to AC2, the scope of the game feels quite similar, the game plays exactly the way its predecessor did which is by no means a bad thing but things could begin to get stale for some people. Thankfully, Ubisoft provided a few major tweaks to the gameplay to ensure things are not stale for too long. The biggest edition to gameplay is the assassins guild, whereby you can recruit lowly citizens and train them to be professional assassins. There are a number of contracts you can issue to them ranging from 1 to 5 stars of difficulty so choose your missions wisely as not every assassin will make it back if your careless. When they’re not off fulfilling contracts, assassins can aid you in battle. If you wish to remain undetected, simply call forth an assassin who most of the time will strike down your enemies from stealthy positions. As you burn more Borgia towers, the more assassins you can recruit, sure it might make the game a bit easier but there is nothing more satisfying then calling 6 assassins to help you take down a legion of soldiers.

Another tweak Ubisoft made was to the combat, there are even more kill animations now and they all look brutal and bloody, and the introduction of the kick mechanic to break an enemies block is a nice touch although most of the time, if you are surrounded, enemies will still wait there while one of them attacks and its also a little distracting when your running on rooftops and an NPC spots you only to give up looking when you hang from the side of the roof, but it doesn't take too much away from the experience. You can also ride your horse wherever you want now which makes travelling a lot easier which is a welcome factor even though your horse gallops and a frustratingly slow pace. There is also the introduction of 100% synchronization on a mission, if you carry out a mission a certain way, e.g remaining undetected or not killing any guards, you will get 100% completion on said mission, it provides a sense of awareness and carefulness which is a nice touch.

Some frustrations do occur in AC:B though, like the camera refusing to cooperate with you at times. This is particularly annoying when in tight spaces such as tombs, especially if your trying to get 100% synchronization. The camera will get fixed in places making the plat forming tougher then it needs to be, at times you cant fully see the next ledge and your left to perform a leap of faith, which is(when your four floors up) kind of annoying. There are also certain issues with the lock on system at times, its mostly a loose lock on system, and sometimes it will change at its own free will, this can be quite frustrating when trying to aim at a specific target.

A new introduction to the Assassins Creed world is multiplayer. Before you say anything, this is unlike any online game you’ve played before. You are given a target to kill while another player is on the hunt for you, there are a few different characters to choose from and the objective is to blend in as much as you can while making your way to your target. Obviously, running around like a mad man will get you spotted immediately. Levelling up then unlocks certain perks such as camouflaging yourself as another player or giving yourself the smoke bomb ability to get away from your killer. You don’t get the most points by having the most kills, more by killing your target in the stealthiest possible manner, it truly requires you to think about how your going to take your victims down. There are four game modes which is more then enough to keeps things refreshing. The multiplayer is new and creates tension in games, its disheartening to be killed just as your about to line up your kill from a haystack but it is a welcome edition to the franchise.

Overall, AC:B is a great game, it takes what made AC2 great and improves upon most of it, but although I enjoyed the experience, this game is really aimed for die hard fans of the series. The core gameplay is the same that you know and love but those looking for something new and refreshing probably won’t find it here. All that taken into account, the addition of the assassins guild and multiplayer certainly stand out and are a welcome treat. The game looks stunning as ever, the voice acting and musical score are fantastic and the overall presentations is solid and although the story is nothing to write home about, it does its job for what it is. If you craved more at the end Ezio’s last outing, then this is one trip back into the history books you do not want to miss.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (EU, 11/19/10)

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