Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Review
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On 04/11/2011 at 10:58 PM by Bradley Osburn
The Assassin’s Creed series shines on, continuing to improve with its third console installment.
Recommended for everyone, but as a direct continuation of Ezio’s story it would be a good idea to play Assassin’s Creed II first.
Brotherhood chronicles the continued adventures of Italian renaissance assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze and his battle against the Knights Templar over the future of the human race. As a fan of the series I was a tad disappointed that we wouldn’t be moving on to a new time period, but thankfully my doubts were demolished as Ubisoft delivered a fresh experience, continuing to refine its formula in impressive ways.
Unlike its predecessors, where the player was free to travel between various cities, Brotherhood takes place entirely in the vast city of renaissance Rome. Ezio once again faces off against the Borgia and their plans for the world. Rome is crumbling, so the reconstruction mini-game returns here. But the Borgia block progress at every turn with fortified towers, one for every district in the game and Ezio must make his way in and destroy these towers to free the area from their influence. Brotherhood remains an action-adventure game with a heavy focus on free-running, so these segments are great fun, the player having the option to either storm the grounds or sneak in and put a knife in the captain's back.
Returning to Brotherhood are Ezio’s assassin allies, this time in a much broader role, helping to drive the story forward in significant ways. The group starts small, but at a certain point in the game Ezio begins to strengthen the brotherhood. Recruits, once rescued, may either be assigned to travelling assassination missions, furthering the cause elsewhere for payment and experience, or called on in battle as an aide to Ezio. In the midst of a mission it is as simple as selecting a target and pressing a button to call on your minions for a helping hand.
Combat retains the flowing nature it was upgraded to in Assassin’s Creed II, while being added to in significant ways. New counter animations, especially the kill combo of sword and pistol, help keep combat from getting stale quickly. Ezio also now has access to a crossbow and a poison dart firing gauntlet attachment, opening up the possibility of silent ranged attacks. My favorite new addition to combat is the ability to perform a kill streak, bouncing from opponent to opponent in a whirl of blades, often times shortening a lengthy bout into a five-second blood bath.
Collectibles make their return in Brotherhood, as Ezio is once again on the hunt for feathers, flags and treasure chests. Another faction is introduced, the Sons of Romulus, and through them Ezio once again encounters hidden platforming areas, with a reward waiting for those who complete them all. Also returning is The Truth, hidden around the game world for those who want to further dive into the fiction.
The story missions this time around are tied to the chapters in a much more substantial way. Every chapter seems to have a theme, such as establishing Rome as the new setting, or introducing old friends into the world. Once Ezio finally runs into Leonardo da Vinci, a welcome returning face, the entire chapter is devoted to the series’ first version of vehicle combat. The constant changing of mission theme helps keep the game fresh.
Multiplayer makes its triumphant debut in the Assassin’s Creed universe in Brotherhood. Essentially different versions of manhunt, with players hunting players, it’s incredibly fun to play a game of cat and mouse with another human being instead of a computer, and players have access to special abilities in this mode, such as changing their character model into an entirely different one, completely throwing off pursuers.
Brotherhood is not without its missteps. Ezio’s new mastery of horses, while adding fun opportunities, sort of hobbles the ability to get anywhere in a hurry. The ability to gallop was replaced with the ability to stand up in the saddle, so forget about getting that horse up to speed because they all seem to just want to lazily trot there. The crossbow, while fun, is incredibly overpowered, making long range combat almost preferred if you want to be stealthy. There are still missions that force Ezio into certain actions instead of just letting the player do it their own way. I didn’t utilize my assassins as much as I was probably expected to, preferring to do the hunting myself. And during those hunts I once again encountered the returning problem (probably just user error) of getting stuck to walls during a chase.
But Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is still a fantastic game and a worthy addition to the series. Those like me who followed the development and worried that it would just be a side story instead of a full sequel can breathe easy. While small things hold it back and it would have been great to move the story to the next time period, Brotherhood delivers, and it’s a lot of fun.