Assassinís Creed Brotherhood
Stabby-stabby time again!
Posted 2 years ago By - JD Speedy
Another year, another Assassin’s Creed. Wait, is that right? Has it only been a year since I reviewed the epically awesome Assassin’s Creed II?
It’s a bit of a shock that Ubisoft came so hot out of the gate with Brotherhood considering the critical and financial success of Assassin’s Creed II. I mean, obviously it makes financial sense to keep the supply up while there is a demand, but I’m sure I wasn’t alone in being skeptical that even the indomitable Ubisoft Montreal team could crank out even a decent iteration in the AC franchise with such a short development cycle.
However, not only is Brotherhood a credible AC game in it’s own right, it manages to tweak and improve upon the existing gameplay enough, within the ACII engine, to make it a really worthwhile experience for even the most casual of Ezio fans.
One of the reasons I think the decision was made to not name this a straight sequel is that the game largely takes place in the exact same environment. Unlike going from the first game to Assassin’s Creed II, you play as the same protagonist, Ezio, only in Rome instead of a handful of smaller Italian cities. The story is a continuation of Ezio and Desmond’s tale that picks up, literally, after the last scene of Assassin’s Creed II. If you played through that game you needn’t worry about forgetting any pertinent details as this one is quick to catch you up. But if you haven’t played ACII, well, you’ve got no excuse. It’s fantastic and a great pre-cursor to Brotherhood. You could probably catch up with a Wiki, but it’s worth it for the context alone. Brotherhood is really, as far as the story is concerned, just more of ACII.
And it’s largely the same with the controls as well. I was more than happy with them in ACII and they remain largely the same here in Brotherhood, but, as with most Ubi games that involve non-gun combat, I felt like the action was a little slow and too defensive. In AC:B, however, the dev team worked to speed up the combat by introducing the execution system. Basically, after you get your first kill - either by reversal or by wearing down an enemy’s defenses - you can string together as many subsequent executions as you can muster before being attacked in mid-animation. This can significantly swing odds into your favor, particularly when you’re using small, agile weapons like the hidden blade. Climbing still uses the same physics as in II and it’s still just as fun.
Another gameplay development in Brotherhood is the implementation of your own Assassin’s Guild. This is the linchpin of the game and the source of its naming. Over the course of the story you can rescue citizens from the corrupt Borgia guards and enlist them in your own brotherhood of assassin’s. Then you can choose to either send them abroad on assignment, to earn money and subvert the Templars in foreign countries, or call them in to do your dirty work, keeping your hands clean and your profile low.
Unsurprisingly, it was this mechanic that stood to make or break Brotherhood and I can say, that, after many hours of playing, I’m having a hard time imagining another Assassin’s Creed game without it. It just empowers you so much. By choosing when you keep your cover and when to expose yourself, it allows for you, in certain instances, to actually use your trainees to perform particularly hard assassinations. This comes in handy doubly so when you are reclaiming land by killing Borgia Captains. They have a sneaky habit of fleeing on horseback instead of fighting and you finding a safe position to call in a hit can sometimes be the best method when you can’t sneak up on them without raising the alarm. Additionally, because you get to renovate businesses in all of Rome instead of just the small town of Monteriggioni, in a lot of ways Brotherhood is the game I really wanted The Godfather II to be. The guild features are just so well implemented and streamlined into the standard AC gameplay that the full package feels like the favorite game I didn’t even know I wanted.
On top of all that great stabby joy, there is an honest-to-goodness, fantastically integrated multiplayer as the icing on the cake. While I was one of the most vocal opponents to a multiplayer Assassin’s Creed, both on the podcast and to any of my friends that would listen, I am now both humbled and eating crow. I can admit when I’m wrong and am happy to do so now as it’s just plain awesome. If you haven’t seen the video of our epic come-from-behind win against the good folks at GameShark, you should check that out on YouTube but the gameplay goes a little something like this: Two teams take turns being either the hunters or the hunted. While being hunted, simply put, you try to look like an NPC as best you can. You wander slowly, blend into groups or just sit on benches and try to look digital. The hunting group gets a rudimentary radar that tells them approximately where their target is and they get to know what skin the opposing team is using. Other than that, it’s just up to the savvy player to discern which is a computer player and which is a disguised opponent and points are awarded for the amount of successful kills vs. avoided deaths. It is just as crazy and fun as it sounds and I was never expecting to enjoy a competitive online AC game this much.
There are other variations of this style of play embedded within the multiplayer as well, ranging from the aforementioned team deathmatch mode to free-for-all and more. Other match options are unlocked as experience levels are gained along with additional upgrades for the player like wrist gun and a nifty power that highlights a target within a crowd of look-alikes. This is also where the biggest issue with the MP lies. At higher levels, the play balancing shifts and it becomes less a game of “cat and mouse” and more just who can “kill quickly”.
AC:B isn’t that bad to look at however. The graphics in Brotherhood are somehow even more impressive than II. That was another surprise but Ubi seems to have squeezed just a little more out of the little engine that could. Considering it’s been a short year since I was drooling over Venice in II, it’s surprising just how lush and detailed the city of Rome looks. The characters in cutscenes also look a little better than II and there are fewer instances of sword hilts clipping through capes.
The sound work, again, is flawless and I am always in awe of the orchestral music in AC games. Much like II, I will probably end up buying the soundtrack on iTunes so I can listen to it on my iPod between playthroughs.
I’m just as shocked as the next guy that Brotherhood is the complete Assassin’s Creed package. When I saw that it was going to be released, as a non-numbered sequel, multiplayer focussed and so quickly after II, I was more than a little bummed out. The phrase ’cash-in’ kept floating to the surface in my mind.
But thankfully, I can once again fully endorse this experience and sing the praises of Ubisoft Montreal. This is a truly worthwhile upgrade on the Assassin’s Creed experience and sets the bar dangerously high for the next iteration. Assassin’s Creed III will have to do something insane to top Brotherhood in any respect.
+ Better combat with the addition of executions
+ The guild system really helps alleviate some of the more annoying assassinations
+ Fills my need to be a gangster at the helm of a city empire
+ Looks absolutely gorgeous
+ No load times as itís one big city
+ Multiplayer is a treat...
- Minor graphical glitches during cutscenes
- Infrequently scripting errors will trap your assassinís behind doors or walls
- Itís like crack, I canít put it down
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Release Date : 2010/11/16
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Ubisoft Montreal
Category : Action-Adventure
ESRB : M
7.0 / 10
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8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10