Unlike a lot of my fellow videogame journalist, I was never really all that impressed with Assassin’s Creed. While I thought that the graphics were gorgeous, and I loved the use of all these figures from history, I wasn’t as impressed with the gameplay. In the original, I felt like the gameplay was just too repetitive, and the second installment was just too convoluted. However, I was always excited about the potential of the franchise to break out of the realm of really good games and into the realm of great games. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood does just that by delivering what is by far the most complete and engrossing game in the trilogy to date.
After escaping the Templars’ attack at the end of Assassin’s Creed 2, Desmond and the other Assassins go to Monteriggioni and set up a new hideout in the ruined Villa, Auditore. Ezio’s story begins in 1499 as he exits the vault, still confused by what he saw inside at the end of Assassin’s Creed 2. He escapes to Rome with his uncle and sets up shop in Monteriggioni. Very shortly after that, his city is attacked by Cesare Borgia, son of Rodrigo Borgia (whom Ezio failed to kill at the end of AC2, no good deed right). The Assassins, who are overpowered and outnumbered, are forced to flee. This engagement pretty much sets up the rest of the events in the game.
Most of the problems that I had with the previous installments have been addressed. Lots of people wanted to call Assassin’s Creed a stealth game, because we tend to think of Assassins as silent, but deadly. The gameplay in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood still doesn’t quite allow you to be a truly stealthy assassin, but it gets closer than ever before. In the previous games, it was almost impossible to actually sneak up on your target without being spotted, which made it absolutely impossible to assassinate them without being detected. In Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, stealth assassinations are often required, and the gameplay’s execution of this is almost flawless. While you won’t succeed at it all the time, it is possible with patience. From a combat perspective, hand-to-hand combat has been improved dramatically. In the two previous games, when it came to going one on one with enemies, your options were very limited, which left the player feeling … well … limited. This time around, you definitely won’t get that feeling. Not only can you wield a plethora of weapons, Ezio also has a new capability at his disposal called “execution streaks”. Execution streaks allow you to chain one-hit kills together, thus allowing you to take out as many enemies as you can, without being struck. This was a welcome capability since now being surrounded by enemies does not feel so overwhelming, in fact you kind of feel sorry for all those enemies that you know are about to be sliced and diced.
As far as the story goes, Ubisoft did a great job of tying into all the previous games while keeping it simple. Whether you have played the previous two or not, you will be able to jump right into this game and understand what is going on. The thing that takes the gameplay over the top, is the debut of the Assassin’s Guild. After the events of Assassin’s Creed II, Ezio finds himself becoming the leader of the Assassin’s, which in this case means, you don’t have to do all the dirty work yourself. The Assassin’s Guild is comprised of citizens that Ezio will come across over the course of the game, whom he helps as they rebel against the Borgia. After helping them, Ezio offers to train them and show them the ways of the Assassins. Once recruited, the new Assassins can be sent on contract missions to gain experience and money. As they gain experience, they can be leveled up to access more weapons, which in turn makes them even more deadly. Where they really come in handy, is during the course of your execution of the core memory sequences. You can recruit up to 12 total assassins that can be called to take out enemies at any time by pressing the L2 button. Having the Assassin’s Guild at your disposal makes the game easier, but also allows you to be more strategic. Even better, in some cases you can call in members of the Assassin’s Guild to take out primary targets. Meaning you can just sit back and watch as one of your assassins comes out of nowhere and executes the target for you. The system features a regeneration system which must refill after you call in an Assassin. This keeps you from abusing the system. Once you have more than 6 Assassins in your guild, you have the ability to call in an “Arrow Storm”, which will instantly kill all enemies around you. I got to tell you, this will really come in handy. The Assassin’s Guild system is absolutely awesome and definitely something that they need to bring back in the next installment.
As a backdrop to the main story, you will also be tasked with removing Borgia influence from across the city, and rebuilding Rome, which has fallen into disarray under the rule of the Templars. There are 12 different Borgia towers across Rome. You will need to take out the lead soldier first, and then burn down the tower in order to remove Borgia control over the area. This system is similar to how it worked in Assassin’s Creed II, when you had to rebuild the family’s home village of Monteriggioni. This time around, you will go around rebuilding blacksmiths, doctors, art shops, banks and the like, as well as buying landmarks, in your attempt to rebuild the city.
This is the first game in Assassin’s Creed franchise to feature multiplayer, and no one can deny that it is unique. In the multiplayer mode, players are actually Templars that are training in an Abstergo facility. They use something similar to the Animus that Desmond uses, but in this case, their goal is to acquire their skills for use in real life by exploiting the same “bleeding effect” that is slowly turning Desmond into a true assassin himself. There are four game modes and several different maps. Instead of the run and gun style of most multiplayer modes we are used to, in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, players are actually challenged to move slowly as they stalk their target, while at the same time being hunted themselves. You can earn points by completing each assassination without being detected and escaping after each kill. To be honest, the mode has not changed that much since the beta, and that is not completely a bad thing. As you earn points, you will be able to unlock rewards and capabilities that will make you an even more deadly assassin.
There really wasn’t much not to like about Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I still would like to have the ability to be truly stealthy. I’m talking about the ability to get in and out, without ever being detected. As far as the combat goes, the only problem I had, is once you get into a combat situation, the game locks you into that mode, which makes it hard to focus on enemies at times, and will consequently cause you to take damage that you shouldn’t. When it comes to locking on to enemies with ranged weapons, I definitely wish that was a little more accurate as well.
A major problem I had with the first two was that they seemed to be more focused on setting up the next game than telling the story of the current game. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood doesn’t have that problem. While I feel that the franchise still has room to grow, this game demonstrates the potential that this franchise truly has. With the events that occur at the end of this game, I am starting to wonder just where the next game will go. There are definitely a lot of possibilities and I know where I would like it to go, but I guess we will just have to wait and see, though we won’t have to wait long if the rumors of another Assassin’s Creed in 20011 are true. For the excellent job they did on addressing most of the flaws of the first two games and creating one heck of an engulfing game experience, ZoKnowsGaming gives Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood by Ubisoft 8.5 out of 10.