Assassin's Creed has quickly established itself as one of the premiere gaming franchises out today. With the introduction of Brotherhood to the series this statement is further inforced with yet another entertaining, quality and exciting game. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is exactly what fans of the series need to hold them over until Ubisoft releases Assassin's Creed 3.
Brotherhood takes place right after the conclusion of events in Assassin's Creed 2 and pits you once again as Desmond Miles controlling his assassin ancestor, Ezio Auditore. The story of Brotherhood begins with a series of events occurring in Monteriggioni, Ezio's home village. Ezio's enemies have come to exact their revenge and these events that transpire plot out the path for the rest of the game as you search for vengeance. In Brotherhood Ezio is on a mission to finally defeat the Borgia and remove their oppression from Rome.
Unlike Assassin's Creed 2, Brotherhood takes place almost entirely within Rome which is unfortunate, as the location diversity of the second game was a truly great feature. Not all is lost though as Rome is still a large and expansive world with several districts and environments to explore. Aside from barriers that prevent you from exploring certain areas too early, everything is accessible. Almost every building and environment in scalable, but the ability to climb structures is not obvious and blends seamlessly into the world. Because of this seamless integration and fluid motion mechanics, Brotherhood has some of the best platforming in any game of late.
Brotherhood will take you all over Rome tasking you with a wide range of missions, from destroying secret weapons of war, to assassinating key enemy personal. The diversity of missions changes up the gameplay and lends itself well to making this game more than just simple assassinations. Missions in Brotherhood also have a larger scope than previous games. There are several missions linked to your old friend Leonardo Da Vinci that task you with taking out large machines of war such as tanks. There are also those missions which require large amounts of platforming as well as sneaking around. All of these mission styles offer their own perks and aside from a few quests which require you to tail a target and are rather unexciting, everything else is gold. Each missions incorporates different mechanics of the game and a few even introduce some new elements that are surprising and fun.
Combat in Brotherhood is another fantastically well done element, it is amazingly simple yet extremely enjoyable. Ubisoft has perfected their combat system making 14 kill streaks extraordinarily easy yet when pulled off, every bit as satisfying as combat in any other game. When in 'fight' mode you can deflect, counter or attack, all of which is as easy as pushing a button, yet all of this does not make combat feel cheap or easy. Timing is still important and being able to jump from one enemy while deflecting another attack is great fun.
There are some new additions to Brotherhood and although minor, do add some additional novelty to the game. One example being you now have the ability to save and then recruit citizens to become assassins who will aid you at your request. This is an entertaining new feature but since the combat is so easy and satisfying you will scarcely use your companions. While you progress the story it seems recruiting these citizens will play a big role in the finale of the game. Unfortunately though when it comes time to finally conquer your enemies it becomes apparent that these recruits were little more than a new gameplay gimmick.
Aside from all the gameplay and missions, you can simply marvel at the scope and detail paid by Ubisoft in recreating Rome. Each landmark is meticulously done and the city is inhabited by countless citizens who will aid you, beg for money and annoyingly get in your way as you try to flee a horde of enemy guards. Getting around Rome and the world in Brotherhood has also been improved. Anytime you desire a horse, simply blowing a whistle will bring one to your side. There's also underground tunnels you can purchase and upgrade that allow for quick travel between different districts that spawn the large Roman landscape. You also you have the ability to purchase and upgrade buildings that in turn creates a greater profit for you to accumulate and spend on new armour, weapons and gadgets.
One of Brotherhood's strengths is the fact that aside from the main quests, everything else is optional. You can traverse the city taking contracts for assassinations, saving random citizens and recruiting new assassins. You can also search high and low for flags, feathers and rebuild abandoned banks, factions and other buildings. All this freedom of choice does come at a price though as Brotherhood is really two separate, but related stories. While you play as Ezio, your concern is in Italy and destroying the Borgia, but back in the present day, Desmond is still involved in the battle against Abstergo Industries. Throughout the game, playing as Ezio, you can follow clues that Subject 16 has left (another former Abstergo patient) and unlock the secrets and story behind Abstergo. If you completely ignore these clues, you are missing out on a subplot of the game, and certain events will seem random and unconnected. To truly get the full experience from Brotherhood you will need to explore and discover more than just the game's main plot line and missions. If you explore the world and examine all the clues and follow both plots, Brotherhood can take over ten hours. If you just fast track it, skipping all the side quests and optional missions, you will miss out on major story lines and come out of Brotherhood feeling a bit cheated and confused.
Multiplayer in Brotherhood is also a new addition to the series and although a promising idea, does not have the depth that will keep many people playing long after the release date. Essentially the gameplay within the multiplayer is a cat and mouse type game. You as an Assassin's have a target that you must hunt down and kill. At the same time you can have one, or several people trying to follow and assassinate you. The method that you kill your target earns you more points and is how players are ranked inside the individual matches. Killing an enemy in a secluded area without alerting your victim will give you more points than running after and killing your target in the middle of a crowd. Although the game is relatively fun, it does not offer any real depth that will have lasting value. It's nearly impossible to fiend off an attacker, leaving you only the ability to run away and hope they do not lock on and kill you. There are a few variations on the same gameplay mode, but working in teams to assassinate others is just as shallow. As you rank up, you unlock new abilities such as disguising yourself as someone else or the ability to use smoke bombs. Overall the multiplayer is a fun addition, but lacks all the necessary components that make a multiplayer game survive over time.
Brotherhood is an extremely fun game, with some new elements added that keep the series fresh enough that it does not seem like just an extension of Assassin's Creed 2. The fantastic platforming, deliciously satisfying combat and new features make Brotherhood a worthy addition to this great franchise. Aside from the occasional camera glitch and frustrating combat lockons, the game progresses and plays almost flawlessly. The addition of multiplayer paves the way for enjoyable gameplay that puts a cherry on top of this already content filled package. If you are a fan of past games or just in the market for an exciting, diverse and high quality experience, look no further, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is for you.