Assassins Creed has been one of my favourite game series in the last decade. I enjoyed the first two immensely and have spent the last week playing Brotherhood on the Playstation 3 – the important question however …. it is worth your time, or is it just a rehash to cash in?
Brotherhood picks up right when Assassins Creed 2 finished – this means the games are very interconnected. If you haven’t yet played the other game, pick it up before you play the new title, otherwise various aspects of the game will seem rather disconnected.
Ezio returns home, deep in thought that his search for revenge has been sated. As he plans for the future, things take a sudden twist against him. His home is attacked by Cesare Borgia as he hunts for the Apple of Eden, a powerful treasure. Ezio falls victim to the attack, is badly injured, and Borgia escapes with the Apple of Eden safely in hand.
Obviously you now take control of Ezio on his latest mission – to avenge the attack on his homeland and to acquire the Apple. Hopefully while doing all this you can kick some ass and put an end to the hostile Cesare Borgia. As Ezio enters Rome to fulfill the array of tasks ahead of him, he sees that the city is under the ruthless control of Cesaro and his corrupt father, Rodrigo. While Ezio normally has selfish goals, he can’t help but notice the plight of the downtrodden people who are suffering under the leadership of these evil men.
He decides, while he is resolving his objectives that he will free the city from their tyranny, one area at a time. This is quite a task for one man, regardless of how skilled he might be, so he asks for the help of the citizens of Rome, enlisting some into the Assassins Guild.
All Assassin’s Creed games mess with the mind, and this one is no exception. While you are controlling Ezio, you are actually doing so through the mind of Desmond, a modern day assassin who is reliving the memories of his ancestor Ezio through a machine – entitled the Animus. This time we are treated to more back history and some sections where we can control Desmond, in the modern day. As before, you can leave the Animus at given times and interact with the team – it isn’t an integral part of the game, but it adds a little more diversity to the proceedings.
Brotherhood, on a story level is entertaining and quite deep although it is hard to compete with the second title, as it was a phenomenal piece of work. The plot is solid, if a little confusing at times, however I have been hearing that many people have been a little disappointed with the overall script. I can’t say I had issues with it, but I really do enjoy the gameplay elements, which thankfully are as strong as ever.
The gameplay is great, although I found the start of Brotherhood a little annoying. It did exactly what I hoped it wouldn’t do – set up a situation for you to get your ass kicked. You lose all your cool weapons, your additional strength bonuses and everything you earned before. I get the reasoning, but I hate the fact they feel they have to do it. Why not make the people you fight better? Starting the third game at absolute n00b level just irritated me, I knew they would do it, but I hoped a more intelligent system might be in place, but sadly not. As you progress through the missions, you level up. Exactly like before.
As with previous titles, there are many side missions and quests to achieve, outside the main goals of the game. You can help to right the wrongs caused to many civilians and you can help to wrong the rights if you see fit. I always liked the fact you can take various paths through the side missions if you wanted.
A new mode has been added in Brotherhood – the ability to free parts of the city from the Borgia rule. These missions are called the “Borgia Towers”. These towers are spread across the city and each of them highlights the influence of the Borgia family. When you enter these areas you have to take out the captain of the guard and free the people from their rule. These are assassination missions which can either be easy, or rather difficult. After you take out the captain of the guard you climb the tower and hit a button to blow up the structure (handy they planted explosives on it for you right?). Once the guards are gone, you can purchase other structures and deal with the games economy system. It works rather like the ACII economy system, but it is bigger. You can buy and upgrade tailors, banks, blacksmiths – this gets you discounts when you buy things from them. Yes, you pay your store owners to get upgrades, not really logical, but thats how it works.
Combat has received a few tweaks, but sadly it is still as flawed as ever. It is an aspect of the game we all know and love (or hate as the case may be) as it revolves mainly around counter attacking. They have added a new counter system which means you can line up multiple counter attack targets for cool looking chain kills. Otherwise it is the same, ‘counter attack, then kill’ method … with the exception of tough soldiers who take a little more work to dispatch. I have always found the combat tedious, but surprisingly it never ruined the game for me, as I found it only a small part of the overall experience.
The ‘Brotherhood’ are a group of assassins that you have recruited from ordinary citizens in the game. Midway in the game, you can send them on missions throughout Europe to get experience, or keep them close to home for special attacks. Every time you get a Borgia Tower destroyed you have access to another guy – for a total of 12. Once you reach Level 10, your trainees can become fully kitted out assassins. They can take out targets, and even help you with tougher enemies if you call them into the fray.
Multiplayer is actually quite enjoyable, as you are placed into a specific area with a plethora of lookalikes and are then given a target to kill. Meanwhile someone else is hunting you. You pick out the target from the crowd and if you choose the non human player then you lose him. If you perform ‘stylish’ kills you get extra points, but be aware if you start acting in a very ‘human’ manner then your identity will stand out. I enjoyed it for a full day, but I can’t say I would find the desire to spend much more time within it.
Brotherhood isn’t breaking new ground, Ubisoft seem quite happy retreading a familar path with the newest title in the series. For fans however this will be everything they need, but it isn’t going to attract people who want something fresh and new added to the genre. It is a stunning action game and it looks better than ever, I can easily recommend it. If you didn’t like the other titles however, best moving on.