Considering that the first two Assassin’s Creed titles offered trips to the “Animus” offering two completely different character experiences, many assumed that the third title in the series would offer a brand new ancestor for players to experience with Desmond Miles. This, however, is not the case with Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood , which instead builds on the story of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, who played the role of protagonist in Assassin’s Creed II. Between the direct sequel and the multiplayer that is added to this entry, is this title worthy of being in the series? Or is it a quick cash in based upon the success of the second title on the PlayStation 3?
Those that played Assassin’s Creed II will feel right at home when they fire up Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. The game picks up right where the second left off, literally. Also for those that have not played Assassin’s Creed II may not want to continue seeing as how the storyline portion of this review may contain spoilers.
Ezio finds himself returning to Monteriggioni, the village of which you rebuilt in the second title, and Ezio reveals all which he learned while in Rome trying to track down Borgia. After revealing this information to his fellow assassins, all seems to be well; Ezio believes that he can finally relax for a bit, but he couldn’t be more wrong. Ezio’s peace is short lived and he quickly finds himself traveling to Rome shortly after the game begins. Throughout the game this isn’t the only place that Ezio will visit. The game will take you throughout Rome, Monteriggioni, Naples, and Spain. Rome will act like a much larger version of Monteriggioni in the game, in the fact that things can be upgraded an purchased to rebuild Rome, but will also contain the bulk of the story and side missions as well.
Just as in the first Assassin’s Creed titles, you will find yourself in the shoes of Desmond Miles, who is a descendent of both the characters: Altair and Ezio. Desmond is once again with Lucy, attempting to successfully synchronize with Ezio through the Animus 2.0 to help with the fight against the Templars. There are two other characters making a return from the second title that assist both Desmond and Lucy in their attempts to fight: Shaun Hastings and Rebecca Crane. Rebecca is the one that created the Animus 2.0, and Shaun is basically the information hub of the crew.
The gameplay mechanics have not changed much since the last title. You will still find yourself climbing, jumping, and running your way through the various locales that Ezio and Desmond find themselves in. The combat seems to be a bit more smooth and allows for some fantastic counters against enemies. You will find yourself feeling like an unstoppable force utilizing Ezio’s newest unlockable weapons and armors — tie that in with the improved combat system and your enemies will be no problem for you.
This time around, controlling the horse is much better. Not only are you able to fully engage your enemies while on horseback, it can be legitimately used for travel within the city itself. Another thing that can be used for travel is the travel tunnels beneath the city itself. These fast transit systems will prevent you from having to journey across the gigantic city of Rome, and will quickly load you at an open tunnel that you have renovated with your earned money. The simplest way to earn money is, of course, to complete missions, but another easy way is to loot either enemies or treasure chests that you find along the way. Also, once properties are purchased they will earn you money as time goes on within the game.
With a name like Brotherhood, you can bet there is a team aspect involved in the game. You actually have control over the assassins that you have taken the time to recruit. It is then your job to give them tasks to complete, which will earn them experience, eventually leveling them up higher. Hopefully, if they are able to survive all of their missions, they will achieve the rank of “Assassin”.
AI is has seen a minor improvement and there’s more variety between enemies. Enemies in the game will work together to bring you down if they suspect you of something. It is up to you to fight or run. If you happen to choose to fight you run the risk of reinforcements arriving during the battle. The enemies in this title are also now better equipped. Should you happen to be traveling by rooftop and an enemy sees you, they most likely have a rifle or gun of some sort, which does a whole lot more damage than some of the enemies that carry crossbows. On foot there are different sizes of enemies as well. The heavier enemies are much larger, carry big weapons, and must be knocked back to successfully land a strike. The average enemies are a lot like ones seen in past titles. Smaller enemies are fast, yes faster than you, carry smaller weapons, and strike very quickly.
The sidequests featured within the title will keep you plenty entertained. Subject 16 makes a return in the game, and you must once again solve the puzzles at hand to discover a truth. Feathers that were featured in Assassin’s Creed II make a return — no worries though, there aren’t 100 of them this time, only 10. But there are 101 flags to track down, though.
On top of the already fantastic single player, Brotherhood marks Ubisoft’s first ever attempt at a multiplayer component for the franchise. Many were immediately worried, myself included, that this mode would be tacked on with absolutely no depth. Being the biggest selling point of the title, we’re glad to say, the multiplayer turned out to be inventive and incredibly addictive.
There are a total of 4 game modes to experience in the multiplayer. These include Wanted, Manhunt, Alliance, and Advanced Wanted. Each of these offers a different take and often requires different playing styles to be fully successful at them. Both Ranked and Private matches are available to choose for most of the game modes. So for those wanting to play with just friends and have a good time, simply choose the Private option, it will not contribute to your ranking, though.
With Wanted the premise is simple, choose a “persona”, and track down your target. The more successful you are, the more people you will have after you. A picture of your target will appear in the upper right corner of the screen, using the available compass on-screen track them down and eliminate the target. If you happen to be in first place and are on a huge killing streak you can have up to four players after you at once — which is easily one of the most intense experiences in the game. Everything done within the game contributes to the overall score attained. For those that want to blend in and silently take out their target, they will get points for that. Those that want to stick to the rooftops and launch aerial takedowns, will get points here as well. It is essentially up to you how you take down your target, try different things and see which works best for you.
Manhunt is a game mode that is not to be overlooked. For those that want to work together to take down opponents, this is your best bet. In this mode, each side will take turns in trying to take down the opposing team. Using the same tactics in the Wanted mode will lead you to success, the only difference here is you are after an entire team and not an individual. In the beginning a team leader will choose the specific “persona” they would like to use. You will either be the targets or the assassins. If you are the targets it is your job to do your best to blend in, as well as stunning your enemies when necessary, both of which will gain your team points. When a round is over, both teams will switch sides, so targets will become assassins and vice versa. While playing as an assassin, tracking down your targets is a tad more difficult: you must use your observation skills here to fully be effective. They will be hiding in groups and it is essential to observe before attempting to take out your enemy.
Within Alliance mode, players will find themselves on teams of two, with a total of 3 teams. While one team may be out to assassinate your team, you will be assigned to the 3rd team. Many times you will find yourself chasing targets down, all while being chased yourself. Definitely an exciting experience.
For the hardcore that want to truly test their Wanted mode skills, Advanced Wanted is the mode for you. This mode must be earned, though; it will unlock for those that put in the effort to reach level 12 on Wanted. This mode is essentially just an extreme version of Wanted. No longer are you told whether your target is above you or below you, and generally, it is much harder to track your target via the on-screen compass. While not huge changes, it does up the challenge and make it a lot more fun.
Initially there are a total of 10 “personas” for the player to use. The Hellequin “persona” makes 11, and can be unlocked by visiting the Uplay page from within the game itself. There are also 4 other locked “personas” that will be unlocked as you level up within the multiplayer. The selection available is actually quite diverse, and gives the players many options as to how they want to be viewed from within the game. Not only can players choose how they look, but while leveling up many aspects of the “personas” can be customized according to preference. These include the gear that you are outfitted with, as well as the colors that are used on your individual character. There are 4 total gear and color options, all of which are unlocked by leveling up.
For those that want to control all aspects of their character and their abilities will be happy with the “Profile Set” options. Initially you start out with nothing, but by completing various tasks, as well as leveling up, players will unlock different abilities, perks and streaks to be used in-game. When everything is unlocked, there are a total of 2 abilities that can be equipped, 2 perks, a kill streak, and a loss streak. All of these will contribute to making you the ultimate assassin. It’s up to you to mix and match things to your individual style.
There is one final mode, besides the single player and multiplayer, that has not been discussed, and that is the Virtual Training Program. These can be accessed from within the story in the Animus. There are four total modes within the training. These include Free Run, Stealth Assassination, Locate, and Combat. Your performance will be evaluated with a medal system according to either how fast or how much you can can get accomplished within a given time period.
Graphically, the game is impressive for a game of its size. The cities themselves actually feels as if it is a living, breathing world. You will see historic locations as you travel throughout the cities you visit. Rome in itself is the biggest city map featured in any Assassin’s Creed title to date. While visiting cities you will see people shopping, couriers making deliveries, and shady individuals that will even try to rob you. Tie that in with the fantastic views and you have yourself one beautiful environment.
There is no way not to compare this game to Assassin’s Creed II, especially considering that it is a direct sequel. With that said, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood beats its predecessor in every aspect. It has a new team management system, a beautiful environment to explore, fantastic controls that will have you running all over the city, along with an engaging storyline. Throw in one of the most unique multiplayer experiences to date, and you have yourself one of the greatest games of the year. Simply put, do yourself a favor and pick up Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Environment is huge and incredibly detailed for an open world game.
+ Multiplayer is incredibly addicting, and a great addition to the franchise.