For those of you like me who were under the impression that Assassin’s Creed was due to be a trilogy, this whole Brotherhood title had me a little stumped. This could be Ubisoft’s first mistake with their new flagship franchise, so does Brotherhood warrant a full retail disc? Or are we getting what could have been DLC?
Brotherhood is a continuation from last year’s Assassin’s Creed 2 which continues the journey of Desmond replaying memory sequences of the Renaissance assassin Ezio Auditore through the power of The Anamus. Although the bulk of your time will be spent running through Rome with Ezio getting up to his usual tricks, this time more focus and story has been dedicated the true protagonist, Desmond. This is a great choice as the world of Ezio is so rich and wonderful that it is easy to lose sight of the true threat facing the modern day assassins.
The whole gang are still at large and on the run from the Abstergo Corporation and things are as tense as ever. Actually it is worth noting that only a mere 2 weeks have passed since Desmond was originally captured and forced to live out Altair’s memories. Taking up their expected roles, see Lucy who’s still obviously falling for Nathan… I mean Desmond (sorry Nolan but you weren’t really pushed to play it any differently). Oh and the other two are still around, Rebecca the ‘sassy’ tech head and Shaun the cynical, but now funnier and more likeable British research guy.
Once your jacked into The Anamus, there is little reason to leave even though the option is there for those who want to delve deeper into the rich back story by checking emails or talking to the team. So the real meat of Brotherhood is told through the day to day life of Ezio. If you’re a fan of the series then there is no reason why you won’t fall back in love with the tried and tested gameplay mechanics we’ve come to expect from Assassin’s Creed. What I found is that everything has been ever so slightly tweaked, where in the past I felt forced by design to approach platforming at 90° angles. Now though I feel confident in my ability to take a slightly less digital approach to my parkour. Another noticeable alteration has been to the counter-attack system, not only has the window of opportunity been slightly increased but after a successful kill Ezio is able to chain together one hit kills making short work of any situation.
Other than improvements, Ubisoft have given us some new gameplay features to play with including a satisfying assassins’ guild. As Ezio frees Rome from the grip of the evil and sinister Cesare Borgia by removing occupation from regions of the city, grateful citizens will pledge allegiance and do your bidding. Using carrier pigeons Ezio can send trainee assassins around Europe on missions, each time bringing back additional money and improving their skills. The player has no direct involvement in these missions, there is a big brother feel to watching them grow into trained killers. When not out on assignment your dedicated back up team are only a whistle away to leaping from the shadows to assist, either to take out a key target or alter the odds in a tight battle.
As expected Brotherhood is a completionist’s wet dream / nightmare (delete as applicable), on top of the 9 story driven memory sequences Ezio can undertake a whole host of additional challenges. From building up his assassins’ guild as mentioned above to destroying Leonardo da Vinci’s military weapons and renovating Rome’s stores and landmarks. The map is littered with available waypoints that it can be difficult to focus on the story line itself, just remember it is all optional and can be completed after the final credits.
As with all Assassin’s Creed games so far, the world looks wonderful and the character animations and transitions are stunning, but this time around the music stole the show. Even though the voice acting is top notch (more so in Ezio’s time, than in Desmond’s) but this is the first of the series which has made me stop and just listen to the ambience around me. It doesn’t stop there, the orchestra swells just at the right time in tense situations allowing the player to fall even deeper in love with the time period.
Ok, so thats the Assassin’s Creed we all know and love. But hang on a minute, for the first time we’ve got a new ‘Multiplayer’ option on the main menu. I’ve been keen to see how multiplayer would work in the Assassin’s Creed world. Part of me was disappointed that it wasn’t a free roaming co-op experience, but it turns out Ubisoft really put some thought into the competitive side of things, which makes a lot of sense considering the game is full of fantastically brutal assassinations. So imagine if you will a small, very dense map, you’re playing as one of several character skins and you have a target to take down and a clue to their location. However, at the same time you’re also being hunted by another player. It is all about trying to blend into the crowd and picking your moments to strike. This mode really makes you feel like an assassin! I’ve been known to spend the best part of an entire match waiting for that one perfect kill which yields more points than several sloppy ones.
Although the lobby system is a little clunky and matchmaking can be slow, this is forgiven by the depth of play. As is becoming standard with multiplayer modes now, there are levels to gain with perks, abilities and custom classes to unlock along with a handful of different game types.
Even without the inclusion of multiplayer, I would have been more than happy with the amount of quality content delivered in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. However as it stands, this is a stunning title which deserves to be played. Judging by the incremental improvements across the series, I think the best is still to come from Ubisoft!
MLG Rating: 9/10
Platform: Xbox 360 / Playstation 3 Release Date: 19/11/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of 14 days on an Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.