REVIEW: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 2:26PM
Ernie in assassins creed brotherhood, reviews, ubisoft

Written by contributing author John Rios

Three main games in three years time have caused some to be wary of assassin overload, that maybe such a release schedule would prematurely wear out an assassin's welcome. Though continuing on its course, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood finally brings the trilogy’s grand adventure to an end. As a direct sequel to Assassin’s Creed 2, Brotherhood attempts to send Desmond and his ancestors off in style. Does it live up to the hype and expectations, or does the leap of faith miss its mark?

You continue where you left Ezio Auditore da Firenze in Assassin’s Creed 2. Not much has changed since then. Ezio contently oversees the daily activities of his people, until suddenly, all hell breaks loose. The power-hungry Borgia have invaded your hometown and have taken the Apple of Eden, an artifact of great power. As Ezio, you must travel to Rome, to stop the Borgia, defend your land, and retrieve the Apple.

Assassin’s Creed has always been an adventure wrapped in stealth, and Brotherhood enhances the foundation laid down in the series’ first two entries. Combat is much improved, and feels smoother overall. Some new gadgets are added to the arsenal to round out the experience, and the assassinating. These new toys can be used both in and out of battle, to assure that you’ll have something new to play with no matter the scenario. Of note is the ability to combine weapons during battle, making it entirely possible to slash one enemy’s stomach, then turn around and put a crossbow bolt between another’s eyes. It really helps the fluidity and awe-factor of the action.

Another of Brotherhood’s welcome additions is the Borgia Tower challenges. The player must overtake an area controlled by a high ranking soldier and his small army of minions. Once you destroy a Borgia Tower, the Borgia’s influence in that area decreases, allowing citizens the freedom to open shops, and in turn, giving Ezio business investment opportunities. The virtual trainer also is a positive addition to help sharpen your skills and train you to be the world’s greatest assassin. These modes allow for certain unique rewards that shouldn't be missed.

Creating a brotherhood of assassins is a crucial aspect of gameplay, as you should already know if only by the game’s title. You recruit those skilled and brave enough to stand up to the Borgia, and dispatch them throughout Europe to execute various missions. As they venture out more, they gain levels and experience, making them stronger and more useful when the time comes to call on them for an assist in battle.

Much like the assassin’s tombs in Assassin’s Creed 2, Brotherhood implements Lairs of Romulus for Ezio to explore between proper missions. Completing each of the lairs is not too difficult, and doing so will net you an awesome suit of armor, though for full synchronization, the trick is beating the lairs under the allotted time. All the game’s missions are fully replayable, allowing a measure of ease for achievement whores to get full synchronization, and be at peace with their 100 percent completion.

Brotherhood’s multiplayer is surprisingly fun, and rewarding. The first attempt to take the single player experience and infuse the idea of an online Brotherhood is executed nicely. There are four multiplayer modes; Wanted, Manhunt, Alliance, and Advanced Wanted. Wanted is an 8 player free-for-all with an intense hunter vs. prey flair. Paranoia plays a key role. Manhunt sets two teams of four against each other to see which team is the smartest and most skilled. Alliance pits three teams of two against each other, emphasizing close team play and communication. And finally Advanced Wanted, as you can imagine, is a more complex variation of Wanted, which ups the difficulty by offering less information on your target, for instance not differentiating on the mini-map whether your mark is above or below you. All in all, Brotherhood’s multiplayer experience is fresh and enjoyable. There’s something so satisfying about sitting on a bench, patiently spotting your mark and waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike, then disappearing into the sea of people once the deed is done, knowing that the contract is now on your head.

Art Design
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is nothing less than a beautiful game. Most of the story takes place in Rome, where the city’s gorgeous details are masterfully illustrated. The architecture is truly a sight to behold, landmarks and all, rendered convincingly and making the player feel as if he or she is truly a denizen of Rome. Character animations are subtle and lifelike, and the models themselves carry a sort of heft to them, as opposed to the feathery, ragdoll models we’re so used to seeing.

Graphical hiccups occur every now and then, though I’ve yet to experience one that kills the immersion and experience. Trivial NPCs may disappear for no reason, and I’ve even seen some with the uncanny ability to walk through walls. Who knew certain members of the X-men were alive and well in ancient Rome?

Sound Design
If you played the game with no video, and just judged by the sound, you would think you’re playing Assassin’s Creed 2. The sound team obviously loved the music and effects from the last game, and saw it fit to make minimal additions. It’s unfortunate the sound couldn’t see the same tweaks and loving work the graphics and story received. The music is serviceable, nothing more, or less, and adheres to the motif of the series.

The returning Assassin’s Creed voice talent does a good job, nothing spectacular, though they’re not quite phoning it in either. Kristen Bell and everyman voice actor Nolan North reprise their respective roles as Lucy Stillman and Desmond Miles, the 2012 Abstergo escapees. This keeps the trilogy’s cohesion intact, and fans since the first Assassin’s Creed happy with the continuation.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is a downright enjoyable experience. It has all the main components of an excellent sequel, but falls just short of greatness. As direct sequels tend to go, there is not much by way of back story, which can deter series new jacks from jumping in and fully comprehending the tale. Unfortunately, to get the most out of the final installment in the enthralling trilogy, you need to have played its two predecessors.

Buy it if: You played the first two Assassin's Creed titles and want closure
Don't buy it if: You've never played an Assassin's Creed game, or don't plan on spending much time on the campaign
The Score: 8 out 10 blasters!

John is a technogeek with a gangsta edge. If it's new and cutting edge he probably already owns it; phones, computers, games, you name it. He is a school teacher by day, but a gamer for life.

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