Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – Better Late Than Never

As much as I enjoy the Assassin’s Creed series, Brotherhood was not a game I had high hopes for. In fact, leading up to its release, I had only watched the first couple trailers before writing it off almost entirely. Why would I do such a thing? With games like Call of Duty, Need for Speed, Guitar Hero, and the annual sports titles dropping like clock work every single year without fail (now, with the exception of Guitar Hero), I assumed Assassin’s Creed was the latest franchise to receive the mandatory sequel treatment. I was expecting the worst – a rushed, watered down sequel that paled in comparison to its predecessor, of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is a fully realized sequel, even more so than Assassin’s Creed II which laid the ground work.

Looking Back

The original Assassin’s Creed almost looks like a tech demo in comparison to the games that followed. The gameplay and fighting mechanic were fully fleshed out, but it lacked any real depth in the story and mission structure. ACII corrected every flaw AC possessed, and built on the solid foundation. AC:B takes all that ACII had to offer, and expands it in every possible direction, making it the most enjoyable and satisfying of the three.

Oh hai, Ezio!

It’s almost silly that the title isn’t Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood, as it picks up right where ACII left off, continuing the story of Ezio. At the end of ACII, Ezio and his band of friends and family are victorious in securing the Apple of Eden and defeating the Templar threat. While you get to reep the benefits of being a hero of sorts for the first part of the game, certain events unfold that leave Ezio with nothing but the clothes on his back, and the dagger attached to his wrist. As you might expect, he has to work his way back to the top, but this time he doesn’t have to do it alone.

The Great City of Rome

Swan Dive!

For the first time in ther series, AC:B takes place entirely in one city – Rome. There are no sprawling valleys to traverse between cities, but there is stil a fair bit of travelling. Thankfully, you can purchase tunnels which allow for fast travel. The city is oppressed by the Borgia family, who run a military style dictatorship. Through-out the city are Borgia outposts in the form of towers. It’s up to Ezio to destroy the towers and liberate Rome.

AC2 introduced the Villa – your fortified home where you could upgrade the few shops that fell inside its walls. AC:B takes a different approach, in that as you liberate regions of Rome, shops must be purchased before they are of use. For each shop you renovate, Rome’s economy strengthens. And for every 20 minutes of in-game time, your cut is deposited into the local banks. The more shops you open, the greater your income. Of course, you also earn money by completing missions, stoping Borgia carriers, looting fallen soldiers, and finding treasures.

So. Much. To. Do.

There are a huge number of side-quests in AC:B, of varying sizes. As commrades are gained, new sets of missions are unlocked. Thieves, mercenaries, and courtesans are the types Ezio works with for the most part. Then there is the Brotherhood. This doesn’t factor in until about half way through the main story, when a revolution is started and Ezio begins recruited people off the street to become assassins. Once an assassins has joined the brotherhood, assassination contracts open up. These are missions you can send your assassin’s on to earn them experience, which will lead to them becoming a full-fledged assassin. When your assassins are not off doing your bidding, they can be summoned at any point while in free roam or during missions. Depending on the situation, they will climb, leap, jump, fall, or ride into action, neutrilizing the threat that you have indicated within seconds. You can also call assassins into a battle, if you find yourself out-numbered. They’ll often ride in on horses, leaping off and deploying smoke grenades that allow you to quickly deal with your foes.

Desmond, I No Longer Loathe Thee

Thankfully, you spend very little time as Desmond in 2012 this time around. And the beginning sequence isn’t anywhere near as painful as ACII. Of the sequences you play as Desmond, 2 of them are quite lengthy, and involve the same sort of scaling and acrobatics that you’re used to doing with Ezio, but in a more Tomb Raider kind of way. The game ends in 2012, and with one hell of a cliff hanger! Thankfully, we don’t have too long to wait to see what happens next, as the next Assassin’s Creed game was just announced to be hitting retail this fall.

Oh, And You Can Play Online

One of the big features of AC:B, and one of the main reasons I balked at it, is the competitive multiplayer mode. I spend very little time playing online and much prefer a massive single player experience over a short solo campaign with deep multiplayer. I assumed the single player end of AC:B would suffer as multiplayer was introduced to the series, but clearly I was wrong. In fact, I still haven’t even ventured online. The solo campaign has definitely been enough for me. That’s not say that I won’t ever play online, I just haven’t yet, and am in no rush to.

Next!

If this year’s Assassin’s Creed game is even remotely comparable to AC:B, we’re in for a treat. I for one, cannot wait!

Rating: 4.5/5

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

11 Responses to “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – Better Late Than Never”

  1. Matt,

    Thanks so much for doing the review, I was also in two minds about picking this up after watching the trailers. You've put my mind to rest and I'll be picking it up this weekend. Can't wait.

    Gavin

    • That's the main reason I did review this game after all. I personally know a few people in the same mindset as myself, and figured there must be more out there. It would be a shame for such a great game to pass people by, so here's hoping I've convinced some of those fence sitters to take the plunge.

  2. What I really love about the game is the incredible atmosphere, I could happily run over the Rome rooftops causing mayhem for hours on end. Haven't made it to the end of the singleplayer yet, but I'm curious to see where they take it next. Probably will be getting DeadSpace2 next.

    • Normally, I blow through the story first, then go back for side-quests. But that wasn't really possible with AC:B. Mostly because of the way regions are blocked and later exposed as you complete the main sequences. As such, I sunk over 20 hours into this game by the time I completed the story, and have since invested at least another 10 finishing up side-quests and gathering collectibles.

  3. I was pretty late picking this one up as well. Such a great game. According to my last save game, I've invested about 37 hours so far. The majority of that has been doing side quests and grabbing flags and treasure chests. I enjoyed the story so much that I might even hold onto this one and not trade it in so that I can play through the story again.

    • I must be around the same, as I was over 20 hours on the main sequences alone. I've got all the quests, feathers, and flags that are on the main map (still 11 to go, though). I've barely done any of the guild quests though, so still plenty more hours to sink in if I'm up to it. Meanwhile, I've ventured online and am really having a lot of fun with the Wanted game mode.

  4. Nice review, dude. Gave you same link love over on Bits. http://bit.ly/eB5p5G

    I loved this game as well. Glad you finally got around to playing it and writing about it. I actually hope to play a lot more Desmond in the future. The past/present swapping is one of the most compelling aspects of the storyline, IMO.

    @Erwin Nearly done with Dead Space 2. Amazing game! Buy it.

    @Jeff I think I logged ~ 60 hours or so. Crazy.

    • Thanks for the link love, Matthew! The d-pad pagination is fantastic, BTW.

      Over the weekend I spent some time playing Wanted online. And I must say, I was pleasantly surprised! The main reason I find it so enjoyable, is that there is no voice chat, or need for voice chat at all. Second, there really isn't a way for people to be cheap or unsporting. It's all about deception and catching your target off guard, and it truly is a blast!

      What problems have you had with matchmaking? I noticed that I was being lumped in with dudes level 30-40 and above while I'm only now at level 4. Not exactly a level playing field, but I was still taking those players down, so I didn't really mind.

      Honestly, I was never a huge fan of the present/future end of the AC storyline. I think mostly because it seemed to bring the game's momentum to a screeching halt. But as I mentioned in my review, the Desmond sequences were actually quite enjoyable this time around and Ubisoft seemed to have learned from their mistakes.

      • Haha. Thanks. I'm glad you like the d-pad. 😉

        Matchmaking issues were prolific for me. Each time I tried to play, I'd spend the first 10-30 minutes sitting at different loading screens trying to find suitable players. Once you got in with a group, things went pretty smoothly until someone decided to drop out. Then you had to wait all over again. And that wasn't the worst of it.

        When playing with friends in your group, you would randomly get separated from them – after one of those insanely long waits, of course. When the city screen finally came up, I got in the habit of double-checking with others, "are you in Rome?" Half the time they'd say, "fuck, I'm in Venice!" Additionally, I got booted from games on several occasions and was unable to rejoin.

        I absolutely love Manhunt! I enjoyed the actual matches so much that I kept coming back and putting myself through the torture; finally giving up about 3 weeks ago. It is quite possible that they've fixed some of the issues since I last played. The gap in levels may actually be a sign that they loosened the matchmaking logic. If you're not experiencing any of the issues above, maybe you can goad me in to giving it another chance. Maybe. Seriously though, as wonderful as it is, there is nothing about the AC Brotherhood multiplayer experience that necessitated Ubisoft running their own servers.

  5. I have to admit that I've still not even got this game yet. There's been so many occasions where I've looked at it in terms of game play, graphics and general usability and thought that it looked world class, however I've never actually got round to buying it. The trailer itself really does present it in an incredible light.

    It's nice to find a blog where reviews are forthcoming and a lot of good feedback is given as to how to play the games, whether they are worth the time of day and some tips as to how to go about completing certain levels.

    Is the game sort of like Fable III in that it's a role-play game with various outcomes? If so, this will certainly be next on my purchase list.

    • No, the story isn't as dynamic as Fable III. But the difficulty depends on how much time you spend improving your character and the guilds that you're associated with. You won't have any help in the field if you don't first grow those relationships. Assassins are especially helpful, as you can call them in at any moment. It got to the point where I would complete 15-20 minute missions without killing a single person. I had my assassins doing the dirty work for me.