Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Review

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood has been out for a few months now, but with the release of its newest DLC, The Da Vinci Disappearance, it's worthwhile to have another look at this game. If you are familiar with the first two installments of the Assassin's Creed games, you will find many familiar things in this game, and a lot of new material in the form of new single player features and competitive multiplayer gameplay.

So the Story Goes...
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood picks up almost right where Assassin's Creed II left off, sticking with Ezio Auditore as the main protagonist. Instead of leaping into a new era via the Animus like what happened between AC 1 & 2, we get to see more of what is going on with the Assassin's during the Renaissance Era. Ezio and the Assassins continue to struggle against the insidious Templars that manipulate and control world politics (such as they were), against a vaguely supernatural/sci-fi backdrop.

There's a lot more gameplay featuring Ezio's "controller," Desmond, this time around. It's mostly centered around advancing the story, but there is a little parkour action mixed in as well. You can easily see how future installments may make the leap to modern times with the little peeks provided by Brotherhood.

Gameplay = More of the Same...and then Some
The smooth parkour mechanics of the Assassin's Creed games is still present here, of course, with some improvements. It may take some getting used to, controlling Ezio at times, but soon enough you'll have a good grasp of things and you'll be gliding over rooftops in no time. To be fair, the game does suffer at times from bad camera angles and makes little sacrifices for the sake of fluidity.

In other words, there are times that you frankly feel like you are not in total control. You may be trying to jump to the post, wall, or window, and instead Ezio makes a flying leap out into empty air or into a river because of an imperceptible change in position of the stick. It doesn't happen all that often, but in those lamentable missions in which detection equals a failed mission it can be maddening. Most of the missions don't feature such requirements, but those that do can be frustrating regardless. Here's hoping there is less of that next time.

Thankfully, we get to branch out a bit and have some action outside of the standard gameplay in the form of Leonardo's creations. The Templars have gotten hold of Da Vinci's designs and built a flying device, a tank (yes, a tank), a naval cannon, and a machine gun. In these missions, you get a chance to play around with these weapons and cause massive destruction. You also get a parachute to play around with later on in normal gameplay and some puzzles ala AC II as well.

Assassins Creed Brotherhood

Multiplayer, or Killer Klowns from...Italy?
When it was announced that Brotherhood would have multiplayer content, most people rightfully wondered how it would be pulled off. The AC games' style certainly doesn't lend itself to team deathmatch-style gameplay, so how could it work? Thankfully, the designers have figured it out in spectacular fashion.

In the various multiplayer modes, players take control of Templars-in-training in an Animus training environment in which they must hunt down and assassinate each other or members of a rival team. You can pick from a wide array of characters (including new ones from the newest DLC), including the Harlequin and the Hellequin (the Killer Klowns, natch), various nobles and cutthroats, and many other characters from the single player game.

You are thrust into a small city environment populated by AI-controlled characters that look like you and the rest of the players. The goal depends on the mode you are playing, but the essential mechanic is figuring out who is a player and who is AI. Killing AI actually gives the matching player more points, so you have to be careful and pick your targets wisely. More complex, innovative and imaginative kills net you more points. You can easily win the match by only getting 5 varying stealth kills, versus the player that goes for quantity and gets 10+ kills by stabbing or shooting everything in sight.

In Wanted, it's a free-for-all and you are only given one target at a time. You can't kill any other players besides that target. In Manhunt, the team-based version of Wanted, you are given 5 minutes to be the killing team and 5 minutes to be on the defense. A new mode, Assassinate, is a true free-for-all in that all players can kill each other if they can find one another. Other modes include Alliance (teams of two), Chest Capture, Escort, and Advanced versions of Wanted and Alliance that simply make detection more difficult. All modes allow you to stun and use various perks and abilities to defend yourself.

The one almost unique thing you'll find in AC: Brotherhood multiplayer is that one player's style often sets the style of the entire match. In other words, if one player decides that he or she would rather not play stealthily, running around on rooftops and setting off chase sequences every which way, virtually all of the other players will inevitably be sucked into that style of gameplay most of the time. A match populated by stealthy players and a match dominated by "roofers" and runners have two completely different feels.

Assassins Creed Brotherhood

Innovative MP That Defies Convention = Win
The multiplayer is not for everyone, to be sure, but as someone that doesn't get into your average multiplayer shooter I found that I spent many, many more hours on Brotherhood's MP modes than I ever have on any other multiplayer game. If you are a fan of stealth-based games, you now have the chance to try your skill versus other players. It's not without it's flaws (lag, often slow matchmaking), but I think this multiplayer is paving the way for some very interesting things down the road. Those developers that feel like they have to tack on MP to every game could take some notes from Brotherhood.

Brotherhood's single player, on the other hand, is more of the same but fans of the previous two installments will enjoy the continuing story and improved mechanics.

All in all, I have to give AC: Brotherhood a nearly perfect score. Its minor flaws are so small as to be imperceptible on most score charts - I would give it a 99 out of 100 if I could.

Article by - Brett Huffman

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