Assassin's Creed Brotherhood Review
|Genre:||Open World Action|
|Release Date:||November 19th, 2010 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
Ezio Auditore da Firenze oozes cool. The Italian nobleman is a hit with the ladies, looks good in a cloak, moves in the right social circles - and also commands an army of assassins. See? Cool.
So for Ubisoft to bring the venerable assassin back for another outing is no surprise, and happily Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood isn't the glorified add-on pack many have dismissed it as, but a fully fleshed out game - with some brilliant new additions.
First up, the singleplayer campaign. Picking up once again the strange, parallel storyline of the series, AC:B sees Ezio (in the year 1500) returning home from his final battle in Rome - with the Pope no less.
The weary warrior settles down, his battle done - until a huge Templar (evildoers bent on controlling the world) army lays siege to his hometown, destroys his villa and all his equipment, and generally gives him a hard time. This forces the assassin to head to holy Roma, to take on a new enemy and rebuild the assassin's guild - and stab hundreds and hundreds of bad guys along the way.
At the same time the modern day tale of Desmond Miles - Ezio's bloodline descendant and trainee assassin - carries on apace, as the team flee the modern day Templars and attempt to unlock the secrets of ancient artefacts by reliving Ezio's experiences.
The odd storyline still captivates in the modern day, but once again the onus of the action is firmly in Ezio's era - and rightly so. The world of Rome is about three times the size of Assassin's Creed 2's Florence, and is a very diverse city, with areas ranging from citadels to dirty, crowded slums and some familiar landmarks.
Into this diverse city comes Ezio, who has to wrest control of the city from the clutches of Cesare Borgia (the former Pope's son) and his gangs of minions. To do this, the gamer has to bring down the various, imperious towers the Borgia have constructed high above the city's streets, assassinate key figures, buy and upgrade stores, monuments and regions and gather trainee assassins.
The campaign itself is a blast. While the missions will seem familiar to fans of Assassin's Creed 2, the game offers up a wide variety of missions to take on, as well as a number of side jobs, errands and assassination contracts to keep you busy.
There are also a series of side missions that see you destroying seminal genius's Leonardo Da-Vinci's war machines and their blueprints, but these don't add a huge amount to the experience.
There's also a surprisingly in-depth upgrade system for your new assassins, allowing Ezio, as grand-master of the Brotherhood, to send assassins off on missions, edit their loadouts and clothes and level them up.
The Brotherhood aren't only restricted to this minigame however, and Ezio's loyal team can be called into action with the wave of a hand, assassinating targets and vanishing back into the shadows. This changes the game's lone-wolf dynamic somewhat, allowing Ezio to close with his targets easier.
It also makes the game much easier, so it's up to each individual gamer to decide whether to use the Brotherhood or not. Overall the singleplayer, while as brilliant and immersive as ever, doesn't really bring anything new to the formula.
Fans of the series are sure to enjoy returning to Ezio and Desmond's respective worlds, but a few new toys (including a nifty crossbow) do not a new game make. Luckily, the game's biggest innovation is also its best - competitive multiplayer.
Interestingly, the multiplayer is played through the eyes of the bad guys - the modern day Templars of Abstergo Industries. Like Desmond, these agents are training to become assassins by using the DNA memories of ancient Templars to learn their skills - and are getting plenty of practice killing each other along the way.
The multiplayer is simply brilliant. There are three modes: Wanted, which is every man for himself, team-based Manhunt and Alliance, which gives you a team-mate to work with. The basic premise is to hunt your assigned target, while evading up to four other Templars assigned to hunt you.
Taking place in a variety of differing arenas, the multiplayer plays like a tense game of cat and mouse, as the Templars attempt to stalk and kill their target, and hide from their pursuers.
To do this, the game gives you all of the ancient assassins' abilities and some interesting perks, and sets you loose to slaughter to your heart's content. However, unlike most modern multiplayer games, Brotherhood challenges gamers with being the best assassin possible - put simply, sneaking up, killing your target without them detecting you and vanishing once again will net you a glut of points, but running up to them, being forced to chase them along the rooftops and finally gunning them down gives you very little.
This forces the player to become patient and learn how to blend in with the city around him or her, and time your attack perfectly - it's a thrilling experience. It is, however, not without a few minor faults.
While escaping from your pursuer is as simple as breaking line of sight and vanishing into the crowd, there is a 'stun' move - provided the game lets you use it, which is often doesn't.
It also can take an age to find other online gamers and get them into a lobby, which is irritating when the matches are only five to ten minutes long. Thankfully, once you find a game, the action is intense and addictive, and as levelling up unlocks further perks and clothing styles for your favourite Templar agent, you'll soon find yourself being drawn into the world of Brotherhood all over again.
Graphically the game is as well rendered as Assassin's Creed 2, and interacting with the crowd is still as much fun as it was before. While there are a few minor graphical bugs the draw distance is excellent, and viewing Rome from the top of a cathedral spire is still awe-inspiring.
The sound is also excellent, with the voice actors for Ezio and Desmond pulling off their roles with great aplomb - although Danny Wallace still sounds a little out of place.
So, while Brotherhood's single player campaign offers another brilliant chunk of Assassin's Creed action, it doesn't break the mould, and could seem a little too familiar to fans of the series. That said, the brilliant, addictive multiplayer is a riot, and following the story of Ezio's rise to grand-mastery is sure to absorb you for hours.
- Great multiplayer
- Consistently brilliant single player campaign
- Addictive and thrilling combat
Not so good stuff
- Nothing new in the single player campaign
- Repetitive at points
- Slow online matchmaking
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