Stepping back into the Animus, Assassin's Creed time-bending tale continues with another entry in the Ezio Auditore saga in the aptly titled Brotherhood.
'Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood' surprisingly does a great job introducing new players to the unique world Ubisoft has crafted over the three titles. Strange as it is, you could jump into Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood without playing the early two entries. Although coming playing the first two "Assassin's" is highly recommended, if nothing else, 'Assassin's Creed 2.' Brotherhood picks up right at the ending of 'AC2' and leads you into the new adventure that follows the formula laid out by the first two games. You will take on the task of fighting the Templar forces in order to foil their plot in this time bending paradox. If your mind isn't mush from the "Matrix" flavoured mix-up, Assassin's has one of the deepest, progressing storyline arches since 'Mass Effect,' which is outstanding for an action game.
A puzzle uncompleted
Since this is my third Assassin game I have reviewed, I found it odd, how frustrating the controls seemed since I never "really" had that feeling in the other two games. In all honestly, Brotherhood seems to show off the limitations of the scaling mechanism in Assassin's. It could be that initial "buzz" off Assassin's has worn off, or it could truly be a system that needs upgrading, or maybe the problem lies in the redesigned architecture rather than the actual controls. Nevertheless, Brotherhood doesn't flow as flawlessly as the first two games.
Continuing with my new found frustration with Brotherhood comes a slight feeling of we've been here before. True, we are continuing the infectious Ezio Auditore, but lost is that feeling of wonder that existed when I stepped into the shoes of a new character. Even Ezio who I didn't care for over Altair, had some initial charm and wonder. Who was this guy and how will his story unfold? were two questions that had me locked into the games narrative. Now that we know Ezio, recycling the same timeline and character hurts the mystique of the tale. It's not that I dislike the resonance Italy or Ezio, I'm just hungry for more of the fog of mystery that surrounded the first two titles.
More than an Upgrade
Barking aside, 'Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood' is a full fledged game and not a 1.5 upgrade like many gamers speculated before its release. This game is huge and even though it only involves one city, it feels like it dwarfs the other games. Ubisoft has done a great job including enough activities, side-missions, and missions to keep you busy for a while, and like you have probably heard, Assassin's now includes a multiplayer mode that is surprisingly fun. Set up as a training exercise you'll will try an assassinate your fellow gamers in several maps taken from the series. Hunting down targets without being detected is very suspenseful especially because you are both the hunted and the hunter. The multiplayer is deeper then expect with a levelling system that cashes out rewards for you to enhance your player. While this cat-and-mouse styled multiplayer isn't going to appeal to everyone, those who get into the assassin groove will love Ubisoft's gamble.
More Ezio less Desmond
For the story Ubisoft concentrates more on the action inside the Animus with Desmond only contributing in two minor spots. At anytime you can exit the animus and explore the “real world,” but all the action is in the animus. Rewinding to 1499 you will continue right after the events in AC2. In Monteriggioni you will meet a new Templar villain, Cesare Borgia (the son of Rodrigo Borgia) who will cause the Ezio and his clan to set up shop in Rome. From there Ezio has to reclaim the 'Apple of Eden' you spent so much time procuring in AC2. Fighting against the Brogia family Ezio establishes a new brotherhood to reclaim the city for the people and the Assassin clan.
Along with the normal plot-line, Assassin's is filled with optional quests to accomplish, including the "Brotherhood" concept which I will get to a little later. New inclusions include burning "Borgia Towers," new treasures to search out and a twist on 'Leonardo da Vinci' inventions where Ezio will have to destroy several ancient takes on modern war vehicles, like the cannon-equipped boat pictured below. Subject 16's hidden spots are also included in Brotherhood to help you pull the covers slightly back on Ubisoft cryptic story. All-in-all, Brotherhood is loaded and can still be enjoyed even after you beat the game, not only in the multiplayer mode, but searching out things you have missed to complete that trophy/achievement list.