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Cian Hassett
22 Nov, 2010

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Review

360 Review | The sharpest blade.
This is it folks, one last shot at salvaging a largely disappointing holiday season in the video game industry. Glimpses of brilliance have been overshadowed by big budget flops, job losses and graves of former studios. When the news surfaced about Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood being released twelve months after Assassin's Creed II, most of us approached it with caution. Opinions on the franchise are divided across the world. Let's not fool ourselves here, the first Assassin's Creed game was killed by the hype machine. The idea was admirable, although the gameplay was pretty terrible in places. 2009's sequel changed the formula and thankfully it worked wonders. So what exactly does Brotherhood offer to the fans? Simply put, it offers one of the best sandbox games of the generation.

That's a big call when you you consider what other developers have released, namely Rockstar. Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption are among the best games that money can buy. They're flawed, but their scale and ambition is something that few video games ever come close to matching. The repetitive nature of Assassin's Creed didn't fill anyone with hope, but Ubisoft has taken constructive criticism on board and evolved the structure into something comparable with the aforementioned classics. With each passing installment we're finally able to understand exactly why Ubisoft invested so heavily in this new IP. Without trying to diminish the quality of any other sandbox game, the sheer potential of Assassin's Creed is a mind blowing thought. The possibilities are endless, but for now, let's step back into the shoes of Ezio Auditore da Firenze.

All kinds of awesome.

All kinds of awesome.
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Brotherhood begins immediately after the events at the end of Assassin's Creed II. It's highly recommended that you play through Ezio's first journey, otherwise the terminology and history will alienate you. At this stage you should be aware of the general set-up; you're actually playing as Desmond, a descendant of Ezio. The year is 2012 and through the wonders of technology, a machine called the 'Animus' allows you to access his memories. The game shifts back and forth between the Renaissance period and your current state, but you'll be spending the bulk of your time in ancient Rome. It's easy to get distracted by the so-called gimmicks of free-running and climbing, but this latest installment is proving that the world of Assassin's Creed is driven on by a complex and engaging story. Relationships between the main cast of characters are strong, the back-story is absolutely fascinating, the writing is intelligent and Brotherhood will make you laugh out loud with references to other video games. Ubisoft's money has been well spent with great voice acting and realistic animation, so don't be worried about the single player campaign of Brotherhood, it's superb from start to finish.

Not much has changed in terms of structure. The game is set out in exactly the same way as before, but this time you're given the biggest city of them all to explore. Rome is your new playground, and it's gigantic. Unlike the first two games, you won't be hopping back and forth between different locations so frequently. You will travel outside of Rome, not just in Desmond's era but also to carry out some important missions. The big improvement here is with gameplay, it's extremely varied and you're free to carry out tasks with action or stealth. Occasionally there will be a constraint restricting you to follow the stealthy route, but you're generally let loose to tackle objectives as you see fit. Splinter Cell: Conviction tried something similar earlier in the year, but didn't fully succeed. In Brotherhood, the missions are fresh and expertly paced, not to mention that overall it's a much more 'epic' experience. Yes that word has become almost meaningless these days, but the cinematic qualities of Brotherhood shine through more so than either of its predecessors.

Ezio's latest dance routine.

Ezio's latest dance routine.
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Rome is a gorgeous place to wander around, although impressive graphics are a trait that we've become accustomed to with these games. The draw distance is astonishing and the level of detail within the city is unparalleled. Rome is organic and realistic, the lighting is crisp and city streets are bustling with activity. The world is believable no matter which way you look, and the attention to detail across the board is remarkable. Since you'll be dealing mostly with one big location, Brotherhood does a good job in relation to making districts feel unique. There will be a slight change in hue when you enter different areas, but there's also plenty of recognisable features scattered throughout. The Colosseum is the most obvious of these, but you'll also stumble across aqueducts and the Pantheon. The Pantheon in particular is an ideal example which demonstrates the scale of Brotherhood. One assassination asks you to reach the roof, from here you'll need to climb down the curved ceiling and pounce on your unsuspecting victim. All of these instances run smoothly and the frame rate never drops. It really is a stunning game to look at, and sometimes you'll be amazed that a console is producing so much power.

Even though the core of Assassin's Creed II is still in place, there are various new additions which make Brotherhood an even deeper and more rewarding game. As the title suggests, you're going to be training assassins out of regular citizens from the gutters of Rome. Ezio is trying to rebuild Rome and gather a legion of loyal followers, a new feature that has been integrated very well. Viewpoints are synonymous with the franchise, except this time you'll discover certain areas that are occupied by the enemy. This activates a mini-mission where you need to assassinate the leader, burn a tower and free the people. From here on in you can reclaim towers and recruit more assassin's who can help you out in challenging areas. But there's more to it than just walking around with groupies. Ezio can send his recruits all across Europe to complete missions and gain experience, becoming more beneficial to the cause as they improve their skills. It might sound cumbersome and overwhelming, but every new feature is streamlined with precision so it's always easy to manage everything.

One of da Vinci's greatest toys.

One of da Vinci's greatest toys.
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A terrific score by Jesper Kyd (best known for his work on Hitman) adds an almost haunting atmospheric touch in places. It's usually a joy to hear when different pieces kick in, giving the game a near-magical feeling. However, music doesn't equal greatness. That's left to the content inside Rome. Brotherhood is enormous with a single player campaign lasting around fifteen to twenty hours. Hardcore fans will be sinking a lot more time in, because that's only skimming over the surface. Rome has its own economy, meaning that you can buy and renovate different buildings. There's a huge amount of side-missions and quests to complete, some of them courtesy of an old friend - Leonardo da Vinci. Collectibles are littered all over the place (those wretched flags are back), along with plenty of hidden messages from 'Subject 16' - think of him as the 'Riddler' from Arkham Asylum. Underground vaults are another pleasant distraction, showcasing the platforming side of Ezio. Once again, the controls are unchanged so if you've played either of the previous games, Brotherhood's layout will be instantly accessible. Thanks to the clever use of the right trigger, movement flows naturally and climbing the tallest of towers never goes pear shaped because of a poor control scheme. Certain gamers out there might criticise the simplicity of it all, but anything too complicated would have detracted from the enjoyment of exploration and combat. Speaking of which, Ezio now has several new finishing moves with his gun - all of them brutal, all of them extremely cool.

As brilliant as the single player campaign is, that's not the reason why Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is the highlight of the series so far. Without question, the biggest addition is a fully fledged multiplayer component. You're actually playing as the enemy, and multiplayer serves as their training tool. The basic idea is to hunt down and kill assigned players, while watching your back at the same time. Extra points are rewarded for techniques used throughout the match; these range from luring your pursuer into killing the wrong person, or eliminating your foe without being detected. Running around and climbing onto walls makes you easy to spot, so you'll need to blend in with the crowd or find an effective hiding spot. Multiplayer is mainly comprised of 'Wanted' and 'Alliance', the latter of which pairs you with someone else so that you can simultaneously kill the other teams. Free for all is definitely the most enjoyable of the two, and it's a prime example of how to create an inventive and original multiplayer experience.

Note to men - don't dump your girlfriend via text.

Note to men - don't dump your girlfriend via text.
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Everyone had their reasons to doubt Ubisoft's multiplayer intentions, understandably so. Thankfully, we've been treated to what could be considered the most refreshing competitive gameplay since Left 4 Dead's 'Versus Mode'. Unless you go back and play the dormant Splinter Cell: Double Agent, there's no other genuine stealth multiplayer game. There's nothing else quite like it, and the enjoyment stems mostly from the thrilling encounters that happen in every single lobby. Whereas most FPS offerings demand deep knowledge of individual maps to get maximum satisfaction, that's not entirely necessary here. While it does help, most players will already feel confident in familiar locations like Venice. Lag is non-existent and as you continue to gain experience points and rank up, more new features become available. These are essentially perks and death streaks, but it's not like they've just been thrown in for the sake of it. Matches are very well balanced and bonuses aren't over-powered, so if you're not completely rubbish at stealth games, you'll always have a decent chance. There's an unexpected level of depth here and we simply don't have enough room to explain everything to you. Assuming the community catches on to the multiplayer side of things, you can comfortably increase the longevity of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.

If you loved Ezio's previous journey, you're going to love this adventure even more. All of the restructuring from Assassin's Creed II has been refined, and a slew of new ideas have been thrown into the mix. It's surprising given the length of time between releases, but the game has been crafted with care, determination and focus. Blending action and stealth is never easy, although now we've finally been able to witness the real potential of this greatly improved franchise. As a complete package, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood goes above and beyond almost every other sandbox game out there. Don't let your initial impressions fool you, Assassin's Creed is quickly becoming one the most consistent and breathtaking experiences in video games.
The Score
Nobody could have predicted this. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is fan service of the highest order, all the while breaking new ground with a terrific multiplayer experience. 9
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Content

24 Comments
3 years ago
Maybe I should try AC1 again, the repetitive nature of the game really got to me but maybe I should give it another try and see if I can get into the series.
3 years ago
Just skip AC 1 and go straight to 2. Altair's story really doesn't effect that much you really only need to catch up on what happens to Desmond in the game to keep up with AC 2.
3 years ago
The thing with AC2 for me was that it started off really awesome but then slowly got worse and worse as I got further into it. One of the main disappointments was that it got too easy and became extremely repetitive. I think I will still need to wait for a price drop on this one as I feel that the same might hold true for AC3.. especially considering I never play the multiplayer components on PS3 games; PSN is way too flaky to bother.. so I don't.

I loved the Ezio character, the collection stuff and even the upgrading of the villa.. it's a shame it just got to the point of "going through the motions" to complete the game... because it is such a great looking game..

This may seem like an off-topic post.. but really, it's not.. I am wanting to hear from others who have had similar experiences to me with AC2, who now have AC3 themselves and whether or not it is any different?
3 years ago
Quote
I feel that the same might hold true for AC3..
AC 3 will be the next game, this is more of a gaiden game.

If your combat is the main issue you probably won't like this. If anything it's even easier especially with your assassin guild.

Can I just say how awesome the summoning assassins is though. My faviourte one was I summoned one and he suddenly popped out of a near by bale of hey, stabbed a dude, then ran off and disapeared.
3 years ago
Quote
One of the main disappointments was that it got too easy and became extremely repetitive.
This is something that's very understandable and I can see why some gamers aren't interested in the series for these reasons. The latter complaint is especially true in a lot of 'open world' style games. At least with AC you have the great story (the great story on the Desmond side for those who care, and the great historical story for those who care).

For me personally, I want to enjoy the story and the game world so getting bogged down by tough enemies is something that doesn't appeal to me. It is an assassin's game after all. You're supposed to feel like a bad arse. And as you progress, your skills get better and you become even more of a bad arse. The challenge of the game is getting 100% sync with every mission and I think that it's the best way. Rather than having to defeat tougher enemies as you progress, you have to ulitise the skills you've learned. Whether it be remaining undetected, killing an enemy from a hiding spot, finding the different route to take, utilising your weaponry and skills to dispatch an x number of enemies in an x amount of time...and you get the drift.

As for the repetitiveness. Yeah it is. It seems like a game more suited towards those with OCD inclinations with all the amount of irrelevant-to-the-story crap you can do. Brotherhood expands this even further with the Guild Challenges and micromanaging your own group of Assassins.

I don't think the formula strays enough in Brotherhood for anyone who didn't particularly care for AC2 to invest their time in it. Anyone who loved AC2 will absolutely love Brotherhood, but anyone who didn't needn't bother with this one imo.
3 years ago
Goddamn you Cian. I wrote off the series after disliking AC2, but something keeps dragging me back, and your review makes me want to play Brotherhood.

CIAN! CIAAAANNN!
3 years ago
I have to say, Jarrod, if you disliked Assassin's Creed II then Brotherhood is unlikely to sway you. For the rest of us normal people who saw ACII for the wonderful game it was, Brotherhood is essential.
3 years ago
Jarrod wrote
Goddamn you Cian. I wrote off the series after disliking AC2, but something keeps dragging me back, and your review makes me want to play Brotherhood.

CIAN! CIAAAANNN!
Yeah I'd say listen to Michael on this one.

Brotherhood to Assassins Creed 2 is like The Frozen Throne to Warcraft 3.
3 years ago
Sheeet. Cian is a wordsmith though and he did a good job of selling it, so I dont know.

Then again, if I dont like it I can whine about it on the forums. WIN WIN!
3 years ago
I'm starting to think of Assassin's Creed in the same way as Metal Gear Solid, it really is a love/hate thing. You really can't compare them, but opinions are divided with both.

Of course anybody who hates either of those games is 100% wrong, but that's their loss icon_wink.gif
3 years ago
Reckon it's worth buying for the single player alone? I loathed AC1 with a passion, it was the very first game that I bought that I thought of returning/selling ever. But it was a curious package. I could see some serious potential with the story which was the only thing that spurred me to finish it.

AC2 I liked. They fixed all the niggling, gnawing bits from AC1 and let's face it, Ezio is a much more enjoyable protagonist than Altair. With Brotherhood focusing on the multiplayer and whatnot, I'm a little divided, but I do have a keen interest on the setting/story (Renaissance period is so interesting).
3 years ago
Deffintly worth it for the single player alone. It isn't a multiplayer focused title. The single player is just as in depth if not more so then AC2.

TLDR: BUY DAT SHIT!
3 years ago
WarAdept wrote
Reckon it's worth buying for the single player alone?
Absolutely. Even though it hasn't changed a whole lot, it's just more of what made AC2 so great. It's essential for Creed fans, no other way of describing it.
3 years ago
It doesn't feel like a throwaway single player experience if that's what you're worried about. It basically kicks off where AC2 left.

I guess it depends on whether you find the stuff outside of the main missions interesting enough to complete. I, for example, have put 16 hours into the game and I'm only on the fourth memory, but I've done a lot of the frivolous stuff like freeing territories, buying shops, getting the treasure, hunting the glyphs, doing the mercenary/floozy/thieves assignments (both the mini-missions and the challenges). In terms of the actual missions I believe it is shorter than ACII.

(Edit: I shouldn't leave threads open)
3 years ago
I wonder how AC3 will go now that Patrice Désilets is gone.
3 years ago
Jarrod wrote
I wonder how AC3 will go now that Patrice Désilets is gone.
This is my biggest worry. I'm thinking at best it will continue down the same path that it's on now. At worst we wont ever get the fucking desmond game.
3 years ago
Damn it! I loved both games and AC2 was one of my favourite games. This review just makes me want to buy the damn game! Not enough money for all the sweet gaming goodness this year
3 years ago
The first one annoyed me to no end, yet I played through it simply to catch the glimpses of Desmond's story.

The second felt like a massive improvement, except for in the controls area. It came out not long after Uncharted 2 which did the wall climbing thing amazingly well. I still had to constantly fight with the controls, especially in the assassin's tombs. Yet Subject 16 and Desmond's story still intruiged me enough.

And now, fairly early on in Brotherhood, you get access to everyone's email account in 2012. Now I want to finish it to see if the emails give any clues as to whether the 2012 crew are actually trustworthy or not. And Subject 16's videos are even more cryptic too.

Ezio's infinitely more likable than Altaïr, even if he sounds like a wannabe Italian Antonio Banderas.
3 years ago
After reading the review, why is it not a 10?
3 years ago
DUC5 wrote
After reading the review, why is it not a 10?
10 = Revolutionary
ACB = Not quite...
3 years ago
I've only played the campaign and multiplayer for a couple of hours each, but loving it as a whole.

I hope more and more people get online to enjoy some stabby stabby!
3 years ago
I almost finished ACII, had about an hour to go... but i agree with all the people here that thought it wasn't a very good game... its just extremley shallow, the combat is weak. I'm really not surprised, Ubisoft games generally lack depth... thats a bit of a blanket statement, but I've never played one with real good level design. The only parts of ACII with good level design were the those tomb levels.

Anyways compare the depth of combat from Demon's Souls to ACII, in ACII you had an attack button and you could effectively mash your way through... the combat design was soooo weak, none of the weapons affected the game much at all... I find that alot of games these days they build a big open world and just populate it with 'stuff' and there's no real level design at all.

To sum up... Demon's Souls every element of the design is sooo carefully play tested and all the parts of the game combine well, but ACII is just 'stuff' but thats the way alot of games are made these days.
3 years ago
Quote
To sum up... Demon's Souls every element of the design is sooo carefully play tested and all the parts of the game combine well, but ACII is just 'stuff' but thats the way alot of games are made these days.
That's the... worst comparison I've ever heard.
3 years ago
See, I had lots of fun with the combat in AC2, it was a hell of a lot better than the first game, I could no longer counter my way through it. For instance brutes would own a large blade but you could easily tackle them with your bare fists and yank their weapon right from their hands for a gruesome finish.

Polearm guys were the same, only small blades were the cream of the crop here.

You can make the combat more interesting, you just have to want to.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  18/11/2010 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  UBI Soft
Genre:
  Action
Players:
  1

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