When Assassinís Creed first hit the scene, I wasnít impressed at all. I loved the setting, and the story was decent even though it mostly confused me, but the gameplay felt like I was running circles, and the difficulty pacing wasnít well thought out at all. Later on down the road, I picked up Assassinís Creed II , and while I thought it was a major improvement, the lack of polish and large amount of glitches made the experience mediocre to me. Still, something tugged at me to play Brotherhood, and I have to say, this is the best Assassinís Creed I have played to date.
Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood picks up quite literally where Assassinís Creed II left off. As you likely know, Assassinís Creed is a story within a story. In 2012, Desmond Miles and company have found refuge in the ruins of Villa Auditore while fleeing the Templars. They set up a crude lab for the Animus and so continues Ezioís tale. This time, Ezio must join forces with his Assassin brothers in an attempt to stop Rodrigo Borgia, a corrupt politician, from taking over Rome. He is also attempting to locate the Apple of Eden, the powerful artifact which was central to the first gameís latter plot. While the Story of Assassinís Creed II held my attention, I never really felt involved with it. Brotherhood, however, gripped me. I began to care for the characters in the game. I wanted Ezio to succeed. I wanted Desmond and the others to make progress. And perhaps more than anything, I wanted Borgia to shut his wussy mouth. Even if you havenít played the other games, Brotherhood gives you a rundown at the beginning, and with the help of a wiki it wouldnít be hard to follow.
As I mentioned, Ezio teams up with the Assassin brotherhood, hence the title. While roaming the gameís areas you may stumble upon citizens attempting to attack guards. They are weak and unable to defeat them, and so you must help them. Once you save them, they plead their life to you and join the brotherhood, where they will be trained to become assassins. You can send recruits on missions to gain experience points, and as they level up you can upgrade their armor and weapons, and they will increase in ability. This is very important because you can summon your brothers to assassinate guards you cannot reach or that are out of the way, but still a nuisance. You can also call them to arms and get an extra edge in combat. If they die, however, they are gone forever and you will have to recruit a new assassin to replace them.
As in previous games, you have a variety of methods with which to accomplish your goals. The hidden blade is the series signature weapon, but there are also swords, maces, knives, and other such weapons as well as poison and the newest addition to the Assassinís Creed arsenal, the crossbow. The crossbow is seriously the coolest thing in this game, hands down. But I digress. Ezio can scale walls and traverse his environment in ways that would make The Prince from Prince of Persia red with envy. In the 90ís, we had games like Tomb Raider, and I constantly think back to them while playing this game. They laid the groundwork for series like this. Assassinís Creed is, at heart, a well-disguised platformer. Much of your time, especially in the Romulus Lairs (which can be found as part of a rather important side quest), is spent scaling whatever you can find in an attempt to reach y from x, usually with some enemy resistance to cope with along the way. While I got extremely sick of the repetitious formula in the first game, and even in ACII felt it becoming a bit tedious, there was never a moment in Brotherhood where I felt bored, or like I was doing the same thing all over again.
Graphically, Brotherhood is even more beautiful than ACII. While it runs on the same engine, and uses the same textures, there are FAR less glitches and everything has much more polish. ACII felt like it was incomplete, or like it hadnít been play tested. Almost every time I loaded that game, I experienced at least 2 glitches. I can say with honesty that I encountered one single minor glitch in my entire playthrough of Brotherhood. The city of Rome hasnít looked this good since the 1400ís.
The gameís musical score is almost entirely recycled from ACII, but I hardly noticed. Haunting choirs and vibrant violins and basses make up most of the soundtrack, and it fits just fine. The voice work is, as one may expect, fantastic and everyone from previous games retains their voice actor. Weapon sound effects are fairly realistic and believable as well, overall I have no complaints about the sound design.
Ultimately, my only complaint has to do with the notoriety system. If you go around murdering guards and acting crazy, the notoriety level will increase. You can rip wanted posters, kill certain generals, or pay off heralds to lower your notoriety level. However, there were some missions which require stealth, and take place immediately after missions that require you to take on a few armies in combat, thus raising notoriety. So, without giving you an opportunity to lower the notoriety, you will sometimes have to quit missions (occasionally when youíve made significant progress) just to go lower your notoriety and reboot the mission again.
There is an online multiplayer mode as well, but I was unable to try it for this review. My gold membership ran out, and since Iím getting a Wii U I have no plans to renew it. I have heard it descried as ďCall of Duty with swords and stealthĒ, and from what Iíve seen that sounds about right. Iím sure it can be quite fun, but cannot confirm that.
Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood is the most well-made and polished entry in the Assassinís Creed series that I have played so far. Assassinís Creed II gave me hope for the franchise, but Brotherhood has made a fan out of me.