Assassin’s Creed II is, without a doubt, one of the finest games of this console generation. Not only is it a candidate for one of the most improved sequels for a game, it takes everything the first Assassin’s Creed established and cranked it to the extreme. With just 364 days passing since ACII was released, one can only wonder how Ubisoft could possibly top the incredibly epic Assassin’s Creed II.
Cast your fears aside- Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is absolutely fantastic. Is it better than Assassin’s Creed II? Is it little more than Ezio’s Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines? That’s what you want to know, isn’t it. Well, it is and it isn’t. Some help that is. Brotherhood makes some great steps forward and some great improvements for the series, but many would argue the game doesn’t do enough to change the formula ACII set a year ago.
When Brotherhood was first announced, fans and nay-sayers alike worried that this was Assassin’s Creed 2.5. They were expecting little more than an expansion, and as soon as multiplayer was announced, fears flew around more than flies around a freshly fertilized crap farm. Fear not, however, because Brotherhood’s single player campaign is fully realized. You can expect 15 hours at least before you finish Ezio’s quest and put an end to Rodrigo Borgia’s rule once and for all. 15 hours is more than many games can offer, and that’s not including the hours you’ll likely spend tinkering around in multiplayer. But we’ll get to that in a bit. The game’s single player is absolutely massive. Players are let loose in Rome, which may seem like a step back after the four (five if you count Monteriggioni) cities from ACII, but when you consider just how absolutely massive and diverse Rome is, chances are you won’t care. ACII gave players a lot to do, but Brotherhood gives you more. At any one time, players will have the option of doing story missions (marked with the familiar ! sign from ACII), hunting for treasure chests, doing Assassination Contracts, doing faction quests (Courtesans, Mercenaries and Thieves) and hunting tombs filled with Followers of Romulus, the mythical half-wolf founder of Rome. So yeah, there’s no shortage of things to do.
However, nearly all of those things are completely optional. If you want to speed through the game you’re more than welcome to. You can scrape by doing the bare minimum and still have a great time. The Romulus Lairs are entirely optional (save for the first), but offer some of the greatest Prince of Persia-esque tomb prowling we’ve seen in recent years. Destroying Borgia Towers will allow players to purchase and renovate shops in the area, increasing their income and allowing them to purchase better equipment. After a few hours, you’ll get the ability to save citizens, recruit them to join your Assassin’s brotherhood (see where the title comes from?) and send them on missions around Europe. After enough training, your recruits will become assassins capable of helping you in combat.
Obviously, if you’ve played ACII, you’ll know what to expect from Brotherhood. Ezio returns with most of the tricks he learned from ACII, with a few new ones. For starters, combat has seen an overhaul, making it faster. Guards are tougher and players can’t simply mash attack and expect to win. They’ll at least have to throw a guard-breaking kick into the mix. Most excitingly, though, is the addition of kill chains. When players successfully counter an attack, they’ll gain the ability to quickly chain kills together, taking out guards instantly. These chains are incredibly rewarding to pull off and take a bit of practice to get the rhythm down, but once you’re able to take out 8 guards in the blink of an eye, you’ll feel like a hardened, badass assassin. Just as Ezio should.
The parkour has also seen slight changes and improvements, but as with the previous Assassin’s games, there will be times when the control can be a little off. You’ll run and want to jump to a specific pillar or ledge and miss. Thankfully, these instances are rare and when they do happen, rarely result in little more than a momentary setback. Climbing up buildings is as thrilling as ever, and Rome has some amazing buildings to climb. The Pantheon, the Coliseum and the Vatican are just a few of the famous landmarks you’ll climb around. The improvements to the combat are something you’ll likely feel immediately, and it helps to make the game more realistic and difficult. Guards also pack crossbows and even guns, so discretion and caution are stressed here more than in any other Assassin’s game.
(Hey, the review’s not over! Click here to read part 2!)