(Click here to read part 1!)
There’s no question, this is the best looking Assassin’s Creed yet. The series has always provided realistic models and incredibly beautiful vistas, but the models look better, the textures sharper and the vistas more beautiful in Brotherhood. However, the game is beginning to lose some of its shine. The engine created in 2007 is showing its age, and Brotherhood pays the price with some nasty frame rate issues and graphical glitches. These are far from game breaking (as they could be in Fallout: New Vegas) but they’re there nonetheless. It’s exciting to see some models updated, especially considering ACII’s epic scale. Ezio aged, primarily near the end, but no other character in the game showed any change. This time around, Caterina Sforza sports a new look, uncle Mario has a new look, sister Claudia and more. It’s nice to see some of these characters get a new model to show the passage of time that helped make ACII so epic.
Part of what made Assassin’s Creed II so great was its epic, sweeping story. Players got to experience Ezio’s life from birth, his teenage years as a Florentine noble (albeit briefly) and rise to master assassin. We experienced his story and were able to connect with him on a more personal level. We saw the Templars kill his brothers and father and some of the atrocities they commit. Ezio’s story alone was gripping and filled with political intrigue, along with some great conspiracies. However, the other story, Desmond’s story, was advanced greatly. In the first game, we were forced to walk around the office as Desmond, reading e-mails and talking. Booooring. ACII made us play Desmond much fewer, and the times we did were much more memorable. ACII ended with an incredible cliffhanger that left fans wondering what it all meant.
Thankfully, Brotherhood picks up, literally, right where ACII ended. Ezio has just received the grim message of a future catastrophe directed at Desmond. Desmond and crew are on the run from the Templars in the modern day of 2012. Desmond haters will appreciate the fact that once again, Desmond’s story isn’t taking front and center. With the exception of a run through the run-down crypts of Monteriggioni with Lucy (which is honestly very fun, really!) and one quick fetch quest, play as Desmond is mostly optional.
But it’s Ezio’s story that we’re mostly concerned with. Unfortunately, the personal touches we had in ACII are missing here. Ezio is already an adult, already a master assassin. It’s the secondary players that take a bigger role this time around. Niccolo Machiavelli, La Volpa, Bartolomeo and more secondary characters have an expanded role this time around as Ezio seeks to expand the Assassins. Leonardo Da Vinci returns and Ezio once again gets to try his inventions, which include the flying machine, this time with a FREAKING ROCKET attached, or a god damn TANK. Yes, a tank.
The story is still filled with as much intrigue, history and conspiracy as before. The glyphs that introduced players to “The Truth” in ACII make a triumphant return, and as before, they’re completely optional. Desmond’s story is advanced nicely, and the game ends on another cliffhanger, leaving fans begging for closure and more bites of story.
Many thought this game would be mostly multiplayer, with campaign as an afterthought. That’s not the case. Make no mistake, multiplayer is fun. Ubisoft has done a great job capturing the essence of the Assassin’s Creed game and taking it online. The de facto “main” game is Wanted, where players are given a target to kill, but another player is chosen to go after them. The killers are let loose in the map, which is filled with NPC’s that look exactly like the models players are running around as. It can be incredibly thrilling to walk right by your killer because you aren’t drawing attention to yourself. Players get a compass that points in the general direction of their target, but it’s up to the player’s eyes and ability to notice differences in behavior to make their kill.
Once they make the kill, players get more points for doing it discreetly, which again ties to the real theme Ubisoft wanted this game to carry. Assassins are supposed to blend into the crowd and make their mark in silence. Time will tell whether or not multiplayer really takes off, especially with so many other options, but Brotherhood’s multiplayer is just different enough to stand out among the wave of first person shooters dominating the online market nowadays.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is a fantastic game, through and through. While it may not take as big a step forward as necessary, the addition of multiplayer, recruited assassins and other refinements to the game make this the most polished Assassin’s game to date. Whether or not it’s better than ACII comes down to personal preference, but Brotherhood is a great entry in the series worthy of the name. Ubisoft has shown exactly why this series is one to watch out for and why it’s one of the greatest franchises of the last 10 years.