Assassins Creed: Brotherhood

Ubisoft are at it again with there latest edition to the Assassins Creed franchise. Will they be able to mirror the success of Assassins Creed: II or will Brotherhood be a case of too many cooks?

In a nutshell Assassins Creed is a Stealth em-up set in past where you play as a member of the Assassins. A organization centuries old sworn to bring justice to the evil Templar organization. The Templar’s have been using religion, technology and political control to rule over the world in there vision. The main focus of their attention is centered around a mysterious piece of ancient technology called “the piece of Eden” or “the Apple”. With this many dictators have taken power throughout history and brought pain and misery to the world. In the last game you defeat the Roman head of the Templar’s and in Brotherhood you start off from that very same point. You take the Apple into the Assassins custody and that’s when all hell breaks loose. Your home town is destroyed, your uncle killed, the Assassins scattered to the wind, your girlfriend captured and the apple taken back into the hand of the Templar’s. Now you start you fight to rebuild the assassins order and get back the piece of Eden.

Brotherhood picks up directly after the second game so it gives you a brief rundown of what has been going on in the story, re-introduces you to the characters and lets you have at it. This was a nice touch and brings everyone, vertrian or newbie, up to speed with whats beeen going on. The core game play is unchanged but they have added in some new features. Some are a welcome change, others I am not to sure about. First thing that is different from the word go is that you can now ride horses within the city.

When shown on the demos this looked cool and fun as Etsio is riding around his hometown trying to get the the city walls as the buildings and streets are being demolished by incoming cannon fire. Its all very dramatic, filled with action and serves as a very good “how to ride a horse” tutorial. When using the horse in the city sans death and destruction its seems more clunky and less practical then its made out to be. As you have been a single man running around and free running over buildings in the last 2 games old habits die hard and you find yourself darting down alleys at speed on a horse, only to become stuck and frustrated with yourself for trying to get round the smallest back streets. Additionally the option to gallop has been taken away leaving the the horse with a weird trot/run that just looks wrong. Like the horse wants to gallop but is to scared to try.

One improved feature of Brotherhood is the surrounding countryside areas. I always felt it weird that once outside the city walls there where acres of lush fields with a few villages and building scattered around the place. Now it seems that the placement of buildings, ruins and other types of environment has been given more thought which makes it feel more of a solid world. This coupled with the massive scale of the world helps you feel very connected to the game’s reality

The combat and free running are just as good as the last game, however Ubisoft have tweaked it in places. This time round you are rewarded

Huzzar - these swords are bully!

for going on the offensive with a “execution” combo that allow you to instantly kill the next hapless NPC that gets in the way of your blade. This makes a nice blend between offensive and defensive combat that is easy to learn yet hard to master. Kudos Ubisoft. Also the inclusion of a crossbow is a welcome edition and adds to the game-play.

It also seems that the jumping part of the horizontal free running is a little more intuitive and allows you to skip and cut corners quite effectively. However this is not the same when scaling a wall vertically. I find myself flying through the air ,as I try to desperately grab any ledge, far too often. This normally happens when I try to leap for a handhold the old Etzio could reach in ACII just using charm alone. However this time I found that because I haven’t unlocked that ability in Etzio yet I can’t make the very small gap. What follows next is frustration , mashed buttons and me cursing my own stupidity as I leap away from the wall into clear ledge-less atmosphere. This is rectified by buying a perk that allows you to jump these gaps. However this does not compute for me, it seems like a person would remember how to jump higher without the need of a “special glove” (and lotion). This kills any immersion/good story telling you’re enjoying at that point and this really stuck out as a design flaw to me.

Like the last game you have you have a lot of treasure hunting to do. The variety of treasure has been increased with a lot of items woven into side quests to satisfy the RPG fan inside (if you have one). Additional story expanding side quests also allow you to play with Leonard’s war machines as well as take out Templar agents. You didn’t think you were the only Assassin in this game did you?

Speaking of which the “Brotherhood” is also a new and to me a welcome part of this game. It allows you to have backup on which you can call in when you need. There is some micro management to do for the other assassins, but thankfully it is limited to a basic setup including: armor, weapons and contracts you can send the assassins to complete. This gives them XP and money, for you to spend of course, and makes them more deadly when you call upon them. Additionally this helps to reinforce the storyline that there is a brotherhood that you are taking control off. However this may not be everyone’s cup of tea and thankfully they don’t make this a integral part of the game-play.

Surprise indian head massage!

This is one of the first AC’s I have played the Multiplayer for and I was presently surprised. The mode I played pitted me against other assassins which I was targeting, as well them targeting me. The game rewards stealth and cunning with a greater point score and the game-play does make running around trying to do in other players the easiest way of being spotted. I was not expecting this and I do think Ubisoft have finally found a winning formula for stealth multiplayer. It’s defenatly still in its infancy but very promising.

To sum up the latest Assassins Creed builds well on the second game but that’s all it does. The big leap in fun and functionality between 1&2 is not here in this third installment. There is plenty to do and plenty to see but nothing stands out with that wow factor the second installment bought to us. Maybe I’m being to over sensitive however I was really hoping for little more in the way of new. Moaning aside it is still a really good game that is probably worth the money for the amount of content alone. The singleplayer is very solid and the multiplayer will keep you amused for a while after you have completed the game.

Thanks for listening children!