Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood review
Available for
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher
Ubisoft
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Reviewed by Jeff Morgan

I

went back to Ohio over Thanksgiving weekend and was shocked when my brother asked, “Hey, you want to rent the new ‘Assassin’s Creed’?” Somewhere, deep in the back of my mind, I knew they were releasing a new installment, but I hadn’t payed a lick of attention to release dates or even much info about the game. I had enjoyed the first two. The first was a decent way to launch the series and the second added a lot of replayability to the experience. The third follows the path of the second, this time adding multiplayer support and further expanding the immersive single player. If I have one complaint, it’s that the multiplayer isn’t very fun. It’s great when you’re killing, but when you’re the guy being killed repeatedly, you’ll want to break a controller or two.

“Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” once again puts you in the mind of Ezio, an Italian assassin who, for this game, is trying to revitalize Rome and take it back from the grasp of the Borgia. In all honesty, I didn’t care much about the storyline at the start. I hadn’t played much of “Assassin’s Creed 2,” so I was trying to remember what I could from the original game’s storyline. Luckily, the game dumps you into the action pretty quickly, so there isn’t a lot of time to worry about why you’re stabbing people. On the whole, it might have been nice to get a little back story, but it doesn’t break the experience that we don’t get it.

“Brotherhood” is by far the most immersive “Assassin’s Creed” experience I’ve had to date. The game allows you to roam and kill as you please, taking odd jobs from civilians as well as those quests that advance the storyline. Your primary source of income are the shops you can “repair” once you’ve freed an area from Borgia influence. Again, it’s not really clear why you need to repair the shops. It seems more like you’re buying them, but maybe the Borgia are just really foul-tempered dudes who like breaking apart old buildings. The good news is there are a lot of zones you can recapture, which means lots of chances to kill some guards and lots of money coming in afterward. Capturing a zone also opens up mini-quests within that zone, often with some pretty cool rewards. In that way, the game feels as much like an RPG as it does an adventure game, which, in my mind, is a good thing.

In “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood”, you can really feel the influence of the “Prince of Persia” series, which was also developed by Ubisoft Montreal. The game has a lot of long, choreographed jumping puzzle dungeons. The good news is those dungeons are usually pretty fun, have some nice rewards at the end, and tend to be en route to or part of your storyline quests. “Brotherhood” also implements a synchronization system that rewards you for making clean or complicated kills instead of hacking your way to a completed quest. For example, one early quest offered me bonus points for killing a target by throwing him into some scaffolding instead of the usual stabbing. I’m a big fan of any system that encourages players to play as the character might, and that’s just how the sync system works. You still get quest credit if you don’t try for the sync bonus and you can go back to try for it at any time. On the whole, “Brotherhood” has been given a lot more replay value than the previous titles.

That brings us to the multiplayer. I was pretty surprised to see that the game had a multiplayer system to speak of. Personally, I don’t like it. I’ve read a lot of forum posts from a lot of people who seem to be in love with it. It sounds fun. Who doesn’t want to run around assassinating people? The reality, though, is that you spend a lot of time on the receiving end of assassinations with no way to defend yourself. That part is not very fun, and for me, it counterbalances any enjoyment I might have from doing the killing.

The thing I don’t understand is that the game had a ton of potential for multiplayer. Where is the co-op campaign? Why isn’t there some sort of split-screen multiplayer or even local multiplayer support? It also hurts that players can’t import content from the previous game. There is a lot of unlockable content in “Assassin’s Creed 2,” some of which took a lot of time to achieve. It would have been cool if players were able to import the different outfits to showcase in their online escapades.

Overall, “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” is a very solid title. The campaign is immersive and interesting, offering plenty of replay value for your average adventure title. The multiplayer misses the mark, but with “Call of Duty: Black Ops” on the market, maybe that doesn’t matter.

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