During the fall of 2010, I reviewed a number of games in preparation for the releases of the last quarter of the year. I've already reviewed Fallout: New Vegas and Fable 3 so now it's time for the one that I had the least faith in. It took me a while to get this review put together as over the past few weeks I've been occupied with other things and I dedicated much of my blogging time to the First Law Trilogy. So without further delay, it's the Illusive One's Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood Review.
Once again, the game is a frame story, with Desmond Miles in the modern world and Ezio Auditore in Renaissance Italy. In this game, Desmond once again has to enter the Animis in order to find where Ezio hid one of the pieces of Eden in order to get an edge over Abstergo and the modern day Templars. In order to find this memory, however, Desmond has to relive a certain time period in Ezio's life, for reasons similar to the ones in the first Assassins Creed. Ezio's story picks up immediately where 2 left off but not all is well with the Assassins. Cesare Borgia, son of Rodrigo Borgia attacks the Villa Ezio calls home with his army, killing his uncle in the process, and kills and scattering many of the Assassins. Cesare is also poised to make himself king of Italy and it’s up to Ezio to stop him by cutting off his funding and support in Rome and rebuilding the Assassin Brotherhood.
The Gameplay was identical to that of Assassin’s Creed 2 in basic controls and fighting. With the exception of the beginning and flashbacks, your travailing in this game is limited to Rome and the main difference in gameplay was the way you moved and operated in the city. Much of the game involves side missions where you attempt to drive the Templars out of Rome district by district. This will usually involve killing a Templar Captain and then burning down a tower, allowing for Assassins influence to enter the area. With this accomplished, the game allows you to renovate buildings in the area of influence such as doctor offices, black smiths, and banks that all put money towards your income.
While the campaign mode in this game was relatively short compared to 2, it made up for it with a huge number of side missions. These side missions often involved a variety of things such as Assassinations, the tracking of traitors, helping in wars between thieves’ guilds, and simple races. A noteworthy series of side quests involve Ezio flashing back to memories of his old lover, Christina Vespucci. Another noteworthy side quest series are quests that involve Ezio destroying weapons Da Vinci made for the Borgia that include primitive tanks, machine guns, and flying bombers.
Another major difference has to do with the weapons Leonardo Da Vinci made for you in 2. During the attack on the Villa, Ezio looses most of these weapons and has to pay Da Vinci to rebuild them and their interaction is limited.
The final difference is, as the cover implies, the ability to recruit Assassins from the common population. These recruits can both be called in to help you during a fight or sent off on missions across the world to earn you money. In addition, these assassins gain experience and as they level up their weapons and armor are upgraded, allowing them to take on more dangerous missions across the world or to become more useful to you in combat.
While most of the characters are the same, they have gone through radical changes. Ezio has, by this point, become a full blown Master Assassin but the cost to him has been high. Most of his former friends and family have either died directly or indirectly due to his actions and those who remain have become estranged to him. Even Da Vinci, his best friend in 2, has been forced to distance himself from Ezio due to his involvement with the Assassins. While Ezio isn't quite world weary and broken, it doesn’t seem like it will take much more to break him. He seems to have reached the point in his life, as they brilliantly put in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull, where life has stopped giving things and has started taking them away. Most of the other supporting characters' time in the game with Ezio is limited and there’s not much to say.
The characters in the modern world have more dialog and you interact with them more. While it is refreshing, your time in the modern world is limited and the characters haven't changed at all.
All around this game was a huge surprise to me. The first surprise was that it had even been made so soon after 2, and the second being that it was so damn good. My initial fear was that it would be a crappy game, more like an expansion then a sequel, made to cash in on the franchise. But as it turned out, it was, indeed, a great game and a worthy successor to Assassin’s Creed 2, if a bit shorter and less epic feeling. In conclusion, it was one of the greatest games of 2010.