|Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
Author: T_H_Schafer -- Posted: 2011-05-04
Platform: PC (Reviewed), XBox 360, PS3
I played the original Assassin's Creed on the 360 a little while after it came out. What I played amazed me. Assassin's Creed offered a lush environment spanning the cities Jerusalem, Damascus, and Acre, beautiful vistas, it had a great mix of stealth, platforming and action, plus a generous helping of parkour, that free running stuff seen in commercials and such, to help you navigate the surroundings. The way you had to blend in with the crowd as it flowed about naturally while finding assassination targets was exhilarating stuff. The way your character flawlessly scaled a cobble stone building by grabbing onto ledges and cracks blew my mind a little bit. And even though some disliked the long travels between cities, I tended to enjoy them a little. It gave pause to the action and revealed different locations slowly, making them seem unique.
I'll admit that I skipped Assassin's Creed 2, so there was some confusion as to the story in Brotherhood, but it wasn't really something I couldn't overcome. I heard that Brotherhood was very much like an Assassin's Creed 2.5, and even though I did not play 2, I'd like to agree. Progressing through Brotherhood, I couldn't help feel as though some of the soul from the original had been lost in favor of more sandbox activities to partake in. This isn't really a bad thing at all, in fact it is mostly good. There are lots of things to do in Rome this time around. You can take over enemy territory, which frees up establishments to reopen and earn money for you. You can purchase new weapons, armor and clothing, upgrade a team of assassins that act as your personal murder squad and even collect classic pieces of art. You're never far away from a mission or something to do.
Touching on the murder squad, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood seems to be all about the murder squad. Essentially you'll find individuals willing to fight the powers that be which you can recruit, give them one of those fancy spring loaded wrist daggers, a white cloak and they'll be good to go. While they're under your wing you can send them out on missions to earn extra dough and increase their experience along the way, though during these missions they'll be unable to assist you back home. When they're not off doing missions they are more than happy to dispose of whichever guard or guards might be in your way. Depending on how many you've recruited, you can either call a few to literally come out of the woodwork and stab all the bad guys away or hold down the button to summon a spattering of well aimed arrows to silently do them bad guys in.
Other new additions including numerous weapons to choose from including swift swords, slower but much larger and powerful swords, crushing hammers and crossbows. You'll have more assassination methods to employ as well including poison tip daggers that make unsuspecting guards go a little haywire causing a distraction that you can use to get past trickier areas. One of my favorite additions is the ability to toss some coin into the street which keeps the beggars off your back but also ensues in crowds frantically collecting your dropped cash blocking guards and causing a general ruckus.
The soul that I mentioned earlier was that special thing the original Assassin's Creed had that's hard to put a finger on. Likely, it was just an awesomely innovative game for the time, something a sequel can't really reproduce. Even though the original lacked a whole lot of extracurricular activities, the primary focus of finding and eliminating assassination targets seemed more purposeful and immersive. In my mind, Brotherhood's campaign isn't as interesting but, gameplay wise, it really does a better job than the original. You still have a modern day character controlling the main character via a memory chair computer contraption, but you can basically stick to dream land this time around and are only forced back into controlling the modern day chap once or twice. As such, the story unfolds just how you want it to, giving you the information you go after. You're free to skip whatever you please or ignore segments if you like but if you want to dig deeper you'll find a lot of substance.
The addition of a multiplayer component wasn't something I'd expect from a game like Brotherhood, but it works out surprisingly well. Most of the multiplayer modes are variations of a game of hide / seek / assassinate. There are a limited amount of character models walking about, out of which you may pick your persona. You're task is to blend in among these A.I. characters and seek out an assassination target while avoiding those wishing to do you harm. So, hanging around similar looking characters while trying not to act suspicious is the way to arouse unwanted attention is the basic strategy I employed, though often I'd get impatient and try running to seek out my target. This usually led to my demise.
Brotherhood succeeds in all the places that were lacking in the original game. There are tons of things to keep one busy in the single player campaign and with the addition of a stellar online mode, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood is a well put together package. All the features that made the original so awesome are still there and in some respects improved upon. Assassin's Creed is certainly a series deserving of sequels, but I really can't wait till the series gets out of bounds and goes to the future or something. I don't think I'm the only one who wants this.