The Assassin’s Creed games and I go back. When the first game launched in 2007 I took a bunch of heat for my review, calling it “dull, over complicated and boring.” While the second game was a huge step forward, my review pointed to many of the same problems. How do you think I’m going to like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood or Assassin’s Creed 2.5?
Surprisingly, a lot.
Brotherhood takes the formula created by Assassin’s Creed 2 and adds a few much requested features including multiplayer and adds them into the mix. No, this isn’t the next chapter, it feels much like a director’s cut re-release of the second game, but luckily, it’s pretty meaty package. Whether or not diving back into this world so soon is worth the full price package depends soley on how much you enjoyed your time the first go-round.
Brotherhood picks up almost directly after the events of Assassin’s Creed 2, after confronting Rodrigo Borgia below the Vatican, Ezio is ready to take a break. You know what ruins a vacaton? The ticked off son of your latest victim launching an all out assault on the templars. The villia is destroyed and our hero looses everything – yes, everything. Those who played and devoted a ton of time to building up the weapons sanctuary in Assassin’s Creed 2 will find that their progress means nothing here. Yes, you can say that it’s the nature of video games, but why not include some sort of save file feature ala Mass Effect 2? I’m not expecting to take all of my weapons with me, but it feels cheap to not reward your dedicated players.
Much of Brotherhood’s content takes place in Rome. Broken up into 12 separate districts, your job is not only to take down Borgia and get your revenge, but also restore faith and vitalty to the city. In each of the 12 districts stands a Borgia tower, which also means that soldiers patrol the city and opress the people and the merchants. Find your way to the top, take out the tower head and burn it to the ground and you’ll be able to revitalize the city, including blacksmiths, weapons makers and doctors, which of course will be vital in your play through. It’s not really a new mechanic as liberating Monteriggoni did the same thing in Assassin’s Creed 2, but it’s much more prevalent here in Brotherhood. Then again, you really don’t have to even deal with the towers at all if you don’t feel like it, but doing so opens up a ton of extra content that you’re going to want to explore to get the full experience.
At its heart, Brotherhood’s missions play nearly identical to those found in the second game – and that’s the game’s main problem. While it’s set in the same world, there’s little here to advance the story. Instead, you’ll be taking on additional contract assassin quests, looking for treasure and doing busy work. There are new weapons, items and a few new characters spread throughout the world, but none offer a ton of new variety to the game, which is a shame because with Brotherhood, Ubisoft asks for the full $59.99 price, which could prove to be too much for some.
The most disappointing aspect of Brotherhood though by far is the fact that some of the same problems that hindered the original game are still persistent. Targeting still sucks, and you’re going to have a hard time dealing with a crowd of attackers. There’s also an issue with the load times being incredibly long. Yes, there’s been an improvement, but it’s still quote lengthy more often than not.
Undoubtedly, Brotherhood’s biggest addition to Assassin’s Creed formula is the addition of multiplayer, and It’s quite fun. Each player is given a target to kill, which of course means that at least one of the others players is hunting you. The truly remarkable aspect of Brotherhood’s online suite though is that it takes place in a fully populated world much like that of the main quest. As a result, players are going to have to take a few minutes to think about how they’re going to take out their target. It also helps that XP is handed out based on performance (stealthy kills are worth more than your normal kills.)
Blast Factor: It’s hard to say whether Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is worth your money. On the one hand, it’s got an extremely fun multiplayer suite, but the real questions is – is it worth a full $60 price tag. If you can’t get enough of the tale of the the assassination attempts, jump right in to this director’s cut like package, if not, you may just want to wait for the eventual third game.