Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is the third main instalment in Ubisoft’s famous Assassin’s Creed franchise. It once again continues the intertwined story of Desmond and his Italian ancestor, Ezio Auditore de Firenze and their fight against the evil Templar Order. It only took around a year to hit stores after Assassin’s Creed 2, which is speedy development for an entire video game, but the question is, has it indeed developed on what its predecessors did right? Or is it just more of the same?
If you’ve played AC2, then Brotherhood will feel very familiar to you. The smooth, free running and fighting mechanics are a winning formula, so it is no surprise that Ubisoft decided to re-use them in this sequel. Although this game feels very similar to the last one, a few changes and developments have been made to arguably improve gameplay in both areas. The free-running in this game is better than ever with the inclusion of wooden construction lifts, which launch the character to the top of a building in a split second. There is also a parachute that can be unlocked later on in the game, which allows Ezio to jump from insane heights back to ground level with safety. The climbing and jumping haven’t changed since the second one, and all in all, it is a delight to hop, skip and jump around the Roman playground.
In AC2, it was common to be caught in a fight with several guards at a time, but the frustrating thing about this was that you had to wait for them to attack, and it became a tedious exercise. To solve this problem, the developers moved to the other end of the spectrum, allowing the player to initiate the attacks with a swift kick to the groin, leaving guards vulnerable to spectacular finishing moves. While this is visually impressive and empowers the player, in my opinion, it chokes out all aspects of stealth that the two previous games built on.
To add to this, the player can now swiftly move from victim to victim with the press of the button, meaning that once you land a kill move, you just keep pressing the attack, and he finishes off another guard instantly. This keeps going from guard to guard until you’re left surrounded by a pile of dead guys who never had a fighting chance. It does make the fighting smoother and more ‘bad ass’, but for me, it was just overkill.
The fighting mechanics would be fine if the missions were a bit more challenging, but aside from the odd climbing mission, I often found that instead of stealthily strolling through the crowd to get to my target, I could just pull out the newly added crossbow and fire at will. After the novelty of the killing streak feature wears off and you’ve seen everything it has to offer, in my opinion, all it really does is remove any hope at making the game challenging to beat. Those guards don’t stand a chance.
Graphics and Sound
The Assassin’s Creed franchise is known for its stunning visuals, and this time around, it lives up to its name. While in the first two games there are a variety of different cities you can travel to, each with its distinct style, there is only one city in Brotherhood: none other than Rome. Looking out across the large urban expanse from the top of the Castello’s flag left me gobsmacked at Ubisoft’s efforts and is one of the most impressive renditions of a city I have ever seen. Although it may be unique from a distance, common visual glitches such as texture pop-ins and occasional frame tearing sadly take the graphics down a few notches. If you ignore these minor annoyances and focus on the more excellent work at hand, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood has some spectacular aesthetics.
The voice acting is once again excellent, along with the soundtrack, which fits perfectly into the game. The ambient sound of peasants walking the streets and birds tweeting in the countryside adds to the immersive realism of the game. If you play it stealthily, then the subtle sound of Ezio’s hidden blade will be drowned out by the ambient surroundings, but if you go on a rampage killing every guard in sight, then the crowds around you will respond and run in terror.
If you take this game on its own, it is truly superb, but compared to the massive advances that Assassin’s Creed 2 made in relation to the first one, the developments that Brotherhood have made aren’t quite as dramatic. Note that I have only reviewed the single-player aspect of this game, and the introduced multiplayer, which mainly involves the player hunting another player while also being tracked at the same time, is a new dynamic to the franchise. The multiplayer does have the potential to be a hit, but it only scratches the surface in terms of a deep multiplayer experience, as I reached the highest level and completed most of the challenges that the game had to offer in a number of weeks. Overall, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is a solid instalment to the franchise, but hopefully, Ubisoft will really take their time with the next one to create something extraordinary.