I’m currently well and truly caught up in the hype for November’s Assassin’s Creed Revelations. Having reviewed the last two Assassin’s Creed games, I’d be buggered if I’ll spoil the gaming experience by have to rush though Revelations in order to shit out a review for a web deadline. No, I’ve got my Assassin’s Creed Revelations Animus Edition for the Xbox 360 all reserved nicely, as every smart gamer should and I’ve going to play it in my own time.
Now I could wax lyrical about Assassin’s Creed all day. In fact I’ve already written some, which I’m going to publish on this very blog at a later date. For now all I’ll say is if you have a PlayStation 3 but no PlayStation Plus subscription, go and bloody buy one, you tight sod, and then download the Assassin’s Creed Revelations multiplayer beta as if you life depended on it. Do it now, and once you’re done come back here are read my Assassin’s Cred Brotherhood Review, as (possibly*) previously published in Game Console magazine.
As always, enjoy.
The Assassin’s Creed saga is in my opinion, the most intelligently created videos game series ever made. Where else will you find a history lesson wrapped up in a science fiction tale that also turns out to be the mother of conspiracy theories? Out-doing the most avid foil hat-wearing nut-jobs, Ubisoft have managed to neatly tie together Templar knights, Nikola Tesla, aliens, the Garden of Eden and countless other esoteric subjects. It is such a highly polished yarn that one wonders if the developers know something that the rest of us don’t.
How I marvelled at the middle-eastern setting of the first game. Sure there wasn’t much to do, but I still spent hours running across rooftops taking in the most wondrous virtual environment that I’d ever seen. Even the story, as left-field as it was, pressed all the right buttons for me. Assassin’s Creed 2 refined the game to near perfection, with a plot that drip fed the player towards what I felt was an obvious and yet still chilling conclusion.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is a success in that it is the definitive Assassin’s Creed experience. Were this the first time I had experienced the adventures of Desmond’s ancestors, I would have been totally blown away by the depth of gameplay and the richness of the world that Ubisoft have let us explore. For Ubisoft third time is a charm. This is the game that Assassin’s Creed and Assassin’s Creed 2 should have been.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood continues the story of the Italian Assassin, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, from Assassin’s Creed 2. Ezio’s city, Monteriggioni is under siege from the forces of Cesare Borgia. During the battle Ezio’s uncle, Mario, is killed. Seeking revenge Ezio heads back to Rome. Meanwhile, Ezio’s descendant and modern-day assassin, Desmond Miles, along with his companions seek out the ruined Villa Auditore as a base.
Bringing the modern-day story to Monteriggioni is a nice touch, giving players the opportunity to explore the modern version of the city as Desmond. It’s really strange to see parked cars, street signs and electric lights in the town. Brotherhood continues to pull Desmond’s story and the historical assassin’s tale together.
Whilst the story will make more sense to players of the previous games, it may actually help players that previous found the narrative a bit too heavy make sense of it all. Despite the main plot being more structured than before, new players are going to most defiantly be completely lost.
Visually, Brotherhood has the same great looks of its predecessors, although this time Ubisoft have really upped the ante by meticulously recreating Rome circa 1500AD. You really can’t fail to be impressed by the awesome scale of famous landmarks such as the Coliseum and Vatican City.
Rome is huge in comparison to the cities that Ezio visited previously and so Ubisoft have provided two additional ways for player to get across the city. The first is on horseback; for the first time players can now ride horses within the city walls. Ezio can ever carry out Grand Theft Auto-Style hijackings, pulling riders from their mounts and making off with their horse. The other way the inpatient traveller can get around to using a network of tunnels that, for a fee, can be opened up as you visit different areas.
In stark contrast to the first game, Brotherhood is packed with features and side missions. Advancing on the task of “Synchronising” from vantage points overlooking the city, players are now tasked with capturing towers. The Borgia control sectors of Rome from nearby towers. By taking out the tower captain, climbing up and then setting the tower alight, Borgia control of the area is relinquished to the assassins. Players may then renovate that part of the city, allowing traders to open.
Another new addition is the ability to recruit other assassins. Ezio can call upon his guild of assassins at any time to aid him. Assassins can also be sent overseas on missions. The more you use the assassins the more experience they gain. Players can also upgrade and edit the appearance of the available assassins.
I found the missions to be less challenging than the previous games; however, to achieve “100% synchronisation”, players must carry out the missions fulfilling certain objectives (such as by avoiding detection). This rewards skilful play and makes running in and clumsily fighting your way through less appealing.
The long-awaited multiplayer mode has been skilfully integrated into the Assassin’s Creed mythos. The introduction sequence explains that players are recruits experiencing a training program within the animus, in the same facility seen during Desmond’s escape from the Abstergo Corporation in the second game. The multiplayer modes are basically “cat and mouse” games whereby player must assassinate their target whilst avoiding assassination themselves. Out of the box the game comes with eight multiplayer maps featuring locales from the last two games. There are also seventeen character classes to choose from, each with their own moves and abilities. Scoring isn’t just on kills, bonuses are awarded for stylish kills, escaping pursuers, co-op kills and top scoring at the end of the game.
There is no denying that Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is a formidable achievement. It is the most complete and well-rounded game in the series so far. Whilst the multiplayer game isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I still found it a welcome addition to the game. If you enjoyed the last two games, you’ll most definitely enjoy this.
Lasting Appeal 8.0
Overall Score 9.0
*In this bit I usually say something like “this review was originally published in blah…blah…blah”. It should have been published in New Zealand’s Game Console magazine, but I can’t find it anywhere. So this may actually be a very belated Vic B’Stard’s State of Play exclusive!