Assassin’s Creed: BrotherhoodESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action Games
Online Multiplayer: 4-8
4 MB to Game Save
In Game Dolby Digital
To say that the Assassin’s Creed franchise has surpassed Ubisoft’s expectations would be an understatement. When Assassin's Creed first busted on the scene in 2008, gamers fell in love with the game as it sold millions of copies and scored high marks from reviewers across the board. A little over a year later, the sequel arrived with a new storyline, new gameplay mechanics and a new setting different from its predecessor. Again, like the previous installment, Assassin’s Creed II sold a large chunk of copies and was highly regarded by many in the gaming industry. Along comes Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood for the Xbox 360, a continuation of the previous Assassin's Creed game. It is by no means considered an expansion pack so I was very curious to see if the franchise could take the Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood series to new levels. Well after some extended play time with Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, I have to say I am impressed. Yet at the end of the day fans should not expect a vastly different experience this time around.
Visually, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is stunning looking game. Using the same graphics engine as Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood has a similar overall look as the previous Assassin's games. Everything we have come to enjoy about the series is displayed in glory. The environments are, once again, second to none and beautifully detailed. The city of Rome comes to life and the enormity of the city is truly felt in the game. The game's characters are equally sharp looking and move incredibly life-like. The detailed animations are stunning and the cut-scenes deliver. The varied combat animations are also stunning as every fight seems like an original one. Repetitive combat is simply not an issue in this game. Also, the game's menus are sharp and easy to navigate. Despite using the same graphical engine as Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood certainly takes a leap forward in the visuals department and maintains the series in 'Triple A' standing as far as the overall look is concerned.
The sound is an excellent compliment to the game's sharp graphics. Everything from the voice acting to the music sounds fantastic. Sure the voice acting can be a little over the top at times but it is perfectly suited for the game. Not to mention the game has some terrific sound effects. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood features rich sounds that should only be experienced in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. Overall, no concerns surface in terms of the game's audio package.
As I mentioned at the top, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood serves as a continuation of Assassin's Creed II. Ezio Auditore da Firenze and Desmond Miles return as the main protagonists, and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood takes place right after the conclusion of the previous game's story. The story begins with our hero Ezio escaping from Rome with his uncle and they return to their quaint villa in Monteriggioni, Italy. But before he gets too settled, his city comes under attack by Cesare Borgia, son of Rodrigo Borgia. The Assassins are overpowered and the entire city is left in ruins. Just as Cesare's armies cause absolute destruction and mayhem, they capture an ancient artifact called the Apple of Eden. This artifact is known to cause great power. Ezio manages to escape with his family and they decide to abscond to Rome, the center of the Templar Order in Italy. With revenge clearly on the forefront, Ezio embarks on a journey to reestablish the Assassin Brotherhood in Rome and destroy the Templars, as well as his new arch-nemesis, Cesare Borgia.
Overall, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is an engaging storyline and it did manage to keep my interests up throughout the game. The story can get a tad confusing at times and can also be difficult to follow. This is mainly due to the size of the single player game which can take in excess of 20-hours to complete. Often I found myself losing sight of what was going on as I spent hours on some the game's side missions. The confusion is also due to the many characters you encounter. Far too often I would be wondering who certain characters were and what their purpose was. I really started to get lost when the game goes into a virtual world of sorts, as Desmond Miles (a direct descendent of Ezio) relives some of Ezio's memories. Fans of the franchise will have no problems following the story and knowing what is going on at all times; however, the same cannot be said for those who are new to the series.
Similar to previous entries, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood maintains its sandbox open world feel. The game keeps you moving in a somewhat linear fashion; however, there are plenty of things to keep you distracted. Such things as collecting items, developing guilds and reviving the city of Rome, to name a few, all lend to a game where you really never get bored. And let's not forget all the assassinating you do throughout the game. Killing enemies and leaping from rooftop to rooftop is once again a treat. Similar to Assassin's Creed II, the ability to buy weapons is back. Not to mention you can also use your currency to restore properties in Rome. Bottom line, there is plenty of gameplay elements to keep you playing the single player game for weeks, if not months on end.
The varied missions really keep the gameplay moving in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Whether it be fetch quests, escorting allies, stalking someone and of course assassinating, the amount of variety in the game is fantastic. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood adds a few more wrinkles in the mix but the core gameplay returns. The city you explore this time around and revive is absolutely gigantic. Ezio's steed helps navigate you through the world. Additionally as you progress along in the game tunnels open up that allow you to quickly get from one side of the map to the other.
New to the franchise is the management system where you can recruit new members by destroying any of twelve "Borgia towers" around Rome where papal troops are stationed. You then rescue the disgruntled citizens and they become part of your team of Assassins. You can customize their appearance, skills and weapons training by spending the skill points they accumulate. Gaining skill points is accomplished by sending your minions to assignments around Europe or by calling them for support during missions; provided they are not busy elsewhere. Having the Assassins do some of your dirty is critical to your advancement in the game and at times it is blast. This being said, it does take some of those situations, which in the past where extremely challenging, and makes taking down the enemies less of a challenge.
Some other new additions to the Assassin's Creed world this time around are fancy new weapons and other new gadgets. You can use a wickedly effective crossbow, poison is now faster acting, and you can use a parachute to get across tall buildings. Ezio also has the ability to hold and throw heavier weapons like axes. Needless to say, these new little gadgets and weaponry only enhance the gameplay experience.
Assassin's Creed combat has also received some enhancements. The combat system has been upgraded to be faster and more dynamic. Taking down enemies not only looks but also feels incredibly satisfying. Ezio can use melee and ranged weapons at the same time. Also, this time around it is not all about the counter attacks as offensive attacks work quite well and effectively take down the enemies. The new combat system seems much more fluid this time and is certainly an upgrade over the previous games. Sure, it may not be as challenging as before but it is at the very least every bit as satisfying.
The single biggest addition is new multiplayer mode. Similar to other multiplayer games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the multiplayer mode includes a leveling system, which allows players to unlock rewards by earning experience points during the matches and gaining new levels. Players can unlock abilities, perks and streaks. Abilities are active skills, which can be used again only after a cool down time. Perks are passive skills, which can be equipped before the match and they are active all the time. Streaks are bonuses awarded for reaching certain number of successful or failed contracts.
In multiplayer mode you are given a target to hunt while another player hunts you. Unfortunately, those like myself who love to 'run and gun' won't be able to accumulate many bonus points. Bonus points are awarded for being as stealth-like as possible with the final point total determining the winner. There are four game modes and different maps, including the areas from the first and the second game like Florence, as well as new maps like Rome, Castel Gandolfo and Siena. Overall the multiplayer game is enjoyable and the perks system is rewarding. I found it didn't have quite the same depth or appeal as say Black Ops' online game has; nevertheless it a welcome addition to the franchise.
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