Assassin’s Creed is another series I’ve had a love hate relationship with. I was impressed by the scale and scope of the original game, but was left feeling quite disappointed in the monotony of the gameplay. I was intrigued by the premise of a person from the future going back in time via repressed memories to learn and extract information, so when the sequel came out I was interested enough to give it a shot, and was very happy to see that the issues that plagued the first had been mostly rectified.
Then the third game in the previously though of as only a trilogy was announced — but it was not a numbered release, but once subtitled Brotherhood. The reveal of the game proudly featured a new to the series multiplayer component and didn’t mention a single player mode, so many including myself were left wondering if this was a purely multiplayer experience — thankfully I can say that the game features a fully functional and standalone story in single player mode, and the addition of multiplayer does not sour any of the single player experience — in fact it adds to the mystique.
Brotherhood picked up immediately after the ending of Assassin’s Creed 2, and I mean immediately after, so if you’ve not played the second game in the series do not start a single-player game of Brotherhood unless you want some of the best twists in gaming spoiled for you. So without spoiling too much, you take control of Desmond again in the year 2012 and his group of assassins are on the run from Abstergo Industries, once you find a secure location to re-enter the Animus you head back to the days of Ezio and resume his quest to take down the Borgia family, only this time exclusively in Rome. As you make your way through Ezio’s memories you will travel throught the city, on assassination quests, escort missions and of course climbing towers to open up the viewpoints in the city.
This time however, the Borgia have taken control of 10 distinct districts in town, each signified by a tower guarded by a Captain and his crew. Once you eliminate the captain you can blow up the Borgia tower, which opens up that district fully, allowing you to purchase famous landmarks and shops. Doing this not only allows you to purchase new gear or healing potions from the Doctors, but also is a source of income in the game. As you progress through the memories the city becomes wide open and ripe with locations to visit, side quests to embark on and eventually citizens whom you save from guards, only to have the favor returned in the form of those citizens joining your own Assassin’s Guild.
These new assassins can be sent out on missions throughout Europe to help them gain experience, collect cash and gather items for you. The ones that aren’t sent out on missions (you can recruit up to 10) can be utilized in combat by you while roaming the city; a simple button press will call in available assassins to take down the target you’re near, and like flies they will come out of nowhere to ambush and take down the targets.
The biggest flaw to the game is a complaint that many have had since the beginning, that being that combat can be a little too easy. With the addition of the execution streak, the combat becomes even easier as it boils down to countering one attack then chaining a few executions together before countering another. If the developers were shooting for beauty and flow of combat, they definitely hit it with this change. The mysteries that were Subject 16 from AC2 are back again with some tweaks; the locations seem a little easier to find this time around and the challenges within are nicely varied. Without treading too much into the spoiler territory the payoff is once again worth it to find all these memory segments.
The multiplayer seemed to take front and center during the initial marketing push for this title, and honestly I quite enjoyed it. I generally don’t care much for multiplayer frag fest games like Call of Duty or Halo, so the gameplay mode here was obviously different enough to make this jaded gamer interested. In the basic mode called Wanted, each player assumes a persona and everyone enters a location from the game. The kicker here is that the area is littered with NPCs all of whom are dressed identically to the players character. Using the powers of observation you must observe these people while hunting a target that the game points out for you, using only a compass which acts like a hot/cold meter. While you watch and try to find your target there are other assassins out to get you as well, making it a great big game of cat and mouse, one which is quite entertaining.
A couple of other multiplayer modes are unlockable as well, lending to team death match style play and another that divides the players into three teams, and each team can only hunt one other, while being pursued by the third. Taking a cue from the recent addition of leveling up, as you kill opponents you gain experience which leads towards abilities, perks and weapon unlocks adding to the replay value while online.
Ubisoft has really done a great job making this franchise that started out on rocky terms with a lot of gamers turn the corner and become something that people want to keep coming back to. After shutting down the game for the night I always think that I should’ve pushed on for one more Borgia tower, or send one more assassin out on a contract to level her up. And it’s rare that I spend much time thinking about a game immediately after playing it. I am now really excited about what’s in store for us with the conclusion(?) of Desmond’s story. I don’t think that we’ll see Ezio in any main role in the next title, but we can rest assured that his legacy will have an impact in the story as a whole
Click the following links to buy the console versions of the game from Amazon:
- Not just multiplayer as was often perceived, but a very solid single-player campaign that further explores the adventure from AC2. Combat is even more fluid than ever, with some great meta-game additions.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360
— Jeff Paramchuk