Friday, June 24, 2011

Assassins Creed: Brotherhood

Release Date: November 16, 2010 
Publisher: UBI Soft
ESRB Rating: Mature
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is the third game in the AC canon despite the fact that Ubisoft is reserving the actual numeral 3 for the next iteration of the franchise. The game picks up where Assassin's Creed II leaves off, so if you haven't played the previous titles, you may be better off starting there. Just in case though, here's the breakdown. Desmond has been recently liberated from the Abstergo Company who, by using a device called the animus, forced him to relive his ancestors' memories in the search of information on the whereabouts of a long hidden artifact that is itself the key to world domination. Desmond and his rescuers find a secluded place to set up their own animus to further probe his ancestors' memories- in this instance, one particular ancestor: Enzio Auditore da Firenze. Yeah, I know. It's complicated.
When we last saw Enzio at the end of the 15th century, all kinds of crazy stuff went down, and the end result is a Rome run by the Borgias. The previous game's villain, the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia, has secured the artifact, the Apple of Eden, and has become Pope. The Templars, now backed by the Papacy, launch an attack against the Assassins and Enzio, and his few surviving allies are forced into hiding out in the city of Rome to bide their time and rebuild.
Much of AC: Brotherhood's single-player experience remains faithful to AC2, but a few new dynamics are thrown in that prove to be a positive addition to the already tried and true Assassin's Creed gameplay. For one, Enzio can recruit new assassins into the order. Once you have liberated a district from Borgia rule, you can rescue citizens fighting the guards and train them to become assassins. You can then send them out on contracts in exchange for cash and occasional items. If not out on a contract, the assassin can be called out to assist in battle, to silently take out a guard in Enzio's path, or if Enzio has been busy recruiting, have them rain arrows down on a patrol or guard station.
In addition to the rebuilding effort, you'll also be tasked with assisting the other guilds allied with the assassin order (namely, the consorts, thieves and mercenaries) on several missions, and an old friend will call on you to recover some stolen schematics. All the while Enzio will be making his play to recover the stolen apple from the Spaniard. Throw in the usual flags, feathers and various treasure chests to hunt down, and the single-player campaign will easily last you a good 35+ hours if you're a completionist.
Brotherhood is also the first game in the series to feature a multiplayer component. I admit I was initially unsure about the idea, but I was pleasantly surprised. There are several game types- my favorite, and the most basic form, is Wanted. Up to eight players take to the crowded city streets in a game of cat and mouse. The object is to eliminate your target while at the same time staying one step ahead of your pursuer or pursuers.
Kills and escapes are awarded points in varying amounts based on the number of bonuses achieved. While simply running a mark down and plunging a knife in his back will earn you a cool 100 points, if you can manage to poison him unseen while blending in with a crowd you'd be looking at something like 1,000 points. These points not only determine the round's winner, but they also act as experience points by raising your level and unlocking new perks and abilities.
You'll need them in order to adapt since not all quarry act in the same manner. One map you might be playing against a bunch of guys using stealth and hiding in crowds. The next, all the players could be running around on the rooftops. The overall effect is a surprisingly fun, although somewhat uneven, multiplayer experience. The bright spots are further tarnished by long load times and, in my experience at least, occasional connectivity issues. Although neither of these issues has yet to keep me from the addictive online play.
All in all Brotherhood is a great game, but not one that will win over naysayers of the series. New players will feel a little lost on the story, especially if they accidentally stumble on one of Subject 16′s "The Truth" files, but fans of the previous titles will be pleasantly surprised by how much there is to do here. Don't let the lack of a 3 in the title stop you, this is no AC 2.5 or Assassin's Creed Lite. There's plenty of meat on these bones to keep you busy for quite some time

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