Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: 11/16/2010
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Brotherhood is one of those sequels that was thought to be just a cash cow tie-in for II, and everyone forgets about it. In fact, it was supposed to be a multiplayer-only add-on, but a few months before release we realize it has a huge single-player experience bigger, and better than II. This is what sequels should be like, especially if they borrow everything from their predecessor. Now Brotherhood isn’t a true Assassin’s Creed sequel like II was to the first one, but a new chapter in the amazing universe of 1500’s Renaissance Italy. This time the game is set in Roma (Rome), and it’s huge, and there’s a lot more to this game than one skeptical fan might suspect.
The story is just as engaging, if not more complex, than II. Ezio is now older, and the leader of the assassins, and must stop the Borgia reign in Roma (since he failed to kill Rodrigo Borgia in the second game), but Rodrigo himself is only seen twice in the game, and briefly. It’s all his minions and the fight against Cesare that is the main focus here. The game still has a deep political plot that ties in with real-life situations, and people, at the time.
Along with that you can also play as Desmond Miles outside the Animus and he has a bigger gameplay part with a whole section dedicated to restoring power to today’s Auditore Villa for the team’s new hideout to find the Apple of Eden, and stop Abstergo and the Templars. While you only see these guys at the beginning and end of the game, you get another cliffhanger ending that will lead to the third game, and also a great conclusion to Ezio’s story.
The game plays exactly like II with no changes to gameplay except some added stuff like a new crossbow, which is a Godsend for killing stealthily from far away. It’s great to do a mission and wipe guys out with a crossbow, and not get detected for those hard-to-reach guys. There aren’t any newly added weapons besides that, but combat is enhanced slightly so it’s not such a counter fest. You can kick enemies, combo Arkham Asylum style, and even do some nice executions with the pistol. This is a nice change to combat and makes it a little more fun. You can also call in assassin recruits to help you and this is extremely helpful, but more on that later.
Despite the main chapters, there are more side missions than you can shake a stick at. The side missions will take a good 20+ hours to complete and are tons of fun. You have the Borgia towers that have to be burned. These have to be burned down to buy closed down stores, restore areas, and landmarks. You have to enter a restricted area, kill the Borgia captain then climb the tower and burn it down. There are quite a few so these will keep you busy, and finding and killing each captain is different and challenging. On top of this, you can buy stables, blacksmiths, doctors, art stores, tailors, faction buildings, banks, and landmarks to restore Roma 100%. You will increase the city’s income and it will deposit in a bank every 20 real-world minutes.
There are other side missions for each faction (thieves, courtesans, and mercenaries), as well as assassination contracts, Christina missions, finding more The Truth files (10 this time), and now Lair of Romulus missions which have six in all and are much like Templar Lairs. After you find all six keys you can unlock the Romulus armor which is like Altair’s armor in the last game. You can also go to pigeon coops and play a mini-RPG that lets you send your assassin recruits out on missions based on their experience. Missions are based on difficulty and you will see a percentage bar on how successful they will be. Send more than one to fill it higher, but if they come back you can upgrade their armor or weapons, and when they reach level 10 you can make them full assassins. These are also helpful during missions since you can call up to three, or call them all for an arrow storm and kill all enemies on-screen. It’s great to call an assassin onto someone you can’t reach then go in further without getting detected.
On top of all these missions can only be synched 100% if you complete the challenge such as using your hidden blade, completing it in this amount of time, don’t kill this person, only kill this person. It adds a surprisingly huge amount of depth to the game and makes playing missions (both side and main) more interesting and challenging.
Now the multiplayer is a really fun, and surprising addition to the series. There is only one mode and it’s all about a free-for-all cat and mouse hunt. You are given a target (another player out of 7), and you must use your abilities and skill to kill them while you may also be pursued. So you have to find your target and keep from getting killed yourself. The game has a Call of Duty style perk and ability system that lets you customize load-outs as well. The game is very addictive and keeps you on your toes. You must blend, and try to just act natural since NPCs also have the same looks as other players. There are many characters to play as, and each has its own unique abilities. The multiplayer will keep you hooked and come back to the game long after the single-player is exhausted.
With tons of new content, great new characters and a story, and an awesome multiplayer suite Brotherhood is an example of what sequels should be like. I highly recommend this to fans of the last game, and anyone who loves the variety in their games.
Collector’s Edition: For an extra $40 you get a Jack-in-the-Box with either the Plague Doctor or Harlequin (depending on what store you get it from), as well as a bonus DVD, extra maps (one exclusive to the PS3), a playable multiplayer character, and art book, and the soundtrack. This is a huge value for $40 dollars and is a must-have for fans. The Jack-in-the-Box is made a tad cheaply with weak springs, and getting the things to close is annoying, but the figure itself is high quality.