Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
‘Never not stabbing guys in the face’
I never played the second Assassin’s Creed, after playing the first one I felt there were too many issues with it to warrant a revisit. having been told that they improved the game in leaps and bounds for the second incarnation I decided to join back in with the latest installment and since Parkour and stabbing people with hidden wrist-mounted pnuematic blades are two of the hobbies I list on my CV when approaching employers, this game reads like a fantastical daydream i’d have. So with my sociopathic tendencies revealed I feel we should move onto the review
You are once again Desmond Miles a man with an extremely…interesting family tree and you are hunting for a mystical ‘piece of Eden’ a maguffin to end all maguffins which can control minds, time and reality. you attempt to track down this magical all in one remote using a device called an ‘Animus’ to revisit memories of Desmond’s assassin ancestors written into his DNA. Desmond and his crew of Scooby doo rejects are on the run from an evil organisation of Templars who are also after the piece of Eden and so are lying low operating from an Italian villa basement allowing Desmond to jack in to the matrix, ehh sorry, Animus and become Ezio Auditore De Firenze (a man who’s name is so long it requires a pause for breath) through his magic DNA.
As previously stated I skipped out on playing the game that this is a direct sequel to but even so I felt that the opening of the game caught me up to speed very quickly with who, what and where. From there it proceeded forwards with very little need for knowledge of previous events which is something I very much appreciated. I felt like the story itself was a bit disjointed between the overarching story of Desmond miles and the memories of Ezio, in fact at the midway point I almost entirely forgot about Desmond and his reason for being in the Animus until the end of the game when the story seemed to leap forward at a pace so quick I kept thinking i’d skipped a cutscene or two. Having said that alot of that problem came from me caring so much about the Ezio story that I wouldn’t leave the Animus to check up on the mystery inc. crew back in 2012 unless forced to by the game. The story does get a bit Wachowski brothers towards the end but overall I enjoyed the ride, the ending can go suck a dick though… guess I’ll have to wait for the next game
A cyber-geneti-magically recreated renaissance Rome is where you’ll spend most of your time as Ezio leaping, jumping, hopping, skipping and murdering dudes whilst reliving his memories in an attempt to sync up to Ezio’s memory of where he left the piece of Eden so this is where you’ll find your fun and fun there is, the Parkour and combat in this game are sublime. The context sensitive combat/traversal system is back in play and I have some gripes with it but both systems are polished to a level that shines. combat felt engaging and satisfying making you feel like a real badass as you counter opponents and then proceed to leap around executing very well animated finishing moves to surrounding enemies. The traversal system in the Assassin’s Creed games was always good and I feel they made the paths you can take a touch easier to spot this time around and as always it feels extremely intuitive and satisfying to leap around the city like a meth addicted gibbon. There were issues i took with parts of the gameplay, the Leonardo Da Vinci missions one and all controlled like ass and Ezio seemed to have a great deal of trouble leaping onto the tops of poles often leaping in the opposite direction, failing a total synchronization goal and having to restart a memory was a chore as well since they hide load screens in the cut scenes so attempting to skip them lead to sitting for an equal length of time at a loading screen. also the interface for handling your brotherhood of assassins is also kind of a let down, overall though I had a great time and the game controlled beautifully.
The multiplayer is where alot of the marketing focus leading up to release focused on so it’s what I started with when putting the disc into the Xbox and after a somewhat awkward tutorial I leapt into a game with murder of my fellows on my mind. I leapt to 1st on the leaderboard by awkwardly running around and stabbing guys, only to then drop to the bottom then climb to the top and the game ended, locked up, crashed back to the main menu then insisted I should start the tutorial as I was new to the multiplayer experience. I persisted and tried to get another game only to be constantly thrown out of the lobby and have the game freeze up, eventually I got into some games and found them to have little structure to the gameplay. Often I’d kill my target only to then be killed by my pursuer who was in turn killed by his pursuer who was in turn killed by the person I’d killed to start of this vicious circle of gloriously animated carnage and whilst this was incredibly fun I found myself having had my fill after very few matches and I feel no real pull to get back into it.
As stated your main characters are Desmond and Ezio, Desmond rolls around with a crew of attractive 20 something specialists being a blonde love interest, a sarcastic British historian, extreme sports hacker chick and a wisecracking dog (may or may not include wisecracking dog). the historian and hacker come across well as characters with their love/hate antagonistic dialogue but the blonde Lucy doesn’t show much depth and comes across as somewhat two-dimensional. Desmond also seems a somewhat lifeless character with very little endearing him to you and little time spent playing as him exacerbating this problem. Ezio is where I found my hook, a brazen lothario who is instantly likable and certain sidequests give you a nice look into Ezio’s personality and history so spending the majority of your time as him is a pleasure.
The look of the game is satisfying from beginning to end with a brilliantly realised Rome filled with good looking characters that are all animated really well, the virtual training world’s look is something you’ll have seen before if you’ve ever played metal gear games but it plays well in the sterile animus setting. The look of Rome is fantastic and beautiful renaissance-era villas give way to gloriously recreated historic ruins though the wide open spaces between the two tend to be quite bland the overall feel is of a living Rome that is a genuine joy to run through and across. the main characters look fantastic, Ezio being the best as I personally found Desmond’s face a little lifeless and waxy looking. There’s not really alot more to say about the visuals, they’re well done but won’t stand out too much bar the virtual interface which is striking if a little vague and confusing at times.
Aside from ocassional occurences of Ezio leaping off into thin air in the opposite direction to which i was pointing him and the thrice damned Leonardo missions I had a fantastic time playing this game. High production values have paid off in an incredibly polished experience that I couldn’t put down and has ensured my purchase of the next game in the series, highly recommended if you enjoyed either of the other games this is the highly refined result and the best in the series yet.
Also, I’d kill for Desmond’s hoodie. Ubiworkshop get to work on it!