Ezio is back and this time heís bringing friends to the party!
Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood has had a short development cycle compared to most games, just around a year. In that year however you might have expected, even like me that they couldnít do much with the formula from Assassinís Creed 2 or even make the game better than the previous. I was wrong, very wrong. Now before you start thinking that this is some high priced DLC, let me get right down to the point Ė it isnít.
Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood, should have been called, Assassinís Creed 2: Brotherhood because it picks up right after 2. Iím not going to tell you a thing about the story other than its better realised and told than it was in 2. Iím going into a total lockdown about story events in this one because Iíve seen a few reviews already and they have spoiled some of it for a lot of people.Gameplay
What I want to really concentrate on is how this game differs from 2, yet remains the same core experience that Assassinís Creed 2 brought to the table. Brotherhood manages to refine the systems that were introduced in 2 and add a tonne of new content to the mix, not only that Ė it does it nigh-on flawlessly too. So if you canít be bothered to read the review, the score reflects that. Itís nearly perfect and thatís something Ubisoftís core dev-team for Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood can be proud of right there.
The same traversal mechanic remains from Assassinís Creed 2, only itís been smoothed out and seems a lot more responsive this time around. There are key differences in the buildings though, the level/architecture design team have gotten a lot better in their puzzle-based viewpoint tower design for instance, with multiple routes of entry to many of the towers...and plenty of dead end climb spots to make you think. Parkour is a lot of fun in this game, even more so than Assassinís Creed 2 and with the design of Rome you can expect to spend hours just clambering over some amazing buildings.
Talking of Rome, itís huge and not to give the game away, thereís more than just Rome in Brotherhood. It isnít just set in the city or in Ezioís memories but thatís as far as Iím going to go with that one. Ubisoft have spent so much time adding new content, designing interesting multi-stage missions and even side memories that itís going to be hard to keep track of everything for the review. So Iím going to touch on the most salient points of the game and leave a few things for you to discover.
Rome is in one hell of a state since the Borgia have taken over, the people are oppressed and the streets are in disrepair, many of the great monuments are broken husks of their former glory. Thankfully Ezio can spend his personal bank gained from various missions, treasure chests, trade item sales and other means to renovate a lot of the city.
Starting with the stables you quickly move to renovate shops and other locations around Rome. The more shops you renovate, the more Romeís economy improves and gains you a nice sum of Florins every 20 minutes of real time. If you go to a bank (donít forget to renovate the bank too) you take withdraw the money. Itís very similar to the system that was in Assassinís Creed 2 and your own private city/villa of Montegerroni.
Shops gain access to new items based on the cityís economy and your place in the story. As per usual some locations are locked down using the memory system of the Animus and you canít access them until you get further on in a particular part of Ezioís life. Shops also now have Quests that require you to collect a certain number of trade items before you can unlock a specific item for sale in the shop itself. Trade items can be found on the bodies of the guards and bandits, as well as in chests and other locations.
You can only renovate shops in areas that are free from Borgia control, and to free them you must assassinate the Borgia captain that governs the area. No two captains are the same and they all have differing personalities and conditions, some are highly paranoid and will run like hell if they so much as work out youíre around. Others will stand and fight and never back down. In some cases if the tower is part of a Memory, you can have an additional condition attached to achieve 100% Synch and unlock bonuses and even repressed memories in the Animus.
Some of these conditions might be: donít get hit, throw the captain into a scaffold to kill him and do x in y amount of time.
These can also apply to core memories as well as side memories. Thereís a lot to do in this game, to reiterate Ė it is huge. The core story will take around 15 hours if you rush through it, if you take your time and explore, you can extend this by a significant amount. This isnít a rush job of a game.
Once you kill the captain you can ignite the Borgia Tower and free the area from the influence of these tyrants. Shops and other locations become unlocked; you can renovate them and improve Rome. The more you improve it, the more Florins youíll get per 20m. No two Borgia Towers are the same and youíll have to work out just how to climb them to get to the top.
They act rather like Viewpoints (which are also back, they have the same mechanic too) and count towards the total number that you can synchronise.
There are side missions galore in the game; they arenít one off missions either. They are usually quite unexpected and provide extra money and valuable insight into the story. You can renovate the 3 core faction buildings.
Courtesans, Mercenaries and Thieves Ė once you have these you can then begin to assign a faction to an empty building in Rome and theyíll appear close to that location. Not only that but you can get Courtesan missions and more from the 3 factions. There are even challenges that you can do to improve your standing in the faction, such as ... assassinate x guards from hiding spots and so on.
As I said, thereís a LOT to do in the game.