Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood: review

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  • Format: PS3 (version tested), Xbox 360
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Players: 1 (plus multiplayer)
  • Site: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood has been waited on with baited breath this year; some have been saying they expect it to be AC 2.1 with mutiplayer tacked on, but thankfully this is not the case. ACBH picks up exactly where we left AC2, but with Ezio seeing off an attack from the Borgia at his home, which sets this AC’s story in motion and sees us travelling to Rome. Rome is a huge sprawl of rooftops, waterways, tiny lanes and roaming countryside. Because of its size, there’s the option to ride your horse within the city walls. Although not the most graceful or low-key form of travel for an assassin in a pedestrian heavy street, it is still quite liberating being able to bustle plebeians out of your way by riding straight through them. You can also summon your horse at any time wherever you like, with the exception (obviously) of rooftops, flagpole tips, cliff faces etc. We’re told horseshoes don’t have the best grip for scaling towers. Ah yes, towers! There are now “control towers” dotted around the landscape that keep the Borgia influence right in the face of the population. These can be destroyed and reclaimed first by finding the main general of the tower and dispatching him, then climbing and burning the tower to complete the conversion. This adds an extra dimension of strategy, where conversions of these towers will make later missions easier to handle. In fact, strategy plays a large part in almost every aspect of ACBH. The new addition of recruiting assassins to your cause and having them at your beck and call at almost any time means you never have to murder anyone again, but then, where’s the fun in that!?

PhotobucketHaving assassins at your command however comes with responsibilities; firstly you need to train them up, and this involves using carrier pigeons to deliver contracts to each member. The missions they go on are hand picked by you, who will have considered their current abilities, strengths and weaknesses and so on, building them up through the ranks until they reach Assassin. You will also manage their equipment, giving them better weapons and armour – even deciding the colours they wear. Then there’s the combat side of things. Bringing them into fights with you that you can’t handle alone is very useful, but only if they are able to handle it themselves. If you’re up against five or six elite guards and you call in a low level assassin, he/she’s not likely to even last the fight and with their death you’ll be set back to finding and recruiting a new member, and building them up all over again. You can also take on assassin missions yourself if you’re feeling particularly bloodthirsty. Not only this, but there are other guilds to manage with their own missions to sink your blades into.

The Thieves Guild will have you trailing and killing executioners, intercepting passing information or proving your worth in checkpoint races. Then there are the Courtesan Guild missions and a fight club where bare fist fights are done for money. Each of these have certain sub-requirements to meet like “pick 225 pockets” so there’s no shortage of things to do in each guild. There’s also the “Building Rome” meta game which involves restoring and investing in the blacksmiths, art merchants, doctors, tailors, banks, stables and Guild buildings once the Borgia influence has been dealt with. If you still have cash left over from buying shops, armour, weapons, art or poisons you’ll be glad to know you can also purchase large landmarks like the Pantheon or the Colosseum. There are Leonardo missions too, which have been sectioned into parts where the objective is to destroy his war machines in each mission. These will see you dishing out hot cannonball mayhem in a circular tank or bombing Borgia strongholds via flying contraptions of death! There are virtual training modes to hone your skills with, and medals to obtain from each. All of this, on top of the main storyline (and DLC missions) makes the complaint the AC games before “didn’t have much to do in them” sound like a childish whine and we haven’t started talking about the new multiplayer aspect yet!

PhotobucketThe fighting mechanics have had another overhaul too; this time Ezio can be much more aggressive. Instead of waiting for a counter-move to present itself you can build up a chain of kills, so by pulling off a couple of counter moves you can then start attacking with one-hit-kills which leads to you being able to flawlessly take out any number of high ranking guards within minutes. In short, there is no aspect of this game that hasn’t been improved since the last effort, and the results are nothing short of overwhelming; AC 2.1 indeed…

PhotobucketAs for the multiplayer there are various modes including Play Now, Ranked and Private Matches. Wanted Mode (6-8 players) sees you killing Templar targets for high scores; Alliance Mode has you grouped into teams of two for rounds where you kill as many on the opposite side as possible within a time limit. Targets are identified via a small picture in the corner of the screen, and you’re given a compass that shows their direction and distance from you. Red markers show pursuers, and blue markers show secondary targets like other team members. There are 17 playable characters (some unlockable) and additional perks (12 in total) and abilities (8 thereof) to unlock with XP such as better speed, better blending or faster climbing – two of which can be used at a time. There’s a good selection of maps that include places like Firenze, Forli, Roma and Venice, as well as varied custom options for Profile and Personas to (we’re not sure why) stand out from the crowd. If anything Ubisoft Montreal have listened to feedback and given their fans exactly what they’ve asked for, and as a result have infinitely improved AC. Now if only every developer could do that!

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Written by R.Furie

Ross has been playing games since he can remember and has had games machines around him all his life. He's what we now refer to as "Old Skool" because he grew up playing games with a hand carved wooden joystick on a TV forged from rope and stone. Nourished on a diet of Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Joust, Gauntlet, Bomber Jack and other various wholesome arcades he has grown to become a versatile and open minded gamer. Favouring the style of open-world games he's sure VR can't be far away, and looks forward to attaching himself to a colostomy bag and slipping into a deep VR coma so he need never have to deal with real life again.

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