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With Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood being released just one year after Assassin's Creed 2, it was a concern how full of a package Ubisoft Montreal could deliver. Would it only add a couple hours of single player experience to fill up some side story? Would it focus all of its strengths on the new multiplayer mode? Was it just going to be a quick cash in off of AC2's success? Gladly and assuringly the answer to all of these questions is no. Brotherhood adds a new, fully fledged story complete with tons of side quests and varied missions. This in addition to the new and innovative multiplayer mode is clear that this is more than just a quick cash in. The game picks up exactly (and I mean EXACTLY) where AC2 left off. It also starts by giving a quick video recap on all the key events from the first two games for those who are new to the series, however for those who didn't play Assassin's Creed 2, they will still likely find themselves confused at times.
The story in Brotherhood, as true to the Assassin's Creed franchise, is delivered in two distinct parts. First you have Desmond's story. This is what the main plot of the series is built around and essentially the stuff you will care most about in the long run. Desmond is once again strapped in to the Animus to try and solve him and his fellow assassins' modern day problems by revealing answers and clues through the eyes of Desmond's ancient ancestor Ezio . Ezio's story is one of redemption and resistance, in which you are fighting to free Rome from the reigns of the corrupt Borgia family. The pacing in the story is truly great and is always good at knowing how to split up the missions during the story arc to leave you satisfied enough to stop, but still wanting more. Once you hit the last two hours however, the game grabs a hold of you and doesn't let go and you will find it impossible to put the controller down.
Fans of Assassin's Creed 2 will be glad to see the return of most of their favourite characters including Ezio and his family, Leonardo Da Vinci, Desmond with his troupe of modern day assassins, and a compelling new antagonist named Cesare Borgia. A lot more time is also spent during the story in getting to better know the other key Assassins and allies that make up the Brotherhood then was done in past games. You can go off and do various side missions for groups such as courtesans or thieves and you truly feel like you are strengthening and rebuilding the Assassin army.
The game is called Brotherhood for a reason and that is that during the game, the player is tasked at rebuilding the damaged brotherhood of Assassins and to bring it back to its true glory. Whenever you wish, you can go out searching for people on the mini-map to recruit that will aid you in your fight. And aid you they will with the help of the new game mechanic that allows you to use recruited Assassins to perform your dirty work. Don't want to blow a hiding spot? Think there are too many guards to take on by yourself? With just a tap of a button, your Assassin brethren will quickly swoop in and take any guards out for you. This gives an incredible sense of power that is truly unique to Brotherhood. Not to mention there is also a whole mini metagame where you can manage all of your assassins and assign them to various contracts and missions across Europe. This is done in a completely optional manner though, so those who don't like fighing their battles through the means of text pages can keep on stabbing dudes in the neck without ever having to worry about it. Whenever you call your assassins to help you or send them on quests, they individually level up and gain experience which you can then use to upgrade them. You have to be careful though, as if you send your assassins on a mission they can't handle, they will be killed and when that happens, they do not come back.
Most of the gameplay in Brotherhood is pretty similar to Assassin's Creed 2, but they do add some other helpful new features. In the first two Assassin's Creeds, the technique that would prove most successful for fighting was to constantly wait for your enemies to attack and to then quickly counter them. Brotherhood has tried to promote some more offensive strategies by adding in a combo system where after a certain number of consecutive hits without interruption, every swing you take initiates an instant kill. When you're in a fight after slashing a guy a couple of times, this mode will activate and you will be able to quickly and easily take out everyone surrounding you. You will never grow tired of the pure feeling of bad-assery this will leave you with after you completely devastate a dozen guards in a mere matter of seconds. There aren't any other big noticeable changes to the gameplay, but the small changes they have made are slick and helpful. These include adding a quick travel system to quickly travel around Rome and expanding the ability of upgrading the city from just your small villa in Assassins Creed 2 to now the actual whole city of Rome.
Then of course there's multiplayer. Before AC: Brotherhood came out, trying to think of how a multiplayer Assassin's Creed game could work would only cause one's head to explode. But somehow they did it, and incredibly well mind you. The main game mode of multiplayer consists of you and 7 other players going around trying to assassinate one another. At all times you have one assassination target that you're hunting after. You spend your time searching around the level for them with a compass that leads you to their general location, while at the same time trying to make sure that no one sneaks up from behind and assassinates you. This creates a unique feeling of paranoia when walking around as you never know who is going to be your assassin. The game tries to promote stealth gameplay by rewarding incognito kills with the most points. This way, people who are just sprinting around trying to be Rambo will likely lose. There also some other team based game modes, but nothing too noteworthy. It is certainly an excellent start to the online aspect of this series and really makes you look forward to how they can add on to it in the next installment.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is at its core an updated Assassin's Creed 2 with a new story and online play. Selling it off as bad because of this though would be doing yourself a huge disservice as although they may be quite similar, Brotherhood changes a wide variety of details and nuances from Assassin's Creed 2 and ends up being an amazing product.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood may be not be leaps and bounds different then Assassin's Creed 2, however it still delivers an amazingly polished game and a great experience which will leave you cursing in italian for more when the credits start to roll.