wess's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (Xbox 360) review

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The best yet - Brotherhood delivers on all fronts

I enjoy the Assassin's Creed games.  I don't love them, but I don't hate them, and I generally think that there are a lot of things that they do well, on top of a lot of things that are maybe not so great.  Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is more or less a continuation of that, but I have to admit that it is one of the most well executed and complete packages that has come out of this monster franchise.
Brotherhood further continues the story of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, everyone's favorite street rat turned assassin in Renaissance Italy.  I say that Brotherhood continues Ezio's story rather than Desmond, who is technically the protagonist of the AC series, because there is very little storytelling from Desmond's viewpoint.  This isn't really a terrible thing, because I've never really cared too much for the modern day characters, but it does make me feel like this whole game is just trying to ride on the success of AC2, and doesn't really fit into the overall plot outside of the final sequences of Brotherhood.  Probably the most frustrating story point for me was the fact that Ezio so quickly seems to forget about the end events of AC2, which I would imagine would have been pretty startling.
Regardless of the reason, in Brotherhood you take control of Ezio yet again as he relocates to Rome, and Rome is where basically all of the game takes place.  The city is vibrant and beautiful of course, and just moving around the city is still fun and simple to execute.  Of course, you start the game as a skillful assassin, and you only gain more abilities as the game progresses.  Brotherhood culminates in Ezio being a veritable whirlwind of death, even more so than in AC2.  This is still mostly due to the difficulty of the AC games, which is laughably easy, but as much as I know that it takes no skill whatsoever it can still be fun to obliterate a group of 20 armed soldiers without breaking a sweat.  Probably the biggest gameplay additions in Brotherhood are the assassin's guild mechanics.  You can recruit new assassin's to your guild and call them to aid you in a fight, and they will level up the more you use them.  They can also level up by you sending them on various missions around Europe, but it won't take you long to have a full guild of max level assassin's, at which point all the leveling mechanics are rendered useless.  It never really gets old to call an assassin on a guard, and watch as your lackey leaps from a rooftop to take down your target.
Brotherhood is not a short game, as it probably ran me 30 or more hours to complete.  Since it is open world in nature, obviously it could be done much faster if you stuck only to plot missions, but I still think it is a sizable adventure with a large cast of characters in a city with many different areas, both obvious and hidden.  The size of the single player adventure and the short time between AC2 and Brotherhood make it all the more impressive that Ubisoft also managed to include a large, functional multiplayer mode that is honestly unlike anything I've ever seen in a video game.  The main mode, called Wanted, puts 8 players in a map full of wandering NPCs and tasks them with tracking a single player target while avoiding anyone who may be hunting them.  It is a clever game of cat and mouse, and players have to decide whether to try and blend in with the NPCs or go for their target quickly.
With a leveling system that gives new abilities, some neat maps, and other modes, the multiplayer is not only robust but is actually quite fun.  I'm very impressed with what they were able to accomplish for a game that does not seem like it would adapt well to multiplayer at all, and am generally pleased with the single player mode, even if it is nothing particularly special or new.  If you are one of the millions who loved Assassin's Creed 2, Brotherhood is probably a must buy, and even if you only kind of enjoyed AC2, Brotherhood is still a fun game and a very complete package.

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