We are all familiar with the Assassin's Creed series, assuming that we play video games on pretty much any normal platform that's even close to being modern (and yes, I realized that I made that a huge general statement and then minimized it down to a very much smaller group of people). And of course, there is also Revelations out and Assassin's Creed 3 is coming out in October, supposedly. But, I buy them much later than normal people, so I just finished my first playthrough of Brotherhood. And, I also noticed that we didn't have a review posted, so this is a review/retrospectacle of a game that's been out for a little bit!
So, join me... as I once again put on my cape and belted on my throwing knives and headed out into Rome, Italy.
Okay, we'll start with a disclaimer as is my way, of course. I want to point out a couple of things going into this. First of all, I frankly don't care about Assassin's Creed multiplayer, so I played absolutely none of it. Also, while I enjoyed Assassin's Creed 2 a ton, I was not a fan of the first one and only made it about three hours into the game before giving up and moving on to the second one. I just didn't like the repetition of the first game at all, though I enjoyed the idea of it. But anyway... enough of the disclaimers, time to get into this thing!
I entered the game and got hit with some awesome Desmond action instantly. I think it's very interesting that while this game is primarily set in Renaissance Italy, there is still a portion of it which is entirely played out in "modern" times as a random guy. The story-line, which I'm going to stop myself from actually spoiling, has you bouncing back and forth... which works much better than it should. So props to the creators that they were able to so easily mesh the two story-lines together and show you how things were going to work.
One last thing about the story... it's really, really good! I'm a huge fan of fantasy epic novels where the story is spread over the course of many novels (though I'm best at finishing quadrilogies/trilogies) and I think that the writers of this game series are quite good at keeping people interested in the story over multiple episodes. Of course, it helps to have the story rooted in conspiracy theories surrounding the church and Templars. Stories about Templars are always interesting, no?
So, I'll talk for just a second about the game assuming that you haven't played an AC game yet. It's an Action/Adventure game where you play an assassin that goes around and completes missions to rebuild Rome. It has some RPG elements, in the sense that you're working on gaining armor throughout the game and collecting monies to buy better weapons and whatnot. But there's no leveling mechanic as such. It's a very good story game as well, with some awesome free running mechanics and a slightly open world feel without being ridiculously large.
Now that that's out of the way, I'm going to talk to those of us who have played the previous games. I still believe that they're improving on the series. This game is better in many ways than AC2 and I say that with much love for that game. For one thing, I love the fact that you get a new weapon, the Crossbow. That is probably the most amazing weapon in the game, aside from the wrist blades, of course. It allows you to kill quite easily from a distance, while still maintaining the stealth. If you remember the pistol from last game, it always lost you the ability to have stealth, since everyone knew when the gun fired. But the crossbow doesn't make any sound, apparently, and you can run around crossbow-ing people while they have no idea what's going on.
There are of course more things to do in this game, including a whole set of 'quests' which involve you gaining items that different shops need to unlock better armor/weapons. This is entirely new to the series... not only does the general coinage still matter, but also different items that you can acquire from chests and quests now. It's an interesting mechanic and gives you something else to do, if you want to spend your time finding these items so that the different shops will like you more.
I haven't a clue why people buy paintings anymore. Previously, the other game used them to increase the value of your villa which gave you more money, but now they apparently are only decorative money sinks... which I don't really understand. The way to increase you money income this time around is when you renovate shops and whatnot around Rome. Apparently the Borgia have destroyed Rome entirely, which I don't understand either, but you can rebuild it to create yourself some awesome income either way. There are definitely a few things that I don't get that seem almost plot problems, such as the Borgia destroying Rome. Why would they destroy Rome's economy anyway... doesn't make any sense.
And now, to mention the most awesome new thing in the game... Borgia towers. On their own, they provide a neat mini-game where you have to find and assassinate the Captain of that particular tower. Then, when you have these captains dead, you can burn the tower down. Of course, there's a relatively limited number of towers in Rome that you can do this to, but it's good times regardless. The captains will even run away if you are doing too well against their troops, encouraging you to use stealth and get the kill on them before they even have a chance to react.
Once you burn down Borgia towers, not only do you have access to the ability to renovate shops in that area, but you also gain the tower as your very own assassin tower. Now that you have your very own tower, you can recruit people from among the populous to become your assassins of fortune. Once you recruit them (by killing all the guards harassing them of course), then you can send them on missions around Europe to gain you money and gain them experience, which allows them to wear more armor and have better weapons and be more awesome. The longer that they're under your control, the more they grow in strength until you're sending them off to do jobs that are more adult-sized.
Also cool... you can use those assassin recruits to kill your enemies if they're not off on missions. By choosing a target and making the signal, one of your recruits will run in and drop the targeted individual to the floor with some awesome moves. So overall... you're actually the leader of a real Brotherhood which you can order around and yell at when things go wrong. It's fantastic... and makes a great "get out of jail free" card if you're in a dire spot. Definitely one of the coolest additions to the game, in my opinion.
Now, as far as negative things to say about the game, they're relatively small, I suppose. But I will point out that I finished the game in about 18 hours (which included some idle time while I was waiting for revenue to come in from my investments). Of course, this doesn't include 100% of the stuff in the game, as I didn't make a point of collecting the flags or feathers or finishing all the sidequests. I didn't even completely rebuild Rome... but it's still the end of the story and as far as I could tell, I couldn't go back to Rome at the end of the story. I would have to start all over to be able to play more in Rome once I got to a certain point in the story, which I didn't like at all... especially since there was no warning. It seemed short for a 60$ game... though if you were to play the online stuff you could make it last longer, without a doubt. I bought it on a Steam sale, of course, for like... 5$... so it was perfect for the investment that I made.
It's a great game and I would definitely recommend it to AC fans, because it's a fantastic continuation to the story, the game, and every part of the atmosphere. Just keep in mind the single player stuff can be quite short and you're going to have to be aware of that before you make the investment.
Final Grade: A
Get it! Play it! And Stab your Enemies!!!!