Games I Like: Assassins Creed Brotherhood
Probably the sweetest part about the series as a whole is its historical fiction. Two main characters you’re interacting with are Leonardo da Vinci and Machiavelli. And you’re running around the coliseum in Rome. Nice! The series is also renown for an impressive continuity between games. For the inquisitive player, there are troves of hidden, secret plotlines to go after and uncover. The overall thrust of the tale is pretty interesting to begin with–it’s a centuries-spanning conspiracy plot about two groups of Illuminati vying to be the power who secretly controls the world.
I’ve played them all and this latest version is the king of the heap. The AC designers have hit their stride and the resulting experience feels more cohesive and polished than ever. Your map is littered with different pursuits to go after, and so far, the game has been set exclusively in Rome, which I’d say is a good thing. I never cared for the wide-open countryside, devoid of things to do. They’ve lowered the number of viewpoints to climb, which is also a good thing. One of the chief complaints about past installments in the series was repetitive gameplay.
There is certainly repetitive gameplay still in here (how many Assassins do I have to recruit?!) but a lot of the repeated elements have been shaken up for variety. Killing the guard commander at a Borgia tower (the main bad guys are called the Borgia) is a challenge you will almost certainly screw up on your first attempt. Each time the setup is slightly different, and you don’t know if he’s going to stand and fight you, or bolt for his panic room at the first sign of trouble. The guy who bolts is actually harder, since he moves quick and you have limited time to get him, with lotsa guards in your face.
The vast majority of the time you’re playing, they turn you loose to explore the city. It’s sandbox action in the 1400s! You can choose what you feel like doing and there’s plenty of options… thief assignments, assassination contracts, shops to renovate, money chests to loot, treasures of Romulus to get, viewpoints to climb, Borgia towers to take over, and so on.
As far as things to complain about, I get very tired of the loading screen, which is a blank empty space that they allow you to run around in. You can at least re-familiarize yourself with the controls while waiting, but there are many places where I wish they played a cool animation instead… for example when you use the secret underground tunnels to get around town, I wish they showed a quick video of Ezio running down the tunnel instead of dumping you into the generic loading screen. And there’s also many missions that have annoying quirks which cause you to die and replay the same section 10 times over because some guard always sees you and you just can’t figure out what they expect you to do.
But loading screens and bang-your-head-against-the-wall sections aside, there’s certainly a lot to explore and love about this latest installment. And as implausible as some of the weapons may seem for their era, I see on Wikipedia that Leonardo actually DID design a tank just like the one in the game! Huh! Well there you have it.