Talk to the hands gentlemen.
I’ve been a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series since I heard that the first game would be set in the ancient middle east. Once I got the game and experienced the setting for the first time I was hooked, and not on the ancient setting. The story of Desmond Miles is much more interesting to me than either Altair or Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, and I had decided that while I liked the AC series, I was probably going to skip Brotherhood due to it’s multiplayer heavy nature and what I assumed would be a lackluster story of Ezio just tacked on.
Boy was I wrong. Brotherhood is just as much a standalone game as Assassin’s Creed II is, even more in some cases. The truth is that they should have called the game Assassin’s Creed III. Sure, it’s still Ezio and the overarching Desmond plot isn’t moved forward as much as I had hoped, but the story was enjoyable and more importantly Brotherhood showed me that they weren’t going to keep the series stale gameplay wise.
While the controls are mostly unchanged from II there are some minor changes, a few major ones, and some multiplayer specific cntrols that I am hoping they port over to the single player campaign. Specifically the targeting control. In the multiplayer you can press the middle mouse button and move your cursor to your target,. When you let go the target will be locked. In the single player game you have to face a target, hope it guesses the right one, then press the lock button. It will then decide to lock on to other enemies for no apparent reason, especially if you are trying to shoot someone with the gun for a 100% sync.
The single most important change between II and Brotherhood is the fact that you are put in charge of recruiting and ‘training’ new assassins. This takes the form of rescuing potential recruits from the Borgia’s men, then inviting them into the Assassin’s Guild. After that you can call them in at any time to help kill your targets, or use them to distract enemies while you get away. Keep an eye on them though as they can be killed. Your other option for getting your recruits more XP is to send them on missions in other cities around Europe. This is mostly a fire and forget scenario but it really drew me in, from the stories to the personalization of each recruit. I had a special recruit who had been with me much longer than the others, so I gave him a nice dye job for his robes.
Eventually your recruits, if you spend enough time on them, will graduate to full on Assassins. This doesn’t mean you can’t use them anymore, in fact they become killing machines that will help you whenever you need them. This is especially helpful when you get in over your head and are surrounded by dozens of guards. There is nothing more satisfying than looking out over a wave of Borgia men, pressing a simple button three times and seeing five badass Assassins come flying down from the rooftops to help eliminate your foes.
The graphics are starting to show their age, though I still couldn’t run it at full settings due to my new interim graphics card being crap. Still, even when I turned the settings to full they weren’t the best, even of console ports. It’s still a pretty game, just not breathtaking like the first Assassin’s Creed was. The sound is still good, just nothing amazing. You won’t be immersed in the setting like you would with a game like Bioshock, but the sound effects and music are still enjoyable enough.
The multiplayer is, next to the Assassin recruits, the breakout of the series. I wish there were more people playing it, as it’s sometimes hard to find a game on the PC, but the gameplay is much more interesting and unique than any other multiplayer I have ever experienced. There is NOTHING like the feeling of being hunted by half the people in the match, and knowing they are closing in, all the while you are trying to find that one person you are hunting. You can slip into a group of NPCs that look like your character, walk around a bit and when one of your hunters tackles the man next to you, you can punch him in the back of the head and knock him out, giving you time to slip away into the crowded streets.
Your kill to death ratio probably won’t be as high in Brotherhood as it would be in say, Black Ops, but it’s more about HOW you kill your target. You’ll get a measly 100 points if you sprint after your target through the crowded streets, but if you manage to blend into a crowd and wait patiently for your target to walk past and stab him without breaking cover you’ll get 500 points, but you need to pay attention to the time left, as well as the people hunting you.
It’s a constant give and take, choosing when to go for your kills, and knowing when your target is going to get away. It also feels amazing once you’ve leveled up enough to get the pistol. Then you can know your target is going to get away and drop all pretense. You can then take them out at range as a last “F You” before they escape over the rooftops.
All in all I think that Brotherhood is by far the best of the series. I hope they include the recruits and multiplayer in Assassin’s Creed III, but even if they don’t all they have to do is continue where Desmond leaves off at the last moments of Brotherhood for me to buy it as soon as it comes to PC.