I’ve never played games in the Assassin’s Creed
series before, but I hear Brotherhood
is more of the same in a lot of ways – renovating buildings, embarking on stealth missions, running at walls to see what happens and being a sexy Casanova who gets all the ladies.
The Assassin’s Creed
series revolves around a man named Desmond, who is kidnapped and forced to use the Animus, a device that replays the memories of one’s ancestors. While using the Animus, Desmond experiences the memories of his ancestors, Alta´r and Ezio. Both of his ancestors are assassins, born to save the world from the evil Templars, who are trying to get hold of what is essentially the Holy Grail (which, incidentally, is projected to destroy Earth in 2012 if it gets into the wrong hands).
Sound confusing? Well, that’s because it is. Even after reading all of this, trying to follow the plot in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
was difficult at best. That said, once I got a grasp of the basics – try to save Rome from the Templars because they’re evil, got it – the actual gameplay was really, really fun. The best parts of the campaign are when you have to embark on stealth missions in which you must not be seen, period. It gets nerd-ragingly difficult (I don’t know how many times I repeatedly cried “no” while I ran to get out of someone’s line of sight or fell to my death), but it forced me to come up with new strategies and ways to finish a mission. Sometimes I managed to pass purely with the assistance of Lady Luck.
But enough about the campaign. While it’s very good, it is by no means the best part of the game. I’m a big fan of online multiplayer, despite having to put up with the ravings of teenage boys who think racial slurs are oh-so-edgy, and Brotherhood
is by far the best I have ever played. In fact, I spent so much time playing it that it took me about a month to finish the 12-15 hour campaign.
The aim of the online component is to run around, climb walls and assassinate people stealthily, all while avoiding being assassinated yourself. You have to blend into crowds to avoid other agents, and smoke-bomb them when they get too close for comfort so you can make your escape. There are team-based game types, too, where you alternate between being the hunters and the hunted.
I really wanted to give Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
a platinum rating, but at first I thought I couldn’t. Ubisoft managed to screw up one crucial thing – the online matchmaking system. The PS3 version would often take upwards of five minutes to find a game – the games are only 10 minutes long – and that’s if I wasn’t fussy about which game type I played. If I did happen to want to play Manhunt
as opposed to Wanted
, I could spend 10 minutes sitting there waiting until the search timed out. I asked a friend who has the Xbox 360 version and he said he hadn’t experienced any matchmaking issues, so it may have been exclusive to PS3. Fortunately, the problem has been resolved in a recent update to the game.
Despite that minor annoyance, Brotherhood
is probably my favourite game of the year. It’s less about guns and explosions and more about storytelling and ninjaing all over the place, sometimes to your detriment. More than that, it brought something new and creative to the online multiplayer space, which has long been dominated by first-person shooters. Brotherhood
is one of the few games I can see myself playing long after this review has been sent to the printers.