So it's been a while since I've reviewed a game and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood just came out for the PC so I sat down, took some screenshots and wrote down my thoughts.
The game takes place directly after Assassin's Creed II. So if you haven't played that one then you're probably going to be lost for the most part at the beginning. It does an okay job of bringing us back up to speed with the overall story which is great.
You start out as any hero would after saving the world. You go around doing mundane things, helping old ladies cross the street and bringing the groceries home for the local hottie. Then everything goes to shit, as I guess it had to.
By a very common trope you're stripped of your earnings and worldly possessions when the now-bustling village you built in AC2 gets attacked by the Pope's son. What a jerk.
The game takes place in Rome. Just one city, unlike the previous games that would take place in a few different cities with a rather boring overworld to get between them. Personally I kind of liked only being in one city. It made it easier to get around and you very quickly learn the landscape.
Unfortunately after a few missions you start to realise the developers really haven't learned from the issues of their previous games.
Just like every other Assassin Creed game, there's just four buttons. That means you get one key to do fifty different things. Thanks, consoles!
Pressing shift may at any time, often disregarding whether you're in high profile mode or not:
- Climb the nearest building
- Hop on the nearest platform/fence
- Push somebody
- Tackle somebody
- Grab somebody
- Pick up a weapon
- Pick up a dead body
- Try and loot a dead body
- Climb on a horse
It's really a game of dice to see what your character's going to do. This gets very old very quickly.
You're SOL if you want to hop on a horse if you're standing in a field of the recently deceased. There are guards coming at you and all you want to do is high tail it out of there, yet all you can do is pick up dead bodies. Oh the woes of being an assassin.
The camera locks into place when you're in the process of climbing up on to a platform so it breaks any fluidity, since you need to wait for the animation to stop before you can look around for the next platform to hop to. If you try and create a fluid run you really only end up on walls you didn't want to go up or falling on to a street you really weren't aiming for.
Similarly you can't move your mouse through walls. This makes navigating tight corners very slow and painful. Lots of running in to walls and tripping over because I can't see where I'm going. I'm using the keyboard so the only directions I can go is up down left and right and they are all relative to where the mouse is looking, which would be great if I could move the mouse. If I need to move south west and the camera is locked in to place I need to stagger left and down until I can move freely again.
Several times I've had a target locked on and tried to assassinate them only for Ezio to turn around and take out two completely innocent civilians for apparently no reason what so ever. Sometimes you'll leap at your target and take him out, sometimes you'll just kill some civilians.
Jumping distances are thoroughly inconsistent. Sometimes you'll jump massive distances and make it, other times you'll jump a substantially less distance and your character will fail and fall down. I have a feeling this is mostly due to poorly made scripted jumps though. Most of the big ones you can do (in game, not in a cutscene) are done during the core missions. There are quite a few times I've stood and looked around for another way to go because there was no way I'm going to make this jump they want me to do. I know for a fact I've fallen down from smaller distances. In the end I just guess they want me to go that way so I jump and some how miraculously make it.
The most recent example of this is during one of the Leonardo missions I was able to jump an enormous gap between two buildings that had wooden beams poking out between them. I thought for sure I was going to fall down and die but miraculously made it. Straight after that in a Romulus temple I fell down jumping from one chandelier to another. Even though it looked like they were a lot closer than the two beams I jumped between earlier.
Other times simple little jumps just won't happen. For example if I'm sitting on a broken wall of a house and there's a platform below me, no amount or combination of keypresses will get me from where I am to where I want to go. I either need to leap off completely missing my target, tackle somebody or slowly climb down and hop along the pokey-outey bricks to get over there.
All of the standard Assassin's Creed failures that have been around since the first game, and that you'd think they'd iron out by the third game. If you enjoyed the first two games and you didn't mind these issues, you're really going to like this one.
There are some pretty cool new features though.
You also now have assassin recruits you can train and call in for support at any time. High level assassins are awesome, and watching them come out of nowhere and take out a group of guards is immensely satisfying.
Hiring a group of mercs and travelling the country-side sicking them on guard patrols is amazingly fun. That are very good fighters too, so hiring a group can often lead to upwards of an hour of killing.
You can now call your horse who will magically appear nearby and crush any civilians that gets between you and itself. I called mine Epona. You can ride your horse throughout Rome and it's a quick way to get around. I'm not sure about everyone else but I specifically went out of my way to run over civilians when I was on my horse.
I'm not sure if it was in AC2, but smoke bombs are fantastic as well. One assassination mission I was perched on a tall column watching the target below chatting with some guards. I threw a smoke bomb at him, dove down and took him out with my hidden blade, stole a horse and took off. The guards had no idea what happened and I didn't get any notoriety. It was so cool.
There are tonnes of missions to do as well, which is great. I think they really learned their lesson from the bad press the got for AC1, for it's lack of missions and mission types. I've been playing for about a week and still have a map full of mission markers.
Like AC2 you can purchase buildings. Instead of just purchasing some buildings in your villiage, you can now purchase a whole bunch of buildings, shops and landmarks located all over Rome. One of the building types you can purchase is a tunnel entrance. You can find several tunnel entrances throughout Rome and when you've purchased them they serve as a quick-travel location.
Instead of just having look out towers to synchronise the map with, you now also have Borgia towers. These towers have varying areas of influence around them that prevent you from purchasing any buildings in the area. For each tower there is a Borgia captain. Once you kill him you're able to burn that mother down and release the area from the evil Borgian presence. Once liberated the tower that miraculously survived the burnination now turns in to a place where you can manage your assassins.
Not only are there Templar lairs, there are now also Romulan crypts, housing the creepy wolf-skin-wearing Followers of Romulus. Beating all six will unlock an equally creepy new armour set for your lovable little assassin.
Getting to free-play as Desmond in the real world was fun as well. There are a few things you can find outside of the Animus, but for the most part it's an empty sandbox that while cool gets pretty boring.
There's a new Virtual Training mode which I enjoyed. A very Metal Gear Solid VR Training-esque mode that you can use to practice your killing and maiming like any normal person would.
All in all I think the game is highly enjoyable. It has some great new features, a quality story with some much more interesting modern-day chapters than the previous games. The issues I've mentioned are the same issues found in both previous games so if you didn't notice the issues with Assassin's Creed or Assassin's Creed II, or you simply didn't think they were a big deal then you are absolutely going to love this game.
Now enjoy a whole bunch of random screenshots I took while playing: