“Better in the hands of the Earth, than in the hands of man.”
“What can I say? We sent one man against an entire army. I was worried. Quick, climb up. We have to get out of here.”
“You would not believe the things I have seen, Mario.”
“Then be sure to stay alive, that I might hear them.”
“I expect opposition.”
“And I expect the Borgia to mourn the loss of many lives tonight.”
Ezio returns for a second outing in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, the third game in the long-running series. He is now all grown up and a responsible guy, although only after having his estate destroyed by the Borgia. So he travels back to Rome to pry away the city from their corrupt hands as he increases the assassins’ influence on the people.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood’s biggest achievement is that there is so much to do, and the missions so diverse, that you will never get bored playing. Pick any mission from the first area of your choice and four hours later you realise that it’s well past the time that you should have been doing something else.
Rome itself is split into areas. Each area is controlled by the Borgia, the renaissance equivalent of the Templars, eternal enemies of the Assassins. Kill the Borgia tower’s captain and set it up on fire, and you can start taking control of the area. This will also allow you to increase your income, which you will later use at the blacksmith or invest in various cultural improvements.
But that’s not all. If Ezio is going to give Rome back to the people, he is going to do it big time. So he also plans to control the other factions, namely the mercenaries, thieves, and courtesans. Each faction gives Ezio additional options for completing his missions, as well as providing more missions to keep you busy.
There’s more. Ezio’s feather and flag collections, the followers of Romulus underground missions, finding and saving Leonardo da Vinci from imprisonment, Leonardo’s machines missions, not to mention the animus hidden missions. As in the previous games, Ezio’s memories are being re-lived by Desmond, his modern-day descendant through a device called the Animus. Finding hidden symbols as Ezio will allow Desmond to solve puzzles and get access to the Templar conspiracy secrets.
Ezio can also recruit other people into the brotherhood, by saving them from Templar harassment and asking them to join the cause. These novice assassins can then be sent on missions and grow into formidable allies. This also helps to make the game less monotonous as you can just send them to kill guards for you whilst you can concentrate on getting to your destination without interruptions.
There are other additions which make the game’s pace run quicker. You can ride horses almost anywhere within Rome, and if no horse is nearby you can just call one with the press of a button. You can also invest in underground tunnels which can be used to travel between Rome’s districts instantly.
The combat is also improved in Brotherhood with a wider choice of weapons, especially for long-range assassinations. Opponents are wiser than ever, but Ezio has a few tricks up his sleeve as well. Kicks and throws are as effective, if not more so than any of the weapons available to you. These also include the weapons that enemies drop after taking them out.
This, however, results in the worst part of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, where sometimes you end up watching Ezio drop down to his death from the top of a tower when all you wanted to do was to hop to a nearby platform. He also has a tendency to get stuck in some places, or the kick action does not work at the exact moment you need it. These are minor problems though and do not detract from the overall experience of the game.
And finally, there is the main storyline. An interesting one for sure, giving you the opportunity to meet interesting characters from history (and if you are interested in history, the game’s database contains a lot of information). However, the story is not the main highlight of the game, as it is rather short as well. It is the mixture of all the different parts that make Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood shine as a whole.