Despite playing through both of the first two Assassin's Creed games, I wouldn't call myself a huge fan. While I respect what Ubisoft is trying to do, I had a hard time falling into love with some of its annoying quirks. Thanks to the emphasis on a new multiplayer mode and the return to 16th Century Italy, I fully expected to have another so-so time with Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. But that isn't the case. I came away from this newest installment reinvigorated and ready for the inevitable Assassin's Creed III.
When I loaded the game up I was ready for a side-story or something inconsequential to the main game's narrative. Boy was I wrong; Brotherhood picks up right where Assassin's Creed II left off. After a brief video recap, we're back to Ezio in Rome collecting the mythical Apple of Eden. He escapes back to Monteriggioni, where he prepares to take some serious time off from his killing ways. He has the money, the woman, and a city of adoring fans, Ezio is at the top of his game.
Sadly, Ezio's happiness is fleeting. Without warning, the peaceful town of Monteriggioni is attacked by Cesare Borgia, the son of Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI). Even with four or five working cannons, our hero's forces were defeated and the town was reduced to rubble. With the townspeople safely fleeing through the secret underground tunnels, Ezio is out for blood. His plan is to move to Rome and set up a brotherhood of assassins, all leading up to taste of sweet revenge.
Confused? Then it's probably because you didn't play Assassin's Creed II. Players that dig into this without going through the first two games will be utterly baffled from beginning to end, even with the tiny recap at the beginning. Newcomers will be even more perplexed by the present day Desmond story happening concurrently with Ezio's adventure. Needless to say, this is not a great starting point for the Assassin's Creed virgins.
However, for anybody who had a great time killing historical figures from the 15th century, Brotherhood is an essential part of the Assassin's Creed story. Thankfully it's more than just a good story, it's also a great playing adventure game full of memorable characters, exciting set-pieces and one huge twist that will have players scratching their heads until all is revealed in Assassin's Creed III. This sequel may not have a number after its name, but it's every bit as important as any other installment.
The gameplay is largely the same, with Ezio using stealth to take down his enemies. He does this by blending in with the large crowds, jumping in hay bales and using the rooftops to plan daring attacks. He's the same killing machine we came to love in Assassin's Creed II, only now he's really pissed off about the destruction of his city. This rage is underscored by the reworked combat mechanic, which rewords players for being aggressive. Gone are the slow and drawn-out battles. In their place are slick fights that look every bit as good as they play. This is the first time I've had fun fighting guards in an Assassin's Creed game.
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