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Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Before I actually played Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, I had my doubts about it. It has only been a year since the terrific Assassin’s Creed II, so how could Ubisoft have put together a whole new experience for this franchise that’s built on intricate plots and historical environments? Plus, all the marketing hinted that Brotherhood was mainly a multiplayer game with a tacked on story that could have just been DLC for Assassin’s Creed II. Well, it turns that that while Brotherhood feels more like an expansion pack than Assassin’s Creed III, it is also a totally worthwhile experience that fans of the franchise should pick up immediately.

The story mode is substantial, picking up Desmond and Ezio’s stories where they left off. Desmond and the motley crew of assassins set up shop in a familiar Italian environment as they plunge deeper into Desmond’s mind, looking for the Apple of Eden that Ezio has hidden. So we learn that after the end of Assassin’s Creed II, Ezio is forced to return to Rome to take down the Borgia family once and for all. All your favorite characters from the previous game return as Ezio builds up a resistance in the hopes of freeing the city.

This leads to my favorite new game mechanic: recruits. Ezio can’t do it all alone, so this time around you can help rebellious citizens learn the ways of the assassin. After you save an individual you can call upon them to help you in battle or send them off on contracts all over Europe. They gain experience and you can level them up and customize their appearance too. But the best part is when you call them out to assassinate targets. You just lock on to a target and whistle and one of your people will pop out of nowhere and end that dude. It’s really fun to watch and a great addition.

The town upgrading mechanic has made the transition to Rome, tasking you with reopening shops and restoring landmarks to increase your income. It feels a lot like Fable II, you just run around finding places you can buy and investing in them. There are blacksmiths, art dealers, tailors, banks and even sewer entrances (which serve as fast travel hubs) for you to dump your money into. The shops have quests now too, although they simply ask you to bring them items to unlock new equipment.

Fighting groups of enemies has been improved as well. Ubisoft has given you the ability to combo kills, basically when you counter an enemy you can leap to the next one for an instant kill. This makes Ezio look like a complete badass and addresses the most common complaint in the franchise: lengthy battles. However, the platforming controls still aren’t perfect and I found myself jumping off target a bit too frequently.

Multiplayer is the biggest new addition, and it’s pretty cool. Instead of trying to insert the traditional multiplayer modes, Ubisoft made having multiple assassins work. When you spawn, you’re given a target to assassinate and all you have to do is kill that bitch to increase your score. Of course, you’re someone else’s target too, so at any moment someone could pop out of the crowd and put a knife in your belly. It’s pretty cool and more fun than I would have expected, since I figured multiplayer Assassin’s Creed straight up wouldn’t work.

The multiplayer is substantial enough that you could play it for a while. The singleplayer story is compelling on its own, but the sheer number of sidequests crammed into Rome make it amazing. This isn’t an amazing step forward from Assassin’s Creed II, but it is a lot of fun. Trust me, take this leap of faith.

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