When in Rome: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood single player

When initial reviews started flooding in, all doubt was removed from my mind.  This game was big.  Previously I wasn’t so sure exactly where Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood fitted within the series as in all honesty after Assassin’s Creed II, I had come to expect the next instalment to be ‘Assassin’s Creed III’.

Well, all as you need to know is that Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is the next full featured instalment in the thrilling saga, with no half measures.  Brotherhood continues Ezio’s story, rather than jumping to another ancestor and time period like you would expect with a number ‘III’.

This much is made clear with the story you’re immediately thrust into, taking place shortly after Assassin’s Creed II.  I’m not really a big fan of giving away spoilers, so I won’t; your best bet for juicy plot details is probably Wikipedia.  For the most part, the plot was totally engrossing but I can’t really say that I understand the rather rushed ending, and I await the real Assassin’s Creed III to fill me in on what on earth’s going on.

Location, location, location

As for location, whilst you mainly stay within Rome for the vast majority of this adventure it’s so huge and varied that it’s a moot point.  If there’s only one thing that annoys me about Rome though, it’s the cliffs.  I hate them.  You’re after the next starting point for a mission or some loot, and you find out it’s at the top of a freaking-huge cliff that you can’t climb, but rather have to go round until you find a road up it.

What has really struck me about Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood though, is that it looks and feels like an RPG more than ever.  There’s talk of ‘quests’, you can do any side missions whenever you want, and now you can complete any missions with varying levels of ‘sync’.  Gone are the days when you would complete a memory sequence and get full sync with your ancestor.  Now you’ve got to complete additional requirements on each mission to achieve 100% sync, like throwing a guard into some scaffolding, or completing a memory within a time limit.  It’s totally optional though.

Plenty of depth

The controls are great, with the gameplay when fighting guards being slightly reworked to favour offensive strikes rather than playing cautious and always waiting for them to strike first.  New ‘killstreak’ animations, weapons such as the crossbow, and the ability to throw your sword through the air is particularly satisfying.

On top of the meatier gameplay, there are plenty of additional missions and challenges available to Ezio.  You can root out Templar agents, help the courtesans, challenge the thieves guild, and deal with all the other factions present.  PS3 owners can also play through additional ‘Copernico’ missions.

What really struck me though, was the emotional depth achieved through the additional back story given to Ezio as part of the Cristina missions.  They are flashbacks of Ezio’s relationship with Cristina that mainly took place during the timeline of Assassin’s Creed II.  Whatever happens in the next game, more of this is needed.

How long’s a piece of string?

As for whether Brotherhood is significantly shorter than it’s predecessor, well, it’s definitely shorter, but not by much.  I have completed the main story mode with a smattering of side missions in about 16 hours.  100% completion in AC II totalled a good 30 hours.  To achieve the same in Brotherhood I’m estimating around 20 hours as a ballpark figure.  So that gives you a game 2/3 the size as its predecessor.

But as I say, that’s just a rough approximation.  Don’t forget however, that that’s just the single player component.  Once you start with the multiplayer, well, then you’ve got a full-sized game with plenty of gameplay in its own right.  I’ve dipped my toes in the multiplayer, but won’t be writing any thoughts on it until I’ve played some more of it.

My verdict?  A must-play for any Assassin’s Creed fan.

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