Assassin’s Creed is a lot like mudcake. Everyone salivates at the thought of a few slices, but the more you indulge in one sitting, the more you feel like you’re starting to get sick of a good thing. Welcome to Brotherhood, the quasi-sequel to the stellar Assassin’s Creed 2, one of a select few games that can claim the illustrious title of being significantly better than its predecessor. AC:B continues to carry the torch for the series, while finally providing the much anticipated addition of multiplayer.
The game picks up roughly where AC2 left off, where you’re parachuted back into the schizophrenic boots (sneakers?) of Desmond Miles. Having escaped from the hands of the templar at the end of AC2, Desmond finds himself bunkering down with other assassins under some ruins. It’s there that you slide back into the digital history of Ezio Auditore, back in Rome, 1499.
If you’re a big fan of the original story, you’ll enjoy the ride. Frankly, I found the single-player to be entertaining, but it didn’t feel like it brought anything new to the party. While rebuilding Rome, (in a similar fashion to “renovating” Monteriggoni in AC2, but on a much larger scale) is fun, I found the tower quest system became repetitive after a while. One of the big complaints I had with AC2 was that the world didn’t seem to react to your actions, and everything could be re-done if you screwed up. Nothing has changed here.
That said, there have been significant improvements to the combat system. It’s much tighter, provides more opportunities to sling together slick looking combos and allows for much more accuracy during target selection. You can also band together a posse of recruits, although I felt like it defeated the purpose; I don’t need a group of fellow assassins to do the jobs I can easily complete on my own.
What should grab your attention, though, is the stellar multiplayer mode. There are various match types, ranging from simple free-for-all, to a mode like “Wanted”, which finds players hunting each other down and completing assassinations. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, and easily the best part of the game. Keeping yourself nondescript and part of the environment is imperative, where in single-player you can get away with breaking cover occasionally, online it’s likely to find you with a knife in the back.
The PC version of the game is almost identical to the console versions, although all of the currently available DLC is included on the disc. I have to applaud Ubisoft for this, considering the PC version is also cheaper, both on Steam and in stores. But what is
different though is the enhanced clarity of the graphics; shadows and lighting effects look brilliant, and if you’re lucky enough to have a beefy box, a higher frame-rate, resolution options and AA are the reward.
Although Ubisoft have made a concerted effort to improve the PC Keyboard controls, AC really doesn’t lend itself well to the configuration. The game is geared to utilise every button on the console controller, thus being forced to hold “Shift, Space and Left Click” to free run across the rooftops feels clumsy. Even a basic chase through the streets of Rome becomes a marathon effort in multitasking as you attempt keep track of the context sensitive menu, switching from movement to combat.
If you have a USB controller available, I can’t recommend this option enough. Whether the pad is 360 or PS3, the game supports the native control systems of both consoles, and it makes the game significantly more playable. It’s a shame, since mouse look generally allows for improved accuracy, but the finger twisting control setup removes any advantage the keyboard and mouse has over the controller.
If you’re an Assassins Creed fan and have been holding out for the PC version, you won’t leave disappointed. While the default control system leaves something to be desired, the improved graphics, lower price and bundled DLC make this an easy purchase for those looking to finish the journey they began in AC2.