When you see a development studio take a series to a yearly release, you almost expect the quality to drop. When Ubisoft Montreal released Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood almost a year to the day after Assassin’s Creed 2, this was a worry. Though it turns out as unnecessary, as gamers often consider Brotherhood as one of the best games in the series.
Continuing the story of Assassin’s Creed 2, Brotherhood makes advancements on just about everything that came before. Side characters that we don’t see much of in 2 make bigger splashes within Brotherhood. And the combat allows for quicker and more fluid battles.
The story of Assassin’s Creed is set within two different time periods, giving us two sets of characters. The modern-day story is anchored by four characters, all of whom return from Assassin’s Creed 2. Desmond, Lucy, Shawn, and Rebecca are a group of Assassins on the run from The Templar Order.
As you interact with Lucy our leader, Shawn our historian, Rebecca our engineer, and Desmond, our point of view, you’ll see that although the time you get with them is optional it’s worth it.
Desmond is also the Animus pilot that relives the life of Ezio Auditore da Firenze during his time in Rome.
In addition to Ezio, Bartolomeo d’Alviano, La Volpe, Niccolò Machiavelli and Ezio’s sister, Claudia, return and all have a more significant role in the story. Also returning, though in smaller roles, is his mother Maria, his uncle, Mario, and potential love interest, Catarina Sforza.
When you look at Ezio’s time in Rome, most of his problems were from Pope Alexander IV’s son, Cesare Borgia. Cesare was joined in his plans by Juan Borgia, Octavian de Valois, and Micheletto Corella. The last two characters that we see in Brotherhood are Cesare’s father and his sister, Lucrezia.
We don’t see the Pope much outside of establishing that he hasn’t changed from Assassin’s Creed 2. The other characters are not so lucky with their development.
Cesare’s underlings have little to no development of their own, and we see them as nothing more than plot points. Cesare and Lucrezia have the most character development within the story, with both starting out confident and boisterous.
But when things start to go south for their family, they revert to their essential character traits. Unfortunately, these traits revolve around being spoiled brats. Inevitably this makes Cesare Borgia a paper thin villain.
The modern-day story of Desmond takes place days after the ending of Assassin’s Creed 2. This puts us right at the end of September 2012. After their rush exit from the safehouse in the last game, our band of assassins find themselves at Ezio’s family villa in Monteriggioni.
The bulk of the story, though, starts minutes after Ezio’s defeat of Rodrigo Borgia and continues to the Siege of Viana. These two events date our time with Ezio between December 1499 and March 1507. And while we do see Monteriggioni and Viana, the story mainly takes place inside the city of Rome.
The setting is a vast change from previous titles. While the first and second games would explore four cities, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is the first in the series that would focus on a single city. This allowed the development team to put the game together in a shorter time, and grow the city to be larger than any one city that came before.
Using Rome as the first place to do this was an intelligent move with its centuries of history and the historic buildings like the Colosseum and the Sistine Chapel.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood takes Assassin’s Creed 2 and builds on it. It boasts a larger city and ability to build the Assassin’s Brotherhood as two main draws. At the same time, combat is easier with the addition of kill-streaks.
With easier combat, paper-thin villains, and more side content than main story missions, I have a hard time saying this game is better than Assassin’s Creed 2. Even so, there are a lot of lists that put Brotherhood as one of the best games in the series. I recommend it for fans of not only Assassin’s Creed but action adventure games in general.