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I played this during my exam revision week and now I can't stop crying
Coming from someone who hates Sonic games, this is the best Sonic games
Why does this game like to reference Mario Bros so much ?
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood may as well be the first AC game, as it is the first to fully deliver on the formula introduced two games prior. Ubisoft finally realised that you didn't have to make a game with 70 synchronization points for it to feel substantial, much to the contrary. There is a reduced sense of scale in this opus, which is very welcome as Ubisoft's ambition in the first two games came to the detriment of the quality of the game. Simply put, Brotherhood gives the player what the first two games failed to: a solid gameplay foundation which can be exploited in a bigger scale sequel.
The biggest and most welcome change is the tweaked combat system, which feels closer than the one in the original assassin's creed than the one in Ezio's first game, which was a bold but good choice. You can now oneshot every enemy in the game thanks to the kill streak mechanic, where after executing one enemy you can just execute another by simply aiming for him and pressing square. Dies this make the game overly simple ? Yes. Is that a bad thing ? That's up for you to decide, but I personnaly enjoyed it as it speeds up the combat, allows you to be way more agressive than in the prior games where you were just waiting for someone to attack you and pary them, and generally contributes to the cool factor of the game (and you should never forget understimate how important the cool factor is to the AC franchise) as you'll be chopping down multiple enemies in the span of a few seconds.
As for activites, they are even better here than what they were in AC II, which is a high praise as that game had a lot of very good side quests. The romulus lairs vary from ok to amazing, the templar agents mission are more interesting than the assassination contracts as they at least give you a bit of context, and the Leonardo machines are pretty rad as they offer a nice change of pace gameplay-wise (even though said machines don't always control well). It's a shame that the main quests are a bit too trailing-mission heavy, but I think their overall quality is higher than previous games. The brotherhood system is a treat, calling assassin's in is amazingly cool and seeing them level up was surprisingly enjoyable. The number of sync points going down to 24 is a god send, and the borgia towers add a bit of fun to said sync points and aren't all that annoying to do (and thank goodness there's only like 10 or 12 of them)
I find it odd, but I didn't necessarily enjoy the setting all that much. Even though Ubisoft made the good choice of reducing the size of the map and only giving you one city to explore, it doesn't feel as polished as Florence was in the first game, despite the latter having to be developped simultaneously to four other towns. Movement wasn't as enjoyable in this game, despire better climbing speed, as I found myself often running out of rooftops. Over half the map is contryside with no rooftops to parkour on (which is a shame in itslef, even though the scenery can be quite enjoyable), where you are pretty much forced to take a horse, but the horses are ridiculously slow. Getting around was not that much fun sadly, and I thank God for Ubisoft introducing a more widely available fast travel system. Renovating Rome was pretty cool though, but I think I prefered the Villa, as your progress there was more visible. Renovating Rome doesn't really change anything, it just makes more shops available. Also, I find it weird that renovating monuments (which cost between 20 000 and 35 000 florins compared to the usual 1 000 florins for a shop) barely gets you any money. Monuments are a cash waste, and renovating them doesn't even rebulid them or anything : it does nothing. The idea of owning the Coloseum or the Pantheon is so cool on paper, it's a shame that they didn't offer more with it, like maybe offering special events inside the monuments (like a combat challenge in the coloseum for example).
The story of the game is basic but it works. The whole "take back Rome" gimmick is done very well here, as every gameplay system and storyline feels focused on that, so when you eventually drive out the Borgia, it feels satisfying. I do find it a bit of a shame that Rodrigo Borgia is completely thrown aside for Cesare, who is a good villain, but Rodrigo was the f'in devil in the first game and I feel like he deserved a better send off. The game also leaves the whole Templar vs Assassin thing aside in favour of it being Borgia VS Assasin, which I'm not mad at. By that I mean that Cesare more so wants Italy for himself rather than the templar organization, and given the character, that's not too surprising that he would use the templar funds and power for his own personal gain. As for the supporting cast, I really enjoyed them. AC II already had a great cast, but Brotherhood really develops on those who haven't had that much time to shine in II, which is a welcome choice. La Volpe, Machiavelli and Claudia Auditore are prominent here, and all get their own little arcs. I also really enjoyed the game's protrayal of all that Ezio has given up for his Assassin life, through the Cristina missions and through the dialogue with his sister especially. It adds depth to a character who didn't need it in a standalone game, where his charisma was sufficient, but if they were going to make a trilogy out of him, he definitely needed it.
On performance, the game did have a lot of glitches : guards who saw me even though I was out of their line of sight, clunky platforming, full synchronization that wasn't granted to me even though I clearly fulfilled the objective... It's a shame, but it wasn't game breaking or anything.
Brotherhood feels like the game AC II could've been, and shows a positive step for Ubisoft. I'm surprised by their choice to go for a restricted scale, which really helped the game. With the first two games (and with most of their modern games from what I hear) Ubisoft wanted too much too quick, packing a lot of content in but not backing it up with a strong enough basis. With Brotherhood, Ubisoft made the choice to take their time and make sure that the game would be fun, even if shorter and less impressive than its predecessors. The sheer scale of AC II is really impressive for a game that came out in 2009, but I much prefer the reduced scale of Brotherhood which made the bold choice to pull the brakes and make sure that they got the gameplay right. It's a shame that, 13 years later, we are now stuck with a Ubisoft that has gone back on their choice and are now in an arms race to build the biggest and the most impressive worlds, forgetting that they are making video games and not VR reconstitutions of worlds (which they excell at). Please Ubisoft, have a Brotherhood moment where you rebuild a strong gameplay-base first and only after build a big world.