I am on a bit of a learning curve with the website and finally found the "introduction" pages to sort through my questions with site navigation.  Therefore, my first review is in the wrong section on my own little blogging island, due to my low member level, but I will try this again.  I entered my GI magazine subscription in my profile to bump my blog attempts but that had no effect so I will go the old fashioned route of leveling up. 

While Assassin's Creed: Revelations was just released, I am reviewing AC: Brotherhood because I just completed the game in order to play AC: Revelations.  As I repeatedly reference, I only reentered gaming last spring with an Xbox 360 and since that time I played through all of the AC games to prepare for the release of Revelations this fall.  I am relishing the exercise of writing about gaming thus I am reviewing AC: Brotherhood while the game is fresh in my mind and will review AC: Revelations after my play through.

The AC franchise is heavily story based, perhaps only rivaled currently by Mass Effect, and both franchises explore how to meld a complex narrative into engaging gameplay.  From the first game in AC the constantly twisting story is its own impetus for the gamer to see the game through.  In a rare beginning, AC: Brotherhood begins exactly where AC:2 ended because of the imperative link to the narrative.  The ensuing introductory sequences skillfully combine story and gameplay to interweave the dual stories of Desmond Miles and Ezio de Firenze.

Once again, the hunt is on amongst the Assassins and the Templars for a piece of Eden while we, the masses, remain woefully unaware of the battle for our minds and quality of life.  In this single minded pursuit to save the world Ezio can only woe women while wearing a mask and Desmond never takes off his messenger bag.  The price heroes pay. 

Ezio travels to Renassiance Rome and he is now able to establish a Brotherhood of recruited assassins who assassinate targets on his signal.  While these new allies are essentially another tool in Ezio's utility belt for meting out death to those deserving, much like the previous addition of the crossbow, signaling for a young assassin to strike down my enemy from afar only increased my sensation of being a master assassin.  Combat as a whole is enriched with a one hit, one kill execution style series of deaths amongst a crowd of guards but requires patience to master. The leveling up system for the assassins in which your recruits are sent on missions across Europe for experience, money, and items initially requires strategic thinking but is easy to grasp and complete.  In tandem with recruitment Ezio is tasked with freeing Rome from the Borgia family's influence by taking over towers in each district.  After a district is freed Ezio is able to invest in the local shops in order in efforts to eventually restore Rome from the decay of Borgia greed.  The economic system is much improved.  While the economy will eventually break, you will have more money than you can possibly spend, it will be intact for the majority of the game. 

As a sandbox game, there are a multitude of available side quests that range from great to good.  Relative to the side quests the main story arc is short but each sequence is strong.  Due to spending most of your time in side quests the gameplay overall plays like a series of short stories that are based on a central theme.  The tie-ins make sense until you describe the game to a friend and try to explain that the assassin recruitment is triggered when you free a district from their Borgia tower then the recruits can earn items on their mission that you take to shops to unlock items.  Meanwhile different factions have their own series of side quests.  Plus you can now strive towards "100% synch" in all missions in which the mission is completed according to certain parameters such as to complete the assassination with the hidden blade or without being detected.  Honestly, I attempted the "100% synch" until the requirements became so difficult that I preferred to progress the story rather than languish over completing the sequence in 8 minutes.  I attained "100% synch" when I could and finished the game with 70% at "100% synch."  I am excited to jump back in to reattempt my failed tries.