Assassin's Creed Brotherhood picks up where Assassin's Creed 2 ends. The player follows the duel storylines of Ezio and Desmond as the two make their way through Ezio's memories. The story is fairly linear, more so than the previous games seemed. Ezio watches as the empire he built in the previous game is destroyed and goes about establishing himself in Rome.

There is little new in the combat, but the controls were more fluid than I remember them to be. Speed races were especially challenging given the delicacy of the controls; the thief missions were particularly frustrating. I continue to struggle with climbing and found it realistic, but also annoying that the AI would throw things at Ezio as you tried to escape. Despite my own deficiencies, I felt the controls continue to improve on this annual release.

The graphics are outstanding, when they stay in focus. I had major frame rate issues and when missions were completed, the burn back into the game threw everything off. There were countless instances where Ezio disappeared into a white silhouette. I also noticed backgrounds flowing in and out of focus that had nothing to do with the environment or story. While I loved what I saw, the inconsistencies were apparent throughout.

The music was light and subtle at times, but as I listened to it again during the credits (I feel you have to watch the credits after completing a game), I did feel like I heard it for the first time. The way the story, music and graphics blended throughout the game made the entire experience seamless.

Story in the Assassin's Creed series is often a mixed bag. In the first game, the story was fairly straightforward. In many ways, I really miss Altaïr. The first Assassin's Creed game had its shortcomings, but the elegance with which the game was played has yet to truly be duplicated. In Assassin's Creed 2, the player is introduced to Ezio, who I found unsympathetic at times given his blood lust for vengeance. In Brotherhood, Ezio becomes something more than a child, but a man who has a greater purpose. It is that nuance that makes the story for this game that much more compelling, despite it being utterly unoriginal.

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood is the closest thing to a great game I've played in some time. I have to give it demerits for poor graphics, an unoriginal story and repetitiveness, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. Since Red Dead Redemption, I have yet to play a game I got completely consumed by. I happily completed many of the challenges the game offered, solely because I was having a good time. But as the hours wore on, and the missions became basically the same, the novelty wore off. I now see why so many of my friends raved about this game. It is a great addition to the series, probably the best so far for me, but it still had issues that I hope to see resolved in Revelations and AC3.