As Assassin's Creed 3 comes out, I would like to remind all of you of the game that introduced the Assassin's Creed series to multiplayer. As its name indicates, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood also introduced the Brotherhood of Assassins that help you in game missions and killing guards, though that plays a very minimal role in the campaign in my opinion. This is the best game I have ever played (either this or Call of Duty: Black Ops) but that might change when I receive Assassin’s Creed III tomorrow. Since I haven’t replayed the Story Mode yet, I’ll stick to the open world free play and some other features such as Guild challenges and the Virtual Training program.

Needless to say, the graphics are amazing, making Rome come to life with happy, annoying peasants who walk around saying the same things to you over and over. The game offers some splendid sights inside and outside of Rome, and each historical location is brought to life in its full glory. Information about everything is easily accessible in the Database, and whenever an historical place, group of people or person is seen in the game, a little text box pops up saying “Press back to access Database” making it easy to access. Other features like these make the depth of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood easily accessible.

Is I’ve said, I have yet to replay the Story Mode and its side mission. I have finished it once and I have to say that the mysterious, dramatic and challenging Story Mode will suck you in and won’t let go no matter what- unless you’ve had a taste of the addictive multiplayer, that is. In my opinion one of the best multiplayer experiences ever made, the innovate game modes and unlockable characters & special abilities will keep you playing for hours until your eyes bleed. Each different game mode requires strategic thinking and every new ability adds a whole new level of depth to the exciting multiplayer experience.

We’ll go into Story Mode missions and actual story and into the Multiplayer on my future reviews (keep an eye out for a Game Comparison- ACB vs. ACIII), but for now, forget about that. I’m going to focus solely on the open world free play, Story Mode gameplay and more and I’ll explain the minimal flaws in these categories that kept me from giving Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood a 10.00 on my review.

The game doesn’t start out open world style, first it tells Desmond’s story, and when he tries to access Sequence 9 to find the location of the Apple of Eden through the Animus, access is denied. Desmond realizes he must live through all the sequences of Ezio’s journey to keep the Apple safe and get it back after he loses it. Reliving those memories is where most of the story happens as Ezio Auditore da Firenze.

After a couple introductory missions, you are set free to explore Rome if you do not wish to continue with the story missions at the moment. At first, there is very little you can purchase in fact, you must purchase a shop before buying anything from it, and you have to free a shop from Borgia influence before purchasing it. And to free a shop from under Borgia influence, you must ignite the nearest Borgia tower. And to ignite a Borgia tower, you must first kill its Borgia captain, which in many cases is difficult because most of them flee when they see you and have tons of guards to cover their escape. And sometimes a Borgia tower is in a restricted area but the shop it influences is not, so there’s nothing you can do in those situations. This may sound tedious but it really isn’t because taking down a Borgia captain is always fun and each Borgia captain has a different fighting or fleeing style.

There is another reason that you can purchase very little in the beginning of the game, and that is because money is very poorly distributed along the story. If it sounds confusing, I’ll explain what I mean. In the start, you have to limit yourself to crappy armor that breaks in every fight or fall and a weak sword. This is completely normal, but what bothers me is that by the time you’re winning lots of money it’s basically useless. You might have 20,000 florins coming in every 20 minutes, but of what use is that if you’ve already bought the best weapons, you’ve fully renovated Rome and you’ve won the Armor of Brutus? Sure, you can buy ammo and medicine but you don’t need a million (literally) florins to buy that. Some solutions to that are selling items (which I never did) or disarming a guard and replacing your weapon with his.

The most important aspects of the Story Mode outside missions (and probably inside missions too) is what you will be doing most of the time- free running, climbing, and engaging in combat, whether it be hand to hand, armed, long range or horseback. I liked the fact that I could run or sprint and they were two different things and I’m not happy they got rid of it in Assassin’s Creed 3. Free running is fluid on screen but not always in your controller, forcing you to make difficult maneuvers that don’t always work just because you moved your left analog stick slightly to the left or you didn’t press “A” in time for a jump. You will notice that with almost anything in the game, one slight mistake will have disastrous effects. While this creates more than necessary pressure for the player not to mess up, checkpoints are useless in this matter because once you mess up you have to restart if you want to get full synch or a gold medal or whatever(Assassin’s Creed 3 has fixed this, you’ll see how in my AC3 review).

The same thing applies for climbing and jumping. I wish the climbing system was more flexible to the direction you try to move. Sometimes I assume that the ledge to my right is not climbable because I’m moving the left analog stick to the right and Ezio doesn’t move. Turns out I had to move the left stick in a very specific diagonal angle in which I didn’t. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood’s gameplay should’ve been more flexible definitively (Missions too for that instance. Come to think about it, this applies to most aspects of the game).

Combat can be fluid and deep, but that depends on how varied the player’s combat style is. For example, I never use my gun, smoke bomb, poison, throwing knives, or some other things. Correct me if I’m wrong, but most people will rely on the kick-attack-attack-until-he-dies, or the counter-one-guy-and-start-a-kill streak methods. These two are the easiest combat methods to take down large groups of guards in my opinion (aside from arrow storm, obviously). While making 26 kill streaks is possible, many times how long you get depends on luck, what I mean is that sometimes you’re lucky because a guard attacks in time for you to easily counter kill him and then kill the next guy, but sometimes a guard attacks in a moment right when you’re hitting someone else and your kill streak is over.

The enemy system is decent and varied, but that variety is not well implemented in the open world. Brutes and gunmen are very scarce if not completely extinct when you finish story mode. Papal Guards can only be found in Castel Sant’Angelo, which I guess makes sense. There are many different types of guards seen throughout the story, but by the end of the game you see only four types of enemies. Guards are supposed to keep a lookout for you, especially if your notoriety is high, but I think the enemy recognition system was not very well done. For example, you are never supposed to be on the rooftops (I mean by the Borgia’s laws), so whenever a crossbowman sees you, he is supposed to attack. But whenever your notoriousness is not at 100%, you have time to walk close to a crossbowman, pull out your own crossbow (or pistol or even throwing knife) and kill him with it before he attacks. All that time he’s just staring at you. This makes several missions’ full synch requirements considerably easier, so I can forgive them for that. But I’m sure there was another way to make that happen that wasn’t making all your guards have an attention deficit.

The assassin’s brotherhood system is good enough, but recruiting new assassins gets repetitive and there is very little depth in the missions you send your assassins to and your assassin’s progression system as well, aside from the fact that as they level up, you can choose to upgrade their weapons or their armor. The way the mission system works is that missions have five levels of difficulty, a reward in cash and XP and even special items, and a certain time the mission takes to complete. The difficulty of the mission determines the skill and number of assassins required. When you choose what assassins to send in the mission, it gives you a percentage. This is the probability that the mission will be a success and your assassins don’t die. I think this was supposed to give an element of chance or risk and reward, but there is no point in risking an assassin that is more than level one when there is no hurry and you can just wait a little more until you have the appropriate forces to complete a mission. The assassins and arrow storm are extremely helpful, with the ability to get you out of tight situations, make awesome stealth kills and quickly turn the tide of a battle. Sometimes, however, an arrow storm will not kill all the enemies in a fight like it should.

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is not a game for completionists. Examples are found anywhere- from the seemingly impossible full synch requirements in some of Leonardo’s machines to the way-too-many Borgia flags and the Guild Challenges. We’ll go into the full synch on another review, and for the Borgia flags there isn’t much to be said except that there are too many, which makes it so that you have to dedicate entire gaming sessions to capturing Borgia flags (which is tedious) instead of capturing them naturally as you go different places. Same thing can be said for the Guild Challenges. They were probably meant for you to complete on missions or while free running or in combat, however, for most of them, you have to go out of your way and spend some time just to complete them.

The last flaw worth mentioning is the camera. While normally it is easy to control, whenever you use the lock mechanism on someone, or you are engaged in combat, the camera is hard to control- which can make for disastrous effects since whenever you are in combat or locked to someone, that can be a crucial moment that you can’t afford having the camera mess up.