Game Review: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (Xbox 360)

Ezio looking badass as usual
Ubisoft Entertainment

"This game is wrong. Sloppy Hot Pocket wrong" are the words that resonated throughout Plus Minus Infinity's first impression of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Well one combined liter of blood, sweat, and tears later and I am here to report that after completing this game...

...My feelings have not changed much. Despite a noticeable increase in production value, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood seems to have inadvertently revived that everything-is-a-chore feeling from the first title, by stuffing this fertile cash cow of a franchise to the brim with what I like to call fake longevity.

Ezio burning a Borgia Tower
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Size Does Matter
Fake longevity is much like the colloquial term, fake difficulty, in that it's utter bullshit. Where fake longevity differs though is that it is purposefully programmed into our favorite videogames because a longer game means that it's more fun, right?

No. You see, Brotherhood has a lot of irritating tricks up it's sleeve that only serve to make draw out the single player mode. Creating a longer story mode isn't a problem when the tools used to do so are actually fun, but with Brotherhood this isn't the case. Here's a brief list of tactless fake longevity that I found in Brotherhood.

Wait, scratch that. That brief list of mine ended up being too long for this review, so I've decided to list them in a separate post here. For now I'll simply tell you that the fake longevity nearly made me hate this game and that makes me sad. Although there is one thing about Brotherhood that, while not exactly redeeming, did tickle me in all the right places.

The Colosseum debuts in Brotherhood
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Refinement Here,
Refinement There
It's the refinement! As with Assassin's Creed II, there is yet again a noticeable increase in the quality of visuals. Gone is that bloom and blurry look from ACII that served to hide aliasing and in it's place are crystal clear visuals, smooth and drool worthy. Admittedly, I prefer the visuals of this game's predecessor as hues of gray and yellow replace of the boring city of Rome replace the vivid color pallet of Venice, but here we are in yet another Assassin's Creed game where the visuals have taken another step forward and I think that's quite impressive for a mainstream game series that sees annual releases.

Those guards had a very rough day
Click Image to Enlarge
More Badass Combat? 
Oh Hell Yeah
Check out the very cool look of Ezio performing an execution on some poor Borgia guards, and you'll also notice that there are even more executions that you can perform on your enemies. The combos are more and less the same, but man pulling off those final executions feels very satisfying in Brotherhood's new, slick combat system where you can chain together a series of executions Batman-style. If the combat system from ACII was enough to make Batman blush, then the combat system in this game would probably make the Dark Knight sleep with one eye open. Man imagine that, an Assassin's Creed-Batman mash up. Yup, you heard it here first on Plus Minus Infinity make this happen, Ubisoft and DC, I'll be patiently waiting.

Two of Brotherhood's multiplayer characters
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Stab Your Friends!
The final, most noteworthy refinement that I want to touch on is probably the most important (Read: redeeming) quality of Brotherhood: Online multiplayer. I am calling this a refinement in that it refines the overall appeal of the game, giving you more ways to potentially enjoy Brotherhood. Personally, no matter how many online matches I played, the experience felt like a chintzy distraction from the highly frustrating story mode.

Don't get me wrong, Brotherhood's multiplayer has been lauded by both critics and fans alike and for good reason: It works as it should and there's a lot of fun to be had in what are basically glorified games of cat and mouse (But with knives, of course). You can choose different characters to play as in both co-op and competitive mode and it's quick and easy to get into. Simply put, my interest just isn't multiplayer in an Assassin's Creed game (Although I appreciate it's inclusion) but it just may be yours.

Technical Issues 2.5 
I'll plainly say it: Brotherhood feels like Assassin's Creed 2.5. Surprise! There aren't any major changes to the gameplay in this game and in reality it feels like it's taken one collective step backward. As thoroughly explained in my list of Brotherhood's usage of fake longevity, the few changes that have been made to the gameplay from ACII to Brotherhood are ones that limit how you're able to play each mission. Instead of choosing to be stealthy in one mission, you are forced to be stealthy. Having less options made many of the missions feel boring to me.

Now, there are a few, wickedly fun missions, like one involving silver colored fruit that I can see myself going back to play again but overall I trudged through the missions for the sake of the still highly intriguing story, only having fun with the sweet, revamped combat system whenever the the mission ceased to nanny my decisions. But alas, even combat has it's quirks that further mar what could have been a seamless experience.

Ezio escaping guards
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Allow me to explain, combat can be an iffy ordeal as functions such as locking on will cause your Assassin to misfire even though you are perfectly locked onto an enemy. Other times, you are required to hit two buttons simultaneously to perform certain moves like countering and dodging, and in larger fights this gets very tiresome very quickly.

Lastly, when chasing down a thief that's stolen your money, you will want to lock onto them but, again, the in game camera questions you and decides that you probably wanted to lock on to the guard standing still some distance behind you when you pressed the lock on button.

Much like Brotherhood's refinements, these technical problems are relatively small and are something that only bare their faces after you've played in a long session. The problems, however, have existed in the previous title. If Brotherhood is a true sequel, why have these repeated technical problems not been fixed?

If This Is A Sequel, 
Then Hot Pockets are Food 
After Ubisoft Montreal's associate producer Jean-Francois Boivin told online game magazine, Eurogamer, that their studio "took each feature [of Assassin's Creed II and] said, 'How can we make that feature better, or give it a bit of spice, a bit of Tabasco, or a bit of baby oil so it flows a bit better?'" Call me a cynic, but I can't help but to look back on those words and see them as disingenuous. Not only does Brotherhood play like an expansion pack, even if the game played like a true sequel, then it would be a highly disappointing one.

Come to think of it, Boivin's statement may be accurate after all as I imagine baby oil would make a fantastic lubricant for furiously milking the hell out of any given cash cow. As we all know, without lubricant you would only curdle the milk as it exits the cow nipple which then becomes a bunch of horrible 3D Sonic games. Cows do have nipples, right? I don't know these things.

Buy or Rent?
This game can be found at affordable prices nearly everywhere these days, and despite my utter disappointment with this title, you may end up loving everything that I disliked. What is fake longevity to me may be addictive, challenging gameplay for you. So with that in mind, I recommend that you buy it and give it a fair chance. At least play until you're midway through the story mode, I say, and if by then you're not really feeling its somewhat new style then give the multiplayer mode a go. Brotherhood is a polarizing title so I really do mean it that there is a good chance that you will enjoy all that it has to offer.

If you enjoyed this review, please share the love on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ by clicking the icons above this post, below this post, or to the left of this post. Also let me know what you though of Brotherhood and/or this review in the comments below. You can follow me on twitter @PlusMinusINF and on Facebook to receive instant blog updates and other fun stuff. Say, while you're here, why not check out last week's flash game post? It's awesome, trust me.


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