In a surprisingly quiet Christmas game-wise I only really wanted Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. My only experience of Assassin's Creed beforehand was the first 20 or so minutes of Assassin's Creed 2 so I spent a few minutes on Christmas Eve reading up on the plot of the previous two, which gave me some idea what was going on when I started.
I immediately got into the game, both story and game-play. Free running+Sandbox world is definitely a winning combination. The graphics are also a significant improvement from what I saw in that 20 minutes of the second game. The game's version of Rome is rather accurate from what I can tell of my visit there 2 years ago and is made much easier to explore thanks to the ability to call horses (which seem to appear from thin air, rivers or even walls) and ride from one side to the other with relative speed. The new aspect of recruiting civilians and training them until they become fully fledged Assassins is also a great idea. You can send them off on missions throughout Europe, earning you money and items whilst also levelling them up and they can be extremely useful to call upon when you're in a sticky situation. Although I did find myself calling upon them for almost everything to the point I barely did any work myself.
The only real complaint I have story-wise is the execution of Sequence's 8 and 9. I found myself being thrown from mission to mission with no connecting cinematic and then I simply had no idea how I got to the situation in Sequence 9. The final mission at the end as Desmond seemed to be nothing but bouts of platforming between cinematics and story telling but I found it enjoyable enough.
|Disappointed with the lack of Engineer or Blacksmith|
Of course, there is Brotherhood's biggest new feature: Online Mutliplayer. I have been playing this daily with my friends (as either the Engineer or Blacksmith whenever we have the chance) and we all love it. The basics consist of players choosing a character (with many NPC's as the same character) and either hiding from other Assassins or trying to hunt out others amidst the dozens of identical NPCs. You get a certain amount of points depending on how you take out your target, so sneaking up or jumping from a rooftop will get you much more points than if you sprint around like an idiot. The current game modes consist of Wanted - a free-for-all where you are both the hunter and the hunted (along with an 'advanced' variant which apparently makes it harder to find targets), Manhunt - Two teams of four takes turns hunting and hiding, and Alliance - Similar to Wanted but with three teams of two. There are also various abilities, perks and kill/loss streaks (along with different costumes colours and extra characters) you unlock as you progress through the levels with each being very useful, especially in certain combinations. There are only about 5 maps (with one more apparently coming out along with Advanced Alliance) but you probably won't seem to mind as you'll be having too much fun.
I completed this game yesterday, and yet I have no intention of stopping playing it any time soon. I still have plenty of things to do in 16th Century Rome - renovating buildings and shops, completing various other missions and achieving 100% synch (another new feature) on missions I failed to achieve it on. Along with this I also have Virtual Training (which I'm not too bothered with) and the ever-so-enjoyable Multiplayer. I haven't had a desire to 100% complete a game this much since Mass Effect 2 earlier this year and this is easily one of the best games I have played, being a welcome breath of fresh air among the hordes of First Person Shooters, Racing and Sports games coming out these days, and I think it's even more of an achievement due to the fact I haven't even played the first two games and I was still completely immersed.
I know that more or less all the 'review' kind of things I've done so far have been extremely positive, but I suppose I just always choose thins that I will undoubtedly love. If you've played and enjoyed the first two games I strongly recommend this as you will undoubtedly love it and if, like me, you haven't even played the first two I still recommend you buy this, although you may be better off playing at least the second game first (which I plan to do eventually) so you have a bit more of an idea of what's going on.