Finishing Assassin’s Creed 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

 

Assassin's Creed II
Assassin's Creed II (photo by SingleBuilder)
Back at the beginning of January, I compared the first and second installments in the Assassin’s Creed main line of games. A couple weeks ago I finished up Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, a continuation of Desmond and Ezio’s stories. I don’t have too much more to add to what I wrote about the second game before. For the most part, I feel the same about it as before. The ending was pretty awesome. It took what you learned about the pieces of Eden from the first game and turned it to 11. Reading through TVtropes, I learned that I missed out on a bit of backstory in the first game by not getting on the Abstergo computer. The same could easily happen if you don’t do the optional Subject 16 puzzles in Assassin’s Creed II. As someone who LOVE getting into a game’s universe/backstory I’m a bit miffed that these bits are so optional. On the one hand, it’s great for those who don’t give a crap about the backstory and just want to assassinate some dudes. But it’s really easy to miss how epic the game really is. If it weren’t for the backstory, I wouldn’t be as anxious as I am for the next installment to come out. Unfortunately for my pocketbook, the smart money is on Ubisoft annualizing the Assassins’ Creed series. This may mean we don’t get a good, conclusive ending. Of course, they could go in the super-creative route and give a satisfactory ending and then have new games just fill in story in the past or with other assassin groups.

The subject 16 videos, in particular, really add to the story of the conflict between the templars and assassin’s throughout history – a part of the game paralleled for both Ezio and Desmond.  Ezio has a shrine in his ancestral home of ancient assassins.  Desmond is learning about other parts of history from the subject 16 puzzles.  Basically these are little puzzles – word puzzles and image puzzles and they tell the story of how various people throughout history like Edison and Hitler have had possession of pieces of Eden and used it for various means.  Each solved puzzle gives you a bit of a video slightly out of order.  When you watch them you can’t figure out wtf is going on.  But when you finish the puzzle and the whole thing is put together.  It’s pretty awesome.  At first I thought – “that’s awesome!” Then I thought – “oh, it’s a bit cliche”.  But then I got to the ending of the game.  Holy cow!  I really can’t mention anything because saying anything would be a major spoiler.  Just make sure you have subtitles on so you can catch everything. 

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood picks up EXACTLY where Assassin’s Creed 2 left off.  (Seems to be a trend for the series)   The game came out within a year of the last one give or take a few months and, given that it follows Ezio as well, almost nothing is changed.  So it’s not the evolutionary step from 1 to 2.  It’s much more incremental.  One thing common to both games that I grew to hate was the follow mission.  They were annoying and time consuming.  Some guy or gal would wander around the city and you have to follow them.  You can’t get too close or they notice you and you have to get out of their sight before they completely notice you and you have to restart the mission.  If you’re within a certain distance and people with crates bump into you, you lose.  But, if you get far enough to lose sight of them, you have 32 seconds to catch up.  The line of sight thing makes following along the rooftops annoying.  Although I found out after completing the game that with with eagle vision I could maybe have cheated a bit because it leaves a trail to follow and so you don’t need to “see” them – even if it’s obvious where they’re going to go.  (If you’re in an alley, for example)

Ezio ready to attack from above
Ezio ready to attack from above (photo by pitrek02)
In the 2012 part of the game you finally learn where Desmond has been kidnapped to.  It was kept deliberately obscured in the first two games.  You also start to get a feel for what’s going on with other teams with the ability to check in-game email.  Just like the first game, this one starts off slow (if a bit tantalizing at points).  You kinda go into jRPG mode where you’re just running around the ancestral grounds running errands for people until you tick off the game’s checkboxes that indicate you’re caught up with what’s been going on since you last checked in with Ezio.  At first, I found myself wishing Assassin’s Creed was like Mass Effect and other games that import your save from the previous game – especially since both of these involve Ezio and, depending on how you played, you might be a rich man.  It turns out not to matter.  Stuff happens and when you come back to the animus, you’re broke with crappy armor. 

In 2012 your team gets to their new location.  (on the run from Abstergo/Templars)  Then the most annoying 2012 sequence in the whole series takes place.  You end up doing stuff that made me wonder if I’d accidentally slipped Uncharted into the Playstation.  It doesn’t help that Desmond and Nathan Drake are both played by the same voice actor and you’re being helped/followed around by a blond woman.

Once you get back into the Animus there’s still some spin-up time before you can be awesome again.  Unlike the previous game, all the shops in Rome are shuttered.  You need to spend money to get them open or you’ll find yourself with low health and nary a doctor in sight.  You also need to get rid of Borgia towers to be able to open up the shops.  Basically, they’re using their power to be thugs and ultra-tax the shop owners or something.  So you need to get rid of them first.  Once I got to a certain money level, I took some time off from doing core missions to just keep buying up stores (which, as in the previous game, provide you with income) so I could have one nearby and also increase my monetary flow.  This game is even more unstructured (positive spin: open world) than the previous one.  There’s plenty to do without furthering the story.

As some point in the game (after way too many hours considering it’s the point of the subtitle brotherhood) you gain the ability to train assassins.  It was Giant Bomb’s description of the fun of using these guys that made me get into the series to start with.  And it IS a lot of fun.  It’s so much fun that, once I was able to recruit them, I spent the next few hours just maxing their skills – ie leveling them up.  This is done by sending them on missions.  It took me a while to realize that I could stack guys/gals up to do tougher missions and get more XP.  But basically I just spent about ⅓ of my playtime just running around and waiting for my guys to finish up their missions so I could send them on another one to level them up.  Once they’d reached level 5 or 6 (out of 10), I started using them on my missions.  They are really useful for missions where you can’t be seen.  You have them murder all the guys ahead of you and you are good.  Also, after 6 or 9 guys (I forgot) you get this ability to just kill every bad guy on the screen.  Once you have that, finishing the rest of the Borgia towers is a piece of cake.  You just jump right in the middle and trigger that and they’re all dead.  Later in the game, they’re so powerful and numerous that when I was getting bored running around the city, I’d just tell them to attack every group of guards I came across – even if I wasn’t being chased or anything.  Anyway, they’re a lot of fun to use and can also be strategic.

I noticed that, compared to the previous game, I pretty much never hired courtesans, thieves, or fighters.  They were there and, if you renovated certain buildings you could increase their presence, but they just weren’t needed.  Before I used them so I could get the codex papers without having to fight a bunch of guys every time.  But this time around, there weren’t codex pages to collect and, really, no real reason to use them.  Especially because Rome was so large, they’d have gotten lost following me around.  Speaking of how large it is.  Early on Ezio and another character converse about how large it is and so you’ll have to use a horse to get around or these Assassin tunnels.  So you can whistle for a horse nearly anywhere in the game and it’ll show up.  The problem, at least for me, is that Rome is so labyrinthine that it’s so much faster to just run around and jump off balconies and over rooftops.  Also, the horse isn’t THAT much faster unless you’re in the countryside.

Assassin's Creed II - Ezio ready to attack a boat
Ezio ready to attack a boat (photo by pitrek02)
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood also added missions with Leonardo da Vinci’s war machines.  The game takes all his awesome inventions like the tank or flying machine and makes them real.  These missions are part stealth and part awesome destruction.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) you can’t bring in your assassin’s or it would be game-breakingly easy.  The game also introduces the concept of 100% sync.  (At least I didn’t remember it in part 2 so if it was there, maybe it was less ornery) Basically in order to get 100% sync you have to play a memory a certain way.  They might say you can’t kill anyone or can’t be spotted or can’t take damage.  Sometimes they make a mission more challenging and fun and sometimes they just make it more annoying.  As far as I could tell, there was no penalty for not getting 100% sync other than perhaps not getting a trophy. 

I really enjoyed playing through this game and only had two complaints.  First of all, it wasn’t quite as polished as the other two games.  It can get a little janky in areas where the game confines you.  In other words, you know how it keeps you from exploring the whole city by saying that a certain part is not accessible in this memory and if you stay there you lose sync?  Well, sometimes they do that for a key battle to make sure you can’t run away.  And twice I ended up with fleeing enemies running into that inaccessible area.  The first time it didn’t matter.  The second time it involved key enemies that had to be killed and I had to restart the memory – which was annoying because it started with a follow mission.  The other complaint is that the game eventually reaches a point of no return.  I had been saving certain things like the Subject 16 stuff for near the end like in the last game.  This game is not as explicit as the other one that you won’t be coming back.  In this case, you don’t leave Rome, but you are severely limited in where you can go and what you can do.  In the end it doesn’t matter because all three games allow you to get back in the Animus after the credits so you can 100% the game.

Ezio burns a Borgia Tower
Ezio burns a Borgia Tower (photo by Saber-Scorpion)
Other than that, the game was great.  It left a HUGE sequel hook in that the end of the game was a huge “WTF IS GOING ON?!?”  Additionally, there was some interesting dialog at the end that didn’t have an visuals so you’re not quite sure exactly what happened.  I was spoiled by being able to play the first three back-to-back.  Now I can’t wait for the next entry.  I really hope they finish Desmond’s story rather than leaving that hanging.  The game is definitely a must-play if you’ve been playing the other games in the series.  It can also stand on its own, but you’ll really be missing out on a lot of the backstory and the ending will not make ANY sense to you.  But you can still roleplay as a renaissance assassin.

 

Author: Eric Mesa

To find out a little more about me, see About Me

2 thoughts on “Finishing Assassin’s Creed 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood”

  1. I’m waiting to find out if Kristen Bell returns to AC3. If she doesn’t…I don’t know if I want to play.

    1. Yeah, although they could pull a “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” on you and have her as a flashback or just for a few minutes and you wouldn’t know!

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