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Release Date: November 16th, 2010 Movie Release Year: 2010

Assassins Creed: Brotherhood

Overview -

“Assassins Creed: Brotherhood” might be, hands-down the best game in the series, it is by no means an entry point, despite sporting the most refined game play and offering the most replay value. Picking up at the exact moment “Assassins Creed II” leaves off, “Brotherhood” follows Ezio, now a seasoned, jaded assassins on his quest to liberate Rome from the oppressive rule of the Borgias. Drawing from history yet again, the series offers players a heavy dose of historical fiction (emphasis on that last word) and a game that refuses to pander to newcomers. Rather than follow the all too familiar trap of adding a tacky plot contrivance as to why all your cool moves and gadgets aren’t accessible, “Brotherhood” merely takes a select few away (under the guise of breaking down from routine wear and tear) and forces you to help their now enslaved by the state creator Leonardo Da Vinci in order to reacquire them. Newcomers who make the mistake of skipping the previous installment will not only find themselves lost in a sea of intricate plotting and characterization, but hopelessly floundering at the difficulty of the game which assumes you mastered Ezio’s basic and not-so basic skills a year prior.

OVERALL:
Rating Breakdown
VIDEO
AUDIO
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
720p
Audio Formats:
Dolby Digital 5.1
Release Date:
November 16th, 2010

Video Review

Ranking:

Bad news first…”Assassins Creed: Brotherhood” comes so close to perfection, but a combination of two flaws impossible to overlook hold it back. With such high-resolution graphics that are practically all ready for interaction with Ezio, “Brotherhood” occasionally finds itself taking a moment to catch up with the action. While slowdown is a rare occurrence, reserved exclusively for the occasion when Ezio might drop a smoke bomb in crowd of a dozen or more NPCs, it is noticeable, albeit briefly. Instead, screen tearing rears its all too common, ugly head. While screen tearing is much preferable to me than constant dip in frame rate, it is a mar on a beautiful canvas.

The other mar on “Brotherhood’s” exterior is the better, but not perfect camera. As with other games in the franchise, there are instances where camera control is crucial to success, but becomes an adversary at inopportune times. A lot of these camera frustrations stem from venturing near areas where an invisible barrier occurs, but the most memorable arise during heated pursuits where timing is key and finding Ezio the best path to hide or escape is one’s only goal. One particular mission set in a flashback on the docks had me steaming, but eventually I overcame the less than precise game play eye and soldiered through.

Everything else in “Brotherhood” is bliss. The environments are wide an expansive, with a good variety of architectural choices to make Rome’s various districts stand out. A bit of pop-in happens, generally the higher you climb and the more of the city you see, but that’s expected and unavoidable for such an expansive open world experience. Character models are highly detailed and well-animated, with Ezio standing well-above the NPCs. Every so often, some collision detection glitch will break an animation, but mostly Ezio comes off as a piece of the environment himself, snaking his ways through alleys, nimbly scaling walls, and effortlessly crossing rooftops. As an added bonus the Da Vinci side-quests give designers the chance to create unique, one-time environments including watery tunnels, open sea combat, and small villas taken in high above on the wings of invention.

Audio Review

Ranking:

“Assassins Creed: Brotherhood” is a perfect aural experience. The high emphasis on free-form game play makes the ability for the sound to follow suit an essential quality that the game handles without hesitation. Surrounds track your current path of motion as well as the hustle and bustle of Roman life around you. While it’s far easier to check your in-game HUD for pursuit status, the sound design is so strong, that one could momentarily pause and turn the camera enough for Ezio’s ear to face the direction of pursuit and hear the clattering of weapons, should the be present.

Also perfect and a no-brainer in hindsight, the voice work of “Brotherhood” once again allows for an immersive, cinematic experience. Roger Craig Smith returns as Ezio and while his vocal talents don’t get to show off the amazing progression from idealistic young Ezio the seasoned assassin, he’s confident and consistent in his reprisal. Fan favorite Nolan North actually looks like an amateur this time out, as Desmond still lacks a compelling personality, although Kristen Bell as Lucy picks up the slack in the present-day sequences. As a whole the voice cast make “Brotherhood” the type of game where a few hours in, one could close their eyes and tell which character is speaking.

On a general sound design front, effects carry weight and the subtleties of combat don’t make themselves known until players are able to pull off blocks and reversals with ease, leaving the ear free to catch the differences in tone. The show stealer is Jesper Kyd’s beautiful atmospheric score. Fans of previous entries as well as the “Hitman” series know Kyd is THE name when it comes to game scores and he doesn’t disappoint. A home run for all parties involved.

A few nitpicks aside, “Assassins Creed: Brotherhood” is hands-down, the best game in the series and one of the finest games of this generation. Managing to accomplish the impossible by providing viewers with a compelling fluid, narrative only a year after its phenomenal predecessor along with a refined, innovative multiplayer experience makes it a must own title. Ezio Auditore da Firenze cements his status as one of the best modern video game characters, although to fully appreciate the game play and story, players should definitely not pick this up before running through “Assassins Creed II” as the learning curve would be too high and the plot incomprehensible.