Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, First Impressions

Posted by Alex Jordan on

As super excited as I was to get Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood for Christmas, that hasn't translated into much playtime yet. Partly, that's because I've been diligently trying to eliminate my back catalog of Steam games that I went nuts purchasing over the past few weeks, but it's also partly due to the fact that Assbro suggests that the Assassin's Creed franchise is starting to buckle under its own weight.

Remember that whole sex->out the window->horse thing I mentioned? That's been the highlight thus far. After that, I eventually made my way to Rome in the year 1500 A.D., and it's kind of a shithole, especially compared to the shimmering beauty of Venice in the previous game. I know the idea is that you repair this shithole to make it less of a shithole, but I really do miss the Adriatic.

And since Assbro is more of an addendum to AC2 and less of a sequel, the pacing is more immediate, despite the year-long hiatus between games. Assbro immediately reintroduces the renovation system (so you can un-shithole-ize Rome), the landowner/income system (I now run a brothel!), the tomb system (now called the Lairs of Romulus), the glyph/Da Vinci Code system, the weapon/armor upgrade system, the fast-travel system, and various others. To this list, Assbro also adds new things in the form of a territorial control system (drive your enemies, the Borgias, out of certain neighborhoods in Rome), and God knows what else is to come. I know, for instance, that I'll be controlling my own packs of assassins at some point in the game.

Also, callbacks to AC1 have returned, such as collecting flags and throwing baddies into scaffolds.

The end result of all of this? Sheer madness! AC1 left a lot to be desired, which AC2 mostly rectified by throwing everything the developers could think of into the mix. Instead of using Assbro to pare down that list or make it more efficient, Assbro keeps it intact and throws even more crap on top of it. "Simple but elegant", it is not. I'd even settle for merely "elegant", but the weight of these systems is a little too apparent for that.

Also, the systemic overload is combined with very slow initial plot advancement following the wham-bang intro. I keep following Niccolo Machiavelli around as he alternates between snarky and cynical. That's kind of... it, so far. Sooo... the game has given me tons of shit to do, but not much plot context in which to do them. Lovely.

We'll see how all this turns out.