Wot I Think: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood

By Alec Meer on March 21st, 2011 at 2:51 pm.

I only killed them because the pigeon told me to

Ubisoft’s third Assassin’s Creed game arrived on PC on Friday – some four months later than the console version. I poured some time in the Xbox 360 (hissssss) edition late last year, and I’ve now spent the last week or so with the PC one. Too little too late, or about damned time? Or a bit of both? Here’s my verdict.

The game that’s least like the Assassin’s Creed concept turns out to be the best use of the concept yet. Oh look, a conclusion in the very first line. I’ve ballsed this one right up, eh? Perhaps; but I’m aware there are preconceptions to be got past here.

Allow me to elaborate. Brotherhood, the third Assassin’s Creed (please note, by the way, that I will be employing the shortforms AssCreed and AssBro throughout this piece – this does not demonstrate any contempt for the game, but does perhaps demonstrate that a) I’m lazy b) I remain far too amused by the word ‘ass’) is not Assassin’s Creed 3. No full-blown sequel here, no clean break with the past, no wish list of new features.

Instead, it’s a sort of 2.5, perhaps even falling into the strange zone we call ‘expandalone.’ It documents the continuing adventures of Italian Renaissance-era outlaw-hero Ezio, who is the distance ancestor of present day reluctant science experiment/conspiracy participant Desmond. While so far in AssCreed’s short history, the tradition has been to switch to a different ancestor with each new game, this one performs the highly unusual choice of returning to a game’s hero once his tale is apparently told. It’s a bit like getting to see what happens to a romcom couple after the credits roll. They’ve got everything they want: everything is resolved for ever and ever, right? Not exactly.

The choice to return to an apparently finished tale and pre-existent character/setting could have been read as a corner-cutting one, flogging a once extremely lively but now surely expired horse. I’m quite sure that could have happened, and this could have been a sorry cash-in to ensure an annual franchise release. Instead, and to Ubisoft’s eternal credit, it opts to go deeper rather than simply repeat. It ain’t broke, but let’s fix it anyway. How can everything be a little bit better, a little bit more open, a little bit more rewarding. In addition, what happens to the hero once the hero’s won? While Ezio isn’t some god-king figure – and the game wastes little time in pulling a back to square one-ish stunt – he does have some quite remarkable resources at his beck and call, as befitting a man who has apparently already mastered his abilities.

Most ludicrous/wonderful of these are the semi-titular brotherhood. These are collective of AI-controlled henchmen that Ezio can call in for large-scale hits. There’s almost zero interaction with them, but that’s sort of the point. Click a button, and a cartel of chilling efficient turn up and slay any enemy in sight for you. Either spend your constantly recharging assaso-meter on summoning just a couple, or burn the lot at once for a rain of arrows that see any foe in sight crumple like string-cut puppets. It’s like an old-school arcade game special move, but realised in such a way that it isn’t anything like a cheat. This is down to another of AssBro’s triumphs: its dense, activity-packed city. Auto-clearing one small square of guards doesn’t affect Ezio’s minute-to-minute existence in grand old Rome. There are always more around the corner, or a clutch of escort or stealth quests in which a hail of AI insta-killers are no use whatsoever. Rome’s not a problem you solve in a day, and especially not in a cheeky button-press.

To go back to the start, AssBro is by no means a game of stealth and silent killing. Elements of it are in the mix, but the game is a swollen balloon of things to do. In the right light, it’s almost a meta video game: elements of so many genres and games, all draped around the beating heart of its huge and beautiful city. It is Prince of Persia, it is GTA, it is Rainbow Six, it is Tomb Raider, it is Devil May Cry, it is Thief, it is… Well, it’s all and none of those games. It is an environment for controlling a virtual action hero in. One thing I don’t know if I could definitely say it is is ‘Assassin’s Creed.’ Purely because I’m not even sure what ‘Assassin’s Creed’ means now. The original pitch was a sort of free-form stealth game, where any sort of detection was bad news, crowds were a vital tool to survival and evidence had to be gathered before you could progress. AssCreed 2 evolved what was, in practice, a grating collection of mini-games in a mesmerising setting into a remarkably confident and rewarding action game. AssBro then turns the whole thing into a big old party.

You wanna kill guys? Kill guys! You want to go shopping? Go shopping! You want to buy and renovate property so you can roll around in gold? Yeah, that! You want to go dungeoneering? Go dungeoneering! You want to join an underground fight club? Buy up famous Roman landmarks? Decorate your lair with world-famous art? Yes, yes, yes. You want to be a silent assassin? Er, sure. But why not make a whole lot of sound and fury en route? Go on, it’ll be fun! Even the core missions are impressively diverse, forever seeking ways to shake up the mechanics’ status quo, diving between raw action, Prince of Persia-style puzzle-acrobatics, stealth and frantic racing, plus a fair few additional gimmicks throw into the mix.

What could, in the wrong light, be seen as feature creep somehow works. It’s the city as a playground, but not in the way we often laud such a gaming concept. While a proud chest-thumper in terms of in-game architecture, this isn’t a place to watch the world go by, to soak in the atmosphere and marvel at the many quirks of its many people. It’s not a simulation. It’s an activity centre. Remarkably, this does not devolve into mindless or irritating mini-games, and that’s because you develop a personal interest in the activities you pursue. Everything has some degree of levelling up and collectormania. It’s not a million miles shy of Farmville, or even MMOs at their worst. Fortunately, this is deftly mitigated by the game having an authoritative understanding of reward. There isn’t much in the way of grind or hanging about, but instead throwing yourself into whatever’s either nearby or marked on the map as awaiting your interest. You ping between investing in shops, levelling up your assassins and buying new weapons with the same sort of rapid-fire, distracted fluidity as Ezio does from roof to roof. Do what you want. In general, the game has little interest in making you work too hard, and certainly not in suffering. It wants you to play. If you’re here seeking a rewardingly cruel challenge, you probably won’t find it. AssBro’s far more into showering you with gifts and distraction.

As such, I’ve lost an awful lot of time to it. I keep turning away from to this review (the game alt-tabs beautifully: rejoice!) to see if my assassins have levelled up yet, or if I can afford to buy the Mausoleo di Augusto. Or maybe I could do another mission for Leonardo da Vinci, which might result in another ride in his ludicrous proto-tank, a sort of pedal-powered, land-bound wooden UFO.

Yes, while AssBro goes to great lengths in terms of historical accuracy in some regards, in other it’s off the map stooopid. From some of the accents to the omnipotency of Ezio’s brotherhood, to his chum da Vinci’s theoretical weapons and most of all the prophecy and sci-fi which underpins his links to modern-day descendent Desmond, it has little shame in being absurd. It would probably be a better game were these elements turned down, but it could not be said to truly suffer for them. Mercifully, the 21st century elements are less invasive than ever before, although they are unavoidable if you focus primarily on the core missions. Past a certain point the plot takes over and your freedom dissipates, so take your time, don’t hurry, indulge yourself. There really is no pressure until you decide to seek it. The bulk of my time was spent simply going mad in Rome, with no-one telling me what to do except myself and no interruptions by exposition-from-the-future. Endlessly distracted, endlessly compelled to play more.

In a way, I can’t imagine a video game in 2011 that’s more like a video game in 2011. Once learned, the control system is elegant and natural, but were you to drop someone in without introduction they’d be absolutely lost. There are so many different functions and buttons, so many black and white icons denoting activities or enemies or interactions, so many movement and action combos, so much screaming for your attention and co-ordination at any one time. It is very much a game for gamers, in the way that latter term is broadly understood by the populace at large. To its eternal credit, it hangs together beautifully, my hands doing their thing naturally as my brain conjures dense maps and objectives.

That said, I really didn’t get on well with it via keyboard and mouse. Too much needed pressing at once, and Ezio is far more a steered puppet than a perspective. A gamepad is a much more natural fit, heresy as some may find that. It’s not a game of accuracy, but of interaction. The compactness, the in-handness of a pad simply makes more sense for this game. In all other senses, it seems as PC a game as any – looks great, runs butter-smooth on my system, and there’s no trace of console iconography in the menus. Even the infamous 9-step game exiting procedure in AC1 is a thing of the past. Perhaps the four month wait for a ‘proper’ PC version was worth it after all. Seriously though: gamepad.

That’s true even in multiplayer, another quiet success. Essentially hide and seek, it’s also the closet we’ve had yet to multiplayer Hitman. Each player chooses a visual archetype from the AssBro world – the bird-masked doctors, sinister harlequins, prosthetic-armed nobleman, hooded executioners – then wades into a map full of clones of themselves, and of the other players. You’re then given assassination contracts – meant to hunt down a specific individual, with the job lost if you kill an innocent looky-likey. Meantime, you’re also being hunted by others. The trick is to act cool, because the increases both points and your chances of sneaking up on a target, whilst being aware and deft enough to avoid death. A little sprint in a corridor when no-one’s looking, a short-cut over a roof, a dive into a nearby haystack until trouble has passed… It’s a fevered mix of patience and panic, each session rich with an alternating sense of pride and great injustice.

It’s a little like The Ship, but without the open comedy (though there’s plenty of unintentional comedy when hits go wrong and a conga line of hapless assassins Benny Hill chase each other around town) or the breadth of weaponry. This is small, simple and clever: a heartpounding manhunt. Inevitably, levelling up and unlocks are involved, which certainly makes it more compulsive, but it sucks to be up against foes with more gadgetry than you. Fortunately, it rarely strays far from the essential hide and seek concept – there’s nothing even the highest-level target can do about a sudden lunge from the shadows. I don’t know how successful it will prove on PC, where we seem to crave more elaborate, precise multiplayer, but it makes a good fist of distilling Assassin’s Creed to its barest essence then rebuilding it with competitive play in mind. I’ll be popping into it quite a bit, I imagine.

I like AssBro a hell of a lot more than I’d ever expected I would. Partly that preconception was because it’s a version 2.5, and partly because even the previous game never quite worked for me despite being a vast improvement over its scatty parent. While fixing many of the first game’s many failings, AssCreed 2 didn’t seem to find the balance between focused action adventure and wide-open playground, and felt stranded in an unsure middleground. The tools were there, the projects to use them on were not. With all its distractions and its lightness of touch, AssBro is a bizarre game but also a sturdily confident one. It is capable of breaking apart many preconceptions about AssCreed games, and I have little in the way of real hesitation in recommending it. Even the DRM is relaxed enough to no longer raise any hackles – mandatory only at installation, for multiplayer and for access most of the DLC. Offline mode works just fine, although it would be preferable to entirely bypass the Ubisoft launcher and jump straight in the game instead of specifically requesting offline mode.

What a shame, and an indefensible one at that, that it’s taken so long to arrive on PC. Four months on from its console release, the buzz around it is all too quiet – so much so that I almost wonder why Ubisoft have bothered. I hope it sells well anyway, because it’s the best of the series so far and I’m enormously keen that we get to see future instalments reach PC. That said, those future instalments will presumably move to a new setting now. While I craved that come the end of AssCreed 2, now I feel the opposite – this Italy is a superb playground, and Ezio a fond companion. I’ll miss them both. First, though, there are at least forty-eight million side-missions and shopping quests to polish off. I shall be happy for some time yet.

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140 Comments »

  1. fr3d says:

    As much as I like the game the mouse acceleration and 16:9 issues just makes me want to throw my cup of coffee into the wall. I just don’t get how they can add nice textures and what not but not let people play without mouse acceleration or enjoy the wonders of other resolutions then 16:9.

    • Wulf says:

      …not even an INI option or anything to turn it off?

      Blargh.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      GAMEPAD.

    • fr3d says:

      @Wulf: Can’t find any ini files at least.
      @AndrewC: Only for driving/sports games and if I wanted to be forced to use a gamepad to play the game i would have done so on one of those toyboxes.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      I only use gamepads for Driving/Sports/Games-That-Are-Better-With-A-Gamepad games.

    • Dhatz says:

      I dont have problems with 16:9, major concern is why the shadows randomly shift into archaic nonsmoothed mess at several points and why cant i get rid of that lame AO.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Yeah, I don’t get the resistance to gamepads so many have. PCs have been using gamepads for some games since the 80s. Plug that sucker in and enjoy.

    • Vinraith says:

      No way to turn off mouse acceleration? That is a bummer. Damn.

      As to gamepads, they’re lovely for racing games but for something like this I prefer the feel and precision of the mouse/keyboard combination.

    • Jonathan says:

      @vinraith
      I think this (well, AC2) is actually a rare example where that kind of precision is unnecessary. For running and jumping, the analogue sticks are more than adequate (I find the sticks to be preferable, in fact, but that’s just me), and you don’t need any kind of accurate aim for attacks.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Jonathon

      I can only speak for myself, but I tried playing AC1 with both mouse/keyboard and gamepad and found the former far more comfortable and satisfying, control-wise. Even if the precision isn’t strictly necessary, its absence tends to bother me. Using a gamepad to control a game like this just feels inherently “clumsy” to me. Obviously it’s a personal taste thing, though.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      I would guess you are just more used to the speed of mouse look. I have had that impulse myself. In a game like this though there is absolutely no need for precision an in fact analog walking is rather important. I would guess if you played it with a pad for a few hours there would be no turning back.

    • Vinraith says:

      @StingingVelvet

      Well, we’ll certainly see. I enjoyed the first game too much not to pick this one up (now that the DRM is tolerable), and it sounds like I’m liable to be frustrated trying to play it with a mouse/keyboard. I certainly hope you’re right!

    • Phinor says:

      I almost got excited after reading this RPS article but forced mouse acceleration? I’ll pass every time.

    • noom says:

      Mouse acceleration is a blight on PC gaming, and it’s something that seems unlikely to ever raise its head as a significant concern; I imagine the vast majority of gamers are simply unaware of it and the devastating effect it has on their accuracy, instead living in constant dissapointment at their own percieved inability to aim well.

      We need some kind of awareness campaign perhaps… anybody willing to hand out flyers?

    • Urthman says:

      AndrewC, you’re perilously close to being That Guy described so well in Shamus Young’s fantastic article, “Why Don’t You Just Play on a Console?” Don’t be That Guy.

      http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=11066

      I’ve never owned a console, never played games with a controller. I suck at using my thumbs to play games. Assassin’s Creed 1 played great with mouse&keyboard. Trying to play AssBro with a gamepad would be no fun at all for me. (I finished Lara Croft & the Guardian of Light, Spider-Man Web of Shadows, and Psychonauts just fine with mouse&keyboard or just keyboard.)

      If someone asks about how well a game plays with mouse&keyboard, responding with “GAMEPAD” is just threadshitting.

    • Deano2099 says:

      I’m utterly cack-handed with a gamepad, to the point that I can’t manage to even play FPSs on console at all. I’m currently even struggling with Red Dead Redemption on 360.

      Despite all this, I played through the first two AC games on PC with a pad and they were perfect.

      Only use a pad for driving games you say? Right, then use one for this. Because AC:B is a driving game.

      I’m serious: you steer Ezio more than control him – point him in the right direction, hold down ‘accelerate’ (oops, sorry, ‘run’), change direction when you need to…

    • ScubaMonster says:

      I can play games with either mouse and keyboard or a gamepad. They each have their advantages and work better in different scenarios. I haven’t played any of the Ass Creed games, so I can’t speak of this specifically, but I am genuinely curious how you control a game that relies on adjusting your speed of movement with precision without an analog stick. In some games that would seem annoying. I guess maybe hold down a key to slow your walking? I don’t know how it works on PC. Those sorts of games I usually end up playing on a console. For a lot of these console port games that aren’t tailored to PC controls, I would think it would be problematic.

    • mejobloggs says:

      I really hate 16:9

      Been trying to buy a 16:10 laptop, but 16:9 has taken over the universe

      Makes my head explode in rage

      And mouse accelleration HNNNGGGGG better go take some heart tablets

    • Nikolaj says:

      Since nobody else seems to be willing, I guess I’ll bite the bullet and ask: what is mouse acceleration, and why is it a problem?

      Noom implies that the answer may also be the answer to why I suck at games, so I’m naturally interested. :)

    • Wulf says:

      @Nik

      http://cyborggaming.com/blog/post/2010/06/04/So-what-is-Mouse-Acceleration.aspx

      And it is evil. The last game I played that had mouse acceleration, I actually went into its INI files and turned it off before I even begun playing. I read up on how to do that before I started as I haven’t had the best experiences with mouse acceleration.

      In fact, if you use non-standard mouse or mouse-like peripherals, mouse acceleration can be hazardous to your sanity.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thermal Ions says:

      I haven’t found the mouse acceleration too much of an issue in SP – I seem to recall I turned the sensitivity setting down a notch or two.

      The MP however was off the scale – I turned mouse sensitivity down as low as it would go and it’s still annoying (but playable).

    • Commisar says:

      GGGGAMEPAD

    • TWeaK says:

      I must be one of the only people who actually likes mouse acceleration. That is, I like that I can enable it and disable it and also have some control on the level of acceleration via my mouse drivers. I never had a problem with accuracy due to it back in my CounterStrike days, in fact far from it – split-second 180 degree turns to a headshot are an art form.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Ahh, wonderful. I had been hoping the verdict would be positive. I’m currently enjoying the hell out of AC2 and I was wondering what I should play next. I’m also glad to see that I’m right to think a pad is the appropriate control scheme — I can never remember which key is which limb in the Ass Creed control madness.

    I don’t understand why the pigeons have to be so deformed though.

  3. pakoito says:

    I disliked the first one to the heart and wouldn’t even bother on the second, will this one restore my trust in Uñisoft?

    • Meat Circus says:

      Why wouldn’t you bother on the second?

      Ass Creed Bro feels like the logical conclusion that Ubi were slowly grasping towards in the first two: embrace and extend everything that worked in Ass Creed 2, turn up the epic, add enormous amounts of free-form content to discover, and end up with the best ridey-climby-stabby simulator ever.

      And most importantly: HAVE THE BORGIA TOWERS EXPLODE IN SLOW MOTION WHEN YOU LEAP OFF THEM.

      Lovely stuff.

    • Pani says:

      I played about half of the first and enjoyed what I played before I got bored.

      Really like the look of this one, and was waiting for the second to go on special offer.

      Should I play number 2 next or skip it and just go ahead and buy this one?

    • Meat Circus says:

      AssBro is the better game, but it’s also the second half of Ezio’s story. Your call.

    • godgoo says:

      @Pani

      play number 2, it was one of my favorites of last year, i personally really liked the story and character progression and I’m not sure you will take to the game world and central characters without that background and prior investment…

      …i might be wrong though.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Ass Creed 2 is utterly interminable for at least the first 4 hours though – worse than Prototype managed…

    • reticulate says:

      Trust me when I say this – AssCreed 2 is a fine game. It fixes practically everything wrong with the first one. It’s also the first half of Ezio’s story, so jumping in at Brotherhood might well make everything a bit hard to follow.

      That all said, AssBro is easily the best because, as said in the review, it’s one big huge playground. There’s a few bits that take you elsewhere, but otherwise you’re messing about in Rome for the entirety.

    • kyrieee says:

      I don’t think AC2 fixed everything about the first game. The repetition is still there, the only difference is that they changed the “flavour text” or dialogue as it may be. Instead of the missions being 100% identical they are slightly different set ups, but who cares because the gameplay is the same in 99% of the missions. Plus, the game is much longer!
      I would’ve been okay with the repetition if the combat had been as good as in Arkham Asylum, but it isn’t, and the free running just gets boring because it’s so automatic, and you do so god damned much of it. Personally I didn’t find the environments very immersive either. They look pretty, but you’re so disconnected from them, you’re just running on top of what might as well be boxes, you never inteact with the world. The buildings don’t feel like buildings, they feel like huge blocks with windows painted on.

      edit: oh and of course, it controls much worse than the first game with a mouse for some reason. It feels loose and floaty as all hell.

  4. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    I enjoyed the many hours I put into AC2 (the mouse acceleration didn’t bother me too much) so am tempted to go for AC3. How busy is the MP though?

    P.

  5. rocketman71 says:

    Only ONE check at installation?. Not one every time you launch the game?.

    Anyway, wot I think: no LAN. So no buy.

  6. Fwiffo says:

    Is there another barmy twist ending?

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      That’s enormously good news.

    • Premium User Badge

      Dolphan says:

      If anything, it’s even barmier.

    • Zamn10210 says:

      It is a whole new level of barminess. You don’t know barmy until you have finished this game.

    • el_Chi says:

      AssCreed 2: Hey, guess what!
      el_Chi: What?
      AssCreed 2: *Screams and rolls around in its own faeces, wanking over the twist(s) from Fahrenheit*
      el_Chi: Oh my.

    • Wulf says:

      SPOILERS!

      Yes, I said spoilers.

      You might want to search ‘SPOILERS END.’

      I actually found Assassin’s Creed 2′s ending (Let’s Play!) less barmy than Fahrenheit by a fairly massive degree. It was essentially a subversion of the StarGate franchise. Except instead of the Gods in question having pretended to create all life, they actually did. Though I find the AssCreed Gods far less interesting than I find the Goa’uld.

      I mean, yes, it is barmy, just nowhere near the levels of incredibly barmy and out of this world that Fahrenheit managed. “We’re sentient robots that were born from tubes – not test tubes, but the tubes of ancient computers. Now let’s revive this human and put a chip in his head that allows us to force him to walk awkwardly. Because hey, that might be useful. Now let’s go on a rampage and eliminate all life on Earth with a really big snowstorm. Except the old world governments and their Secret Shaman agents might actually stand in our way. Bloody Secret Shamans. When did the FBI start hiring Secret Shamans anyway? And yeah, the guy we brought back to the dead may try to stop us, but we did put that chip in his head to make him walk funny, so we’ll see who has the last laugh there!”

      Much, much barmier.

      Doo dee doo.

      Line.

      Line.

      Line.

      Line.

      SPOILERS END.

  7. Navagon says:

    Given the DRM is still too much and the game is not a very good port Ubisoft have some way to go yet.

    • Jonathan says:

      In what way, other than screen resolution, is it not a good port? I have no issues with AC2.

    • Gunrun says:

      How is the DRM still too much? It’s about as intrusive as steams.

    • Navagon says:

      If the game pretty much needs a controller because M&K support is so lacklustre then I wouldn’t call that a particularly good port, personally. Plenty of third person games are a lot, lot easier to play with M&K over a controller. The only times that’s not true is when we’re looking at an inadequate port.

      As for the DRM, it’s not comparisons to Steam that bother me, but rather the fact that from what I’ve read it’s more like EA’s Mass Effect 2 DRM. And we all know how that has turned out.

      If it was a third party online activation like Steam or even SecuROM then that wouldn’t be so bad. But I have absolutely no faith in Ubisoft whatsoever. If they can pull the plug on the game at any time then I see no reason to assume that they won’t. They’ve made it abundantly apparent that they enjoy shafting their customers just for the sheer hell of doing so. So no. Either it’s completely untied from Ubisoft or it’s not good enough.

    • malkav11 says:

      It still ties the game to activation servers that are unlikely to last as long as it does. Steam is not any more acceptable as DRM on all copies than this is. If I -choose- to buy the Steam version of a game that’s not inherently linked to Steam, on the other hand, so be it.

  8. FreakyZoid says:

    I thought it was a shame that from about the halfway point the story missions all go back to the linearity of AC1, and throw away everything they learned in the sequel.

    Working out exactly which hay bale I must hide in to allow me progress in the mission, when I have the previously mentioned death squad at my beck and call, isn’t really fun.

  9. d00d3n says:

    Some other brilliant gameplay additions:

    The synchronization game mechanic, which raises difficulty for those who want it while not fucking the game up for everybody else (without some silly difficulty slider that raises enemy health and damage output). This system alone explaines much of the addictive nature of the game.

    The freeform gameplay when taking down the borgia commanders. All of these missions were amazing. Everything crackdown has left is originality when you compare the system in that game with the system in brotherhood. For a sandbox game it offered unprecedented freedom of approach, unprecedented tension and at the same time fun and good pacing. Genious!

    • Jimbo says:

      Best game of 2010 for me, and the 100% synch mechanic they added had a lot to do with it.

      At the start of each mission you are given a set of optional mission parameters to follow – don’t touch the ground, don’t get spotted, don’t lose x health…. whatever- which represents how Ezio actually did it. You can ignore it and achieve the missions however you want, but if you want the game to play more ‘assassiny’ and less ‘rambo-y’ then it’s well worth giving them a go. If you don’t want to play like that or you’re getting frustrated with a certain mission then you can just ignore it – the game doesn’t punish you for doing so, and it doesn’t make that big a deal about coercing you into 100%ing every mission.

      This mechanic gives the individual player the flexibility to tweak the experience to their own taste without forcing it on everybpdy else. And for the most part these optional parameters are worked into the missions very smartly – they haven’t just arbitrarily added them. It almost feels like two different games running parallel to each other depending on how you decide to approach it, neither of which have been compromised by the other. Of course, this is only really made possible because the rest of the game mechanics are so slick that if you mess up a mission it’s because you messed up, and rarely the fault of bad controls or something like that.

    • Zhou says:

      I must say, the synch element was a negative for me for a good while. I have otherwise been loving the game (so much that the rsi is flairing up), but for a long time it felt like a frustrating distraction from the non-linearity of approach. This is more my fault than the game’s, to be fair, as I tend towards compulsive perfection when given half a chance. Being told that there was, in some sense, a “best” way of playing a certain mission bugged the hell out of me, when the rest of the game is very freeform in how you approach missions.

      I got over it after a while and realised I could play the way I wanted to and that I didn’t *need* to 100% every mission, but it was a sour note in a medley of honeyed gloriousness for a good while.

      For anyone who is oohing or aahing, grab this. Its by far the best Asscreed game thus far, and probably the strongest “actiony” game I’ve played in a while. Its not a sloppy port and its capable of looking really rather good, while playing as smoothly as you might like. After the pissabout of Shogun’s AA, its bloody nice just to have my 4x back…

      p.s. For anyone who is considering gamepad/mouse and keyboard, I wouldn’t normally argue for using a gamepad, but it seems admissable with this. Keyboard can certainly seem unusually clumsy at times, and its one of the very few elements of obvious portage that the combat, and to some extent the clambering-aboot, feels very gamepad oriented.

  10. omicron1 says:

    So.
    AssCreed 1 was Christopher Eccleston’s Series 1 – took itself a bit too seriously, but was the introduction to the whole concept for some of us.

    AssCreed 2 was David Tennant’s Series 2-4 – lightens up a bit, adding a fantastic humorous side in the process and enriching the whole experience.

    AssCreed Brotherhood is the 2009 specials – less substantial than normal, but marks the end of an era.

    …Going by this logic, AssCreed 3′s protagonist should wear a bowtie.

    • SprintJack says:

      Bowties are cool.

    • CMaster says:

      Victorian England for AssCreed 3 ?

    • Meat Circus says:

      AssBro is not insubstantial, but it’s definitely more frivolous. And that’s why it’s magnificent.

    • brulleks says:

      @Omicron1

      Oh God, I really want to do a response to this with a different game series that compares to my opinion on Dr Who, but I cannot think of a game trilogy in which the second game features a main character who is such a bounding, over-acting buffoon.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Gabriel Knight 2?

  11. zergrush says:

    It’s a wonderful game, there’s just so much fun stuff to do all the time, like in the previous one I can just go around doing all kinds of sidestuff and collecting treasures and whatever and only advance the plot when I get bored with sidequests or there is nothing on the map but an exclamation point.

    Also, setting the spoken language to Italian makes it way more fun / awesome.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      can you still read English subtitles? or would they be in Italiano too?

    • zergrush says:

      You can keep the subtitles in english, yes.

  12. Zaboomafoozarg says:

    What a shame, indeed.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Down Rodeo says:

    Ezio is one smooth motherfucker.

    I really rather want to play this, I thought ACII was great :)

  14. Daave says:

    Must. Resist. Buying…….

    Hopefully Shogun 2 can make me forget about a glowing review of a game I’d probably love :(

    • Vinraith says:

      Err, why are you resisting again?

      At this point Ubi’s backed the DRM down to sub-Steam levels. It’s a once-per-install online activation and that’s it.

    • Daave says:

      Lack of game-playing time and trying to save a bit of dosh.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Daave

      Ah, yeah, I understand that well enough. :)

  15. woodsey says:

    I too played it on the 360 when it first came out and really enjoyed it. Personally, I really enjoy the Sci-Fi elements and think they always push it just far enough (like Lost used to) so that it stays interesting, instead of feeling like they’re cheating with the story.

    My biggest complaint would be Ezio’s story this time around though; it really felt like a support for the overarching story with Desmond this time, although I found his sections far more interesting.

    Would like to see them try the social-stealth stuff again, it was an interesting concept but they seem to have decided to move away from it.

  16. abhishek says:

    An excellent game so far. Enjoying every minute of it.

  17. Aomis says:

    Any perticular gamepad do you recommend?

    Or are they all the same?

    I’ve always played mouse/keyboard, i’m into new grounds here.

    • Bostec says:

      The XBox 360 pad is usually the perfer pad to play these types of games.

    • zergrush says:

      The standard wired 360pad is the best option, with anything else you’re likely to have to use some sort of 360 controller emulator to have the pad behave properly with some games.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Yes, do not make the mistake of getting a wireless 360 pad for your PC, there are quite a number of games that don’t work right with it (including AC2 at launch).

      And the 360 controller is pretty much the only one to get for PC gaming right now. Many, many games only support that controller and it’s plug and play with every game you would need a controller for.

    • LimeWarrior says:

      PS3 controller all the way. I never liked the XBOX 360 beast. I have a PS3 controller that I connect to windows 7 through a bluetooth dongle. Get a program called Motion in Joy to connect the controller. Pair it up using this program. Motion in joy is fully customizable with multiple modes.

      Also, it has a mode that emulates an XBOX 360 controller. That way if you have a game that only talks to xbox controllers (i’m looking at you braid and super meat boy), you can still use a PS3 controller to play.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      The 360 controller is fantastic, so if you’ve used it before and get along with it OK, there’s no reason not to go for it with Windows.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Ever since Sony made the dual shock, they made the best gamepad period. For some reason some people bad mouth it, but I think that’s mostly Xbots. I refuse to buy fighting games on 360. Only way I’d consider it is if I bought an arcade stick but those are expensive. Every fighting game I own is on my PS3. It’s good for a lot more than just fighting games though (obviously).

      Note: I’m not saying the 360 gamepad is garbage, I own both a 360 and PS3. I just think the PS3 controller is a lot better. To each his own though.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I also own both, and infinitely prefer the 360 design…

    • Premium User Badge

      Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Yes, it’s lovely. Nice chunky handles, good analogue stick placement, pleasing triggers. It owes a lot to the pads that came before it (chiefly the Dreamcast pad and the Dualshock) but it’s the best that I’ve wrapped my cludgy mitts around yet.
      Not so great if you value having a decent D-pad, mind.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      I think that’s part of the reason, I use the D-pad a lot, as I play a lot of fighting games and can pull off moves more accurately than with a stick. In general though I still prefer the shape and design of the dual shock.

    • Barnaby says:

      I have a 360 controller that I use on my PC and it hurts the shit out of my hands after a while of playing. The left analog thing rubs my thumb in a really annoying way and one of the edges on the back right side bothers my pointer finger a lot. It’s probably one of the best controllers available but don’t be surprised if it makes your hands hurt like hell.

      I played through AC1 with m/kb and at no point felt the desire to plug in my controller.

      The comment about the PS3 controller seems like a pretty good suggestion.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Stellar Duck says:

    I find myself agreeing with pretty much the entire WIT when AssBro is concerned.

    I’ll prefer keyboard and mouse any day of the week, provided it works like in AssCreed 2.

    I have AssCreed 2 on both my PS3 (booh!) and my PC and every time I play on the PS3 I lament the fact I can’t use the stick controlling the camera due to not having an extra thumb. Having to hold down the X button to sprint prevents me from doing sharp turns.

    Compared to that it felt like I was completely free when I got it on PC. After a bit of fiddling to find the correct layout I was able to run, sprint and look around to my hearts content. It was complete freedom compared to that silly pad on my PS3.

    Then I bought AssBro on PS3 and suddenly remembered how the controls sucked. Now I find myself contemplating buying it on PC just so I can enjoy the damn game.

    So if you like being able to control your guy I recommend keyboard and mouse.

    (Or am I missing something on the PS3? Am I able to press both X and turn the stick and I’m just to stupid to do it?)

    • StingingVelvet says:

      If you play it on PC with an Xbox controller I believe the right trigger sprints, leaving both thumbs available.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      I see. Well that would help a lot. Though I would have to buy a 360 controller to do it. Or I could possibly use the one I have for my 360. Don’t know if that one would work. Still, it’s close to perfect with the mouse for me, so there is not a lot of reason.

      Is the same thing the case if you play the game on the 360? If so, it makes no sense for the buttons to be mapped the way they are on the PS3.

      I must wonder why you can’t just remap the controls on the PS3 though. You’d think that with all that power they keep bragging that it has, somewhere there would be room to put in a bit of textfile with mappings. :D

    • zergrush says:

      No need to buy a 360 controller if you already own a DS3, there’s a custom driver / software to use it on windows called MotionInJoy, it’s pretty easy to setup and comes with a built-in 360 controller emulator. If you have a compatible bluetooth dongle you can even use it wireless.

      And there’s no difference between 360 or PS3 controls, the right trigger is the standard sprinting but you still have to press A or X to do the sprintier sprinting.

    • Jad says:

      Though I would have to buy a 360 controller to do it. Or I could possibly use the one I have for my 360.

      If you have a wired 360 controller it should work on your PC with no issues. Might have to install a driver or something. If its a wireless 360 then you’ll have to buy a special wireless dongle, and they unfortunately are somewhat expensive.

      It would be strange if the PS3 and 360 button mapping were that different.

    • zergrush says:

      The wireless dongle is just not worth it, It has problems with games that support the wired pad natively and sometimes you have to use a 360wired pad emulator to make it work properly.
      ( it happened with AC2, for example )

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      Thanks for the comments guys! I’ve never really had much incentive to look into using controllers on my PC, so it’s great to actually get some information on the subject.

      I use mouse and keyboard for almost everything, and I have my Sidewinder for when I need to shoot stuff in space or in the air.

      And @zergrush:

      It’s precisely pressing A or X on the pad I find to be the problem. It means that I can’t look around when free running across the roof tops. Or at least not very easily.
      But I might just be a terrible console gamer. I guess 16 years of PC gaming means that my muscle memory is a lot better there than playing on my consoles a couple of times a year.

    • soundofvictory says:

      @Stellar Duck

      Do not lament, for there are ways to make your PC think that a USB-connected PS3 gamepad is a 360-pad. There is a minimally sketchy piece of emulation/virtualization software that can be found by at MotionInJoy. I have been using this thing for about a year and it has only gotten better through regular updates. It has a lot more to offer than Xbox 360 gamepad emulation too.

    • zergrush says:

      Can’t really comment on that looking around issue because I almost never control the camera directly on AC2/ACB. I only need to move it when it gets in some weird angles during fights or I happen to be specifically looking for stuff, but for running the auto-camera usually works pretty well.

      And the fact that before AC2 I had already played infamous and prototype that happen to also need button presses when parkouring around the city due to constant jumping or having to hold a button to stick to stuff probably got me used to simply stopping when I need to look around.

      @soundofvictory
      Yep, motioninjoy is pretty useful, after I started to use it I even gave my old 360 pad away ( the only bad thing about it is that it messes up the regular 360 pad drivers ).

    • yourgrandma says:

      personally i use this http://code.google.com/p/x360ce/ but i’ll give motionjoy a shot…

  19. Shroom says:

    Well, I shall do the same as I did for the last one: wait ’til the price drops to £10. How long does that take for major PC releases these days, like 2 months? I love the PC game economy at the moment! Hopefully might have finished ACII by then.

    Also by god do I miss it when The Ship servers used to be even semi-populated, I thougt that game was terribly under-rated and an absolute riot. Sad stuff.

  20. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Huh. The problem is I didn’t pick up Assassins Creed 2 due to the silly DRM, and while I know that’s been removed, that now means I have to buy both 2 and Brotherhood if I want to get back into the series, and given the amount of people who were complaining about the DRM when 2 came out, saying they’d never buy an Ubisoft game again until they dropped it, I imagine I’m not in anything less than a significant minority here. So I’m just guna sit back and wait for a Steam sale now.

    Of course if Ubisoft had been smart about it they’d have put on some kind of 50-75% off deal on steam for the second game the week of AssCreedBro’s release, but apparently they either aren’t or they really just couldn’t care less how it does on the PC at this point.

    The most infuriating thing is that Assassin’s Creed 2 actually went on sale over Christmas, but only for the day before it was announced that the DRM was off, so by the time that announcement hit it was back to being 20 quid on steam again… just why Ubisoft!? I swear they’re just trolling us now -_-

    • PaulMorel says:

      AC2 is easily worth $20 (or whatever silly money you brits use). It took me 39 hours to do everything in the game (except only 60/100 feathers collected) … and then there were still a bunch of random-NPC side quests still available. I was sad when I finished the story (and the DLC). It left me wanting more.

    • abhishek says:

      Seconded. AC2 is nothing short of fucking fantastic, and I’d easily recommend it at full price as well, so whatever lowered price it’s available for now is still a great deal.

  21. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    I never played AC1, just AC2, and so far, the scifi elements seem to be a complete McGuffin that has no affect on the game at all. You could easily strip those bits out. Does it change? (Er, no spoilers please!)

    P.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      The first one was much bigger on the ‘present day’ stuff – properly forcing you to leave the animus at the end of each chapter and stuff. This got lots of complaints (and, well, those bits are a touch dull), so they cut a lot of it back and made even more only voluntary. This probably makes it seem a bit like an appendix.

    • PaulMorel says:

      Well, the present-day bits have been filler SO FAR. I’d bet dollars to donuts that Desmond is the main character in AC3 … or in some future AC game.

    • woodsey says:

      Make sure you do all the glyph puzzles in Brotherhood and – assuming you’ve finished AC2 – you should start seeing quite how important the ancestor aspect is to Desmond’s story.

      Honestly, I really like that side of it and find it really interesting. Agreed that Desmond is definitely being set up for his own game, if not half of it (my bet is half and half with him and an ancestor in AC3).

    • Deano2099 says:

      There’s a bit more of it in Brotherhood.

      Also am ridiculously excited about an AC set in the modern day / near future.

  22. Premium User Badge

    liquidsoap89 says:

    Not even a mention of the improvements to combat!?! The execution chains are literally the best addition to the series over ANYTHING ELSE!

    AssCreed 1… “alright 15 guys show up for me to fight… Sweet, I’m gonna be here for an hour…”
    AssCreed 2… “HAHA DISARM… HAHA CLUB TO THE HEAD! DAMMIT 15 MORE GUYS!”
    AssCreed 3… “MORE!!! I NEED MORE!!! SEND EVERYONE! I NEED THIS CHAIN TO NEVER END! . AAAAAAAHHHHHHH THE POWEERRRRR!”

    But seriously, getting those chains was one of the most satisfying things I have done in a LONG time! Seeing Ezio stab, bludgeon, shoot and all around DESTROY a group of guards in a matter of seconds is going to be very difficult to top on the awesomeness meter for quite a while…

    • Sivart13 says:

      The combination of Execution Chains + Brotherhood Recruits make it more easy/fun to rambo yourself out of a wanted level than ever before. I’m surprised the former wasn’t mentioned in the WoT.

  23. Premium User Badge

    dbdkmezz says:

    I’ve not played any of the earlier ones (partly because of DRM, but mainly because I don’t play many games), but thanks to this review this has grabbed my interest. How much will I be missing if this is the first AssCreed game I play? Will the plot make any sense to me? does it even matter if it doesn’t?

    • zergrush says:

      The second one is pretty good, by getting only Brotherhood you’ll miss half of the character’s story and a lot of the context.

      I think it’s worth getting, and I believe the DRM has been somewhat toned down on that one too?

    • PaulMorel says:

      Yeah, the second game is actually really good, imho. The only bad parts are the Prince of Persia dungeons, but only 6 of those are required, and there are only … 8 in the game, iirc.

      I thought AC2 was good enough to preorder this game.

    • Meat Circus says:

      I *loved* the PoP-dungeons in AssCreed and AssBro. Ubi’s finest platforming since Sands of Time.

    • zergrush says:

      Agreed with Meat Circus.

      The bit with Desmond at the beginning of ACB was pretty cool too. Hope there’s more of those.

  24. bluebomberman says:

    I’m astounded that no one seems to be bothered anymore by the combat, which is often still “bunch of guys surround you and sing kumbaya and watch you kill one guy in a gruesome manner for a half-minute.”

    • Deano2099 says:

      I think AC:B improves on that. You can auto-kill one enemy if you hit the right button as you kill the previous one, so rather than just standing there guarding until someone attacks, then countering, you hit one guy, then chain kill all the others, being sure to watch carefully and counter anyone that does make a move. It’s a lot better.

    • DOLBYdigital says:

      From the videos I’ve seen, its still a massive disappointment to watch the enemies wait and only attack you one at a time. It just makes the fighting seem very dull and unrealistic. A proper assassin/ninja like game should make all out fighting/brawls hard since their specialty should be sneaky kills, not all out brawling.

    • karthink says:

      @DOLBYdigital:
      “A proper assassin/ninja like game” this is not. That is one of the preconceptions Alec said we need to get past. Ezio is a warrior, through and through. Following canon, most other members of the assassin order are also either mercenaries or warriors.

      As for the difficulty, fighting four papal guards at once (not spoiled in any of the trailers) is sufficiently harrowing.

      Another way to think of the protagonist is as Batman in Arkham Asylum. Equal parts stealthy and facepunchy; the stealth is mostly by choice, not necessity.

    • Iucounu says:

      As someone who has played this to completion on the PS3: I simply didn’t see a problem with the combat AI. It is (apart from quite a boring first hour or two) one of the best games I’ve played in the last year or so.

  25. Huw_Dawson says:

    This does fall into that Game Design Nirvana alongside the somewhat similar Batman: Arkham Asylum, really. Both are exceedingly well-polished games that make very few mistakes.

  26. matt606 says:

    If anyone’s interested, I made a Steam group for Assbro, http://steamcommunity.com/groups/bcam

  27. therighttoarmbears says:

    I’m regularly reminded of the fact that this is the best written game site on our interconnected computing device. If you could write appraisals of this caliber about even the most boring topics – I would read them. Keep up the good work.

  28. Stinkfinger75 says:

    I never understood the controller hate in the PC community. To me a controller doesn’t mean sacrificing a PC games’ controls or bowing to the console overlords. It provides the ability to kick back and enjoy a game you like rather than hunching over a keyboard and trying to hold down a couple different keys to do something that can be done with a gentle nudge of an analog stick.

    • CMaster says:

      @Stink
      It’s actually a fairly modern thing. PC gaming used to be the den of many varied controls. When I was younger, all the magazines were full of reviews for gamepads, joysticks, wheels (and pedals) even flight yokes and crazier stuff. I had an old Gravis gamepad that made playing platformers and SHMUPS much more fun – miles ahead of the console controllers at the time). But nowadays you see all this “if it can’t be played with M+K, it must be childish junk” nonsense being spoken. The mouse is a great input device – but it sure as hell isn’t suitable for everything, while the keyboard has a very long list of shortcomings as a gaming controller – it’s only real strength is the massive number of buttons and that you don’t have to switch to something else for typing.

      Oh, and did you know you can control games with your mind (and a mouse) now?

    • Tei says:

      I have bough one, and tried to use it. Can’t. So I can’t use games that force his use. Fortunally no games release that way.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Count me in the “why so anti-gamepad?” camp too. I mean, I’m not going to play a FPS with one but this kind of game, it’s no big deal.

    • Dominic White says:

      I remember when there was a new type of controller coming out every other month for the PC, and everyone seemed to love it. Now they’ve finally settled on a couple of vaguely standardized gamepad designs that you can be sure will work on most games, and suddenly it’s too consolized? Seriously?

      I know a few people who refuse to play driving games with a gamepad, because they’re so convinced that mouse/keyboard are the best thing ever that they’ll eschew analogue control altogether.

    • Stinkfinger75 says:

      @drewski

      See, I only like to play FPSs using a controller (mainly TF2 and L4D2). It’s not like my skills would be world class caliber using a keyboard/mouse combo so I prefer comfort to what probably wouldn’t amount to a higher score anyway.

      As far as single player FPSs go I can’t see any reason not to use a controller. From the complex controls of Stalker to the relative simplicity of Minecraft, I think any FPS benefits from a controller.

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      I don’t have any reason to hate a gamepad or controller unless I’m forced to use it. Where there is choice there is no contention. I could suggest that the design of games for consoles and by extension controllers means that you get lots of context sensitive buttons which are not required on keyboard/mouse. This is perfectly exampled in Assassins Creed as the space bar / A on Xbox360 button does three things: climb, jump and sprint, all at once. Now it’s not a terrible cross over but it does mean that you’ll be sprinting down the street after a pick pocket and suddenly your character interprets a slight twitch towards a wall as ‘climb’ and before you know it you’ve lost the target. If you look at the control setup for Batman:AA, you’ll see a couple of context sensitive commands but the beauty there is that they can be rebound individually (so ‘one button does two things’ can become two buttons that do two things). This is the kind of choice I would like to see in more console ports, despite everything being just about fine with Assassins Creed 2 and so I assume so for AssBros.

      I am personally fucking awful at using a controller for most things.

      While I don’t want to lambast your personal experience, I do think FPS games are much more enabled by keyboard and mouse controls.
      My reasoning: FPS work better with a mouse is because of 1:1 movement mapping as you look about. For a lot of shooty games on the console the featuring of aiming works as a high/low sensitivity function. As you are looking about a larger area you’re on high sensitivity then you draw the gun to your eye to aim and drop to low sensitivity for accuracy. Mouse users get that accuracy from just… moving less. I would point to the launch of Halo (yes Halo one) cross platform servers as an example of the dominance Keyboard and mouse has over controllers.
      Also in any FPS video you can tell a mile off when they are using a controller. The fixed turn rate, the slighty blockier more geometric lines of looking and the inability to quicking pivot.

  29. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    Is there any GFW(L) component here? What’s the mutliplayer lobby/matchmaking/etc like?

    • JohnnyK says:

      It uses uplay, Ubi’s attempt at matchmaking/friendslist/whatever.

      So far the results are mixed, theres lots of people with connection issues, but I have had no real problem getting in games so far.
      The MP is definitely fresh, although I haven’t quite worked a few things out – eg. there’s quite a lot of distance a pursuer can cover when chasing you (sometimes “teleport me 50 feet”-stuff), and stunning pursuers really only seems to work when you already smokebombed them. But it might just be my lack of skill.

  30. DigitalSignalX says:

    For the record, AssBro still takes 5 key presses to exit to desktop. That’s about 2 presses too many IMHO.

  31. Ballistic says:

    Couldn’t find it in the replies, but if you turn off Pointer Precision in your mouse options, it goes a long way to making the experience a little more bearable, and by a little, I mean a lot.

    Unless you already have it turned off and still find it unbearable.

    Anyway, great game. Having a blast with it.

  32. KyrenCross says:

    I love the new NPC animations. Some are subtle and others more perverse, like the Motorboating NPC in the INN. ^_^

  33. Premium User Badge

    It's not me it's you says:

    So could anyone who owns AC2 confirm one way or the other whether the DRM on that was relaxed? I’ve been wanting to play it and I’d buy it right now if I could get some confirmation. The googles are less than useful in this as they only really give me stories from early ’10, when the game was released with the DRM.

    • AlexW says:

      The DRM has definitely relaxed. I’ve played for a few minutes without an Internet connection a couple of times in the past few days of binge-AC:B without it saying “Nope, sorry, going back to last checkpoint,” and although the launcher does ask you to be online for it, as mentioned above it has an offline mode (that I haven’t tried).

      Plus, it’s goddamn awesome aside from a very few select spots, so you should buy it and play it even if it asks you to recite an oath to serve Satan every time.

    • Premium User Badge

      It's not me it's you says:

      Sorry, I should have highlighted this more in my original question – I was asking about the DRM on Assassin’s Creed 2. I have a hard time getting myself to buy and start on AC:B knowing I have missed the first half of the story, so I kind of want to play AC2 first.

    • AlexW says:

      Oh right. Sorry, I misinterpreted. Well, you could get some of the plot by the intro video in AC:B and a few missions with callbacks, but even if AC2 is morally compromised by the DRM still being up (and I’d be willing to believe them that it’s just an on-startup check) the DRM wasn’t that bad, just brief non-destructive breaks for me a couple of times in all the time I’ve played it. On top of that it’s still at least twenty hours of gameplay for a mostly plot-mission playthrough, which makes it at most £1/hr of a very fun and interesting game with a great soundtrack and beautiful atmosphere. That’s cheaper than guilty-pleasure movies by a fair bit.

    • Premium User Badge

      It's not me it's you says:

      Ah it’s not the money at all, I’d have bought it full price if the DRM hadn’t been as irritating as it is. I’m not too worried about how it’d actually affect my gameplay, as I have a permanent net connection that isn’t prone to dropping out but some things just aren’t cricket (as I hear they say in some places) and as such I wouldn’t buy it if it’s still permanently on. Do you have a link or something of the claim it’s not just a startup check? Because that’d fall below my DRM-too-annoying-to-buy line, though not by much.

      I’m irritatingly compulsive about playing games in the right order so I doubt I’ll jump into AC:B figuring it’ll tell me the plot of AC2 anyways (spoilers, you see!). If you (or indeed anyone) could find some sort of statement that shows AC2 now just has a startup check (contrary to the warning on Steam which states it still requires a permanent connection) then I’ll be on my way to purchase AC2 and probably AC:B as well.

  34. FerretWithASpork says:

    I must say Alec, this is my favourite review of a game ever… And not JUST because it had the word Ass 43 times (Counting the title, and yes “assassin” counts as 2). I totally agree about the game-pad. I bought AssBro, played for 5 minutes, then went to Best Buy and bought a wired 360 controller. In the spirit of the “2.5″ game… I played AssCreed on PC, AssCreed 2 on 360, and now AssBro on PC with a 360 controller :P

    -JD

  35. non_entity says:

    Great game. As much an improvement over AC2 as AC2 was over AC1.
    AC 1 was horribly repetive, boring and it nearly turned me off the franchise. AC2 fixed all that, streamlined the game, made everything more fun. ACBrohood did that even more.
    Actually the only bad thing I can say about it is that it’s too short. Yes, it’s longer than I thought it’d be (I feared it was mainly a Multiplayer game with a stacked on short Singleplayer) but it’s still shorter, the story less epic than AC2.
    I love that Desmond is becoming a bit less bland, more interesting and the story progresses. I actually hope AC3 will feature mainly Desmond as the main character, maybe hopping into different ancestors’ memories to gather a new skill, a new bit of information here and there. But I feel that the story has progressed to the point that
    - Desmond is a full-fledged Assassin, thanks to the bleedthrough effect
    - there is not much more to be gained from going back to his ancestors’ memories. Ezio’s Piece of Eden didn’t move/change since he put it there, they should be able to gather all information they need from this one.
    - Lucy got stabbed, Desmond fell into a shock as a result, the war between Assassins and Abstergo is all-out in modern times… I think it’s time to have the game play in the NOW, not on some other ancestor in 1823 or whatever.

    Ezio is a good character and after having left Rodrigo Borgia alive the story felt unfinished, so I was fine with another dose of Ezio. But now we’ve lived through all his live, he’s what, 50, 55, something at the end of Brotherhood, quite old for this time. He has to sire his heir soon and after that his storyline will be done, no longer accessible. There’s not really much point in going back to Ezio, let the old boy rest.
    Also, I was surprised the Multiplayer is as much fun. It’s the first time I enjoy the Multiplayer in a game in years, other than of course MMOs.

  36. Dominic White says:

    I really think that the original Assassins creed caught way more flak online than it really should have. It was by no means perfect, but the way people talked about it was absolutely vicious, to the point of hurling some very personal abuse at the design leads.

    People were going ballistic before it even came out. I remember a lot of almighty nerd-rage the moment they announced the sci-fi metaplot (which has turned out to be rather cool in the long-run – I dig the historical puzzle segments to unlock background on the whole secret war), and when it turned out that it was nothing like Hitman or Thief, people got angrier still.

    It’s still nothing like Hitman or Thief, and the sci-fi stuff is stronger than ever, and yet the series is widely loved now. I really do think that its rise to success has been as much a matter of people adjusting their expectations and curbing incoherent anger as it is an increase in quality between titles.