Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One of the Brotherhood

Time for a short commercial break from your normal WoW broadcasting.  Every now and then I like to mention the other games I'm playing, especially if they're noteworthy.  Yesterday marked the release of a game I'd been eagerly anticipating for some time: Assassin's Creed Brotherhood.  Dutifully, I meandered into Best Buy yesterday and picked it up.  We had a rather busy evening, what with a domestic dinner out with friends and finishing off the newest elemental mini-bosses/quests (I wanted to get those done quickly lest they go away), so I didn't get to spend as much time familiarizing myself with ACB as I would have liked.

I did, however, get to try out the multiplayer.  I have to say, that it could easily become more addicting for me (and perhaps others) than any sort of Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Goldeneye...  Not that it's necessarily better, just that it's right up my alley.  But before I get into that, let me give you a brief overview of the game/series for those that might not be as familiar with it.

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood is most accurately described, in my opinion, as an expansion of Assassin's Creed II.  Each numbered version of Assassin's Creed usually represents a leap forward through history of Desmond Miles, the game's main protagonist.  Through Desmond's eyes, and time spent in the Animus (the technologically advanced vehicle that drives the game and is the basis of our interaction), we see his genetic memories from past lives.  The original Assassin's Creed found us in the era of the Crusades, in the middle east.  ACII jumped ahead to the Italian Renaissance.  ACB, not being the next "numerical" sequel, is still set in the same time period as ACII.  It basically continues the story from that era, adding new cities to explore, and, most importantly, a multiplayer mode.  Hence why I call it more of an expansion than a successor.  It really is expanding the game we had in ACII, reutilizing main characters, plot hooks, and the like.  It is important to note, though, that the game is standalone.  You do not need ACII to appreciate ACB.  In fact, they have a nice little "recap" at the start of the story mode if you're just coming on board.  Be warned, the overarching plot can seem quite convoluted however, what with giant evil corporations and a strange, perhaps alien race leading us by the nose.  Great stuff, if you ask me.

In any case, the short story is that ACB picks up where ACII left off.  We're still Desmond as Ezio Auditore.  We're still an assassin.  We're still tasked with exploring renaissance cities. Good stuff.  I haven't done very much more than start the story mode, but I'm excited to see where it leads.

I did get to try the multiplayer mode, as mentioned.  I only really got through the introduction and a couple matches, but man am I hooked.  The AC series has always been about the single player story, and I think Ubisoft has done a stellar job with it.  The addition of a multiplayer mode may almost seem an afterthought, but so far it appears to have been done extremely well.  So well, that I could see this becoming a major time sink for a lot of gamers.  It really offers something different from a lot of the PvP, third person action that we see on the market.  After all, aren't almost all of them shooters?

In ACB, you take the role of an Abstergo (evil corporation representing modern day Templar) trainee, thrown into the Animus to learn assassination technique via the "bleeding effect" of the simulation.  Sound crazy?  It is.  There's a nice little intro that sort of ties it into lore, but at the end of the day what we're setting the stage for is a cutthroat, multiplayer assassination environment.  I absolutely love it.

You're dropped into a city as one of several choices of playable characters.  Then you're given a "contract", or a target to go kill in the form of a portrait on the screen.  You have to wander around the city with the aid of your radar and find this person to kill.  The radar sort of works as a "hot or cold" reading, telling you when you're close.  Once you get close, it's up to you to identify your target, which is not as easy as it sounds since the city is populated by look alikes.  You have judge based on behavior, which is no easy task, let me assure you.  Good players will find extremely clever ways to blend in.

At the same time, you may be the target of a contract as well.  The hunter can also be hunted, so you have to watch your back.  What you end up with is a delicious, gigantic, pakour running, free city exploring, face remembering, game of cat and mouse.  Different kills net you different amounts of points, with a true stealth kill getting you the most.  Killing an innocent civilian nets you a loss of contract, so choose wisely.  Escaping someone who's after you nets you points too.  It's great.

There is a levelling path as well, unlocking nifty little perks along the way.  The first one you get, Disguise, is immediately useful.  Recall everything is based on matching you to your portrait, and then imagine your pursuer has you pegged.  He breaks from cover to come kill you, alerting you with a blinking red arrow that's he's coming (shoulda been more calm and stayed incognito, thus not giving you the chance to run, but it happens).  You take off across a rooftop, drop down, breaking his line of sight, and then pop on your disguise and stand with a crowd.  You see your would-be assassin behind you, confused, and in his confusion, he kills a civilian that looks exactly like you used to look before you popped your disguise trinket.  He loses the contract and the points, freeing you, and after your disguise wears off a short 10 seconds later, you're back on the prowl.  Totally an adrenaline rush in a way that's completely different from any shooter I've played.

The gameplay is just addictive.  The stalking.  The hiding.  The eluding.  The escaping.  It seems that leading the game makes you more likely to be targeted, sometimes by multiple people.  Just awesome.  The hunter literally becoming the hunted.  What a great idea for a game, and I haven't even touched the story which is usually top notch.

All in all, well worth the money spent.  This game will definitely tide me over until Cataclysm and then some.  I love this franchise, and my respect for Ubisoft continues to grow.  They really have had what I opine as some truly revolutionary ideas.  In a world dominated by third person shooters, I really think this game brings something fresh to the table.  Highly reccomended.

Now back to your normally scheduled WoW coverage.  :-)

3 comments:

  1. I am a huge fan of the Assassin's Creed games. (Just listen to my podcast this week, I damn near deify the franchise.)

    I bought Brotherhood release day because target was giving away a badass T-shirt for free with purchase, even though I'm not really able to play it for the next couple weeks. That said, I sat down with the multiplayer for a couple hours last night and had to tear myself away from it to go to sleep.

    Absolutey amazing, completely unlike anything I've ever played before. Glad you're enjoying it.

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  2. I didn't see the release coming, perhaps because my spare time doesn't allow to play to many games at once, but I clearly noticed the release of the new Assassins Creed due a lack of present gamer in our school.

    Maybe I should buy minecraft.

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  3. @Samo - Man, I want a cool T-shirt. Love the franchise too.

    @Vas - I don't know much about minecraft, but ACB is totally worth it. Though, I have a tough time squeezing time in as well.

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