Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. It’s a game that triggered my scepticsm alert. How could Ezio’s story get any more interesting after the ending of Assassin’s Creed II, which was monocle-poppingly surprising? The answer is: It really doesn’t. But the meat of the game’s story are the small revelations in Desmond’s.
Nevertheless, I bought it and have been playing it, mostly because it’s a better game than Witcher 2. It has more interesting interactivity and the game world is consistent (via cheating, as it is made by the Animus). But as I have played it more and more, I’m starting to see the development history of the game and it’s series. And what I’m seeing is somewhat disheartening. The game world is full of ultimately meaningless stuff. Three types of collectibles, two time-sink gameplay elements and two types of hidden places. Plus all the side missions, both small and large. The main storyline is suffocating under the free sandbox stuff. As I was running around, collecting Borgia flags and feathers while waiting for my investments to pay off so I could buy more landmarks, I began to compare Brotherhood to the original Assassin’s Creed, which I was playing simultaneously, and Assassin’s Creed II.
The first Assassin’s Creed was a new game. The concept and the gameplay were untested and the usual deadline cut off some of the planned features. But all of the more important mechanics were incorporated. The result was a success: The half-scifi story was interesting, the free-running felt wonderful and the assassinations were golden. The game had a slew of simple submissions, all of which offered new information about the target of each primary target. There were also collectible flags, but they were hidden in the huge game areas without any clues and finding them was the job of a madman. The subgames also tended to repeat themselves, but that wasn’t a big problem. The assassinations were relatively rare, so the fun parts had to be patiently seeked out. But overall, the mistakes did not topple the game.
Now Ubisoft had an engine. Everyone were waiting for a sequel a bit closer in the history. Ubisoft made a new game that fixed all that did not work in the previous game and added more features. The result was Assassin’s Creed II. To me, that was perfect. The freerunning was sleeker, fighting better, missions more interesting and there were few things to do that were not related to the main storyline. I played it, unlocked 100%. Then I waited for another game in the series, perhaps the rumoured one where you play as a female Assassin in London during the second world war.
But firearms would change the game. Assassin’s have always leapt on their target, employing the hidden blade to strike their necks. In a time of swords and bows that would work with a bit of suppression of disbelief. But in the time where death is dealt with ranged weapons, how can we get the same feeling? The answer is: With work. And time. But the Assassin’s Creed brand did not have time. To prevent it from fading from the publicity, a new game would have to enter the fray. An expansion. And that game was Brotherhood.
Assassin’s Creed II was already perfect. There was nothing to improve, only add. So Ubisoft added. They added features. The Assassin student mechanic. The Leonardo Da Vinci’s war machine vehicle sections. The Global Rome Economy thing. And more elaboration on Ezio’s life after the Revelation. None of those things improved the game: They are merely time sinks, designed to keep the player playing. As they served no greater purpose, I resented them. Especially when they eat more of my time than designed. I’m looking at you, Tank’s full synchronization. Brotherhood feels like it is just an overblown expansion with nothing substantial to give. (Though I reserve the right to change my mind, as I have not finished it yet.)
And now, Assassin’s Creed Revelations. More of Ezio. I have enough of him. I want to be a new Assassin, in a new time. Even though the gameplay would probably have to change to accomodate the evolving technology, I would still like a new take on the series. Because this well is dry.