After Hours

Geek Gifts 2011: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood isn't the newest video game on the market, but it will provide you with hours of visual and mental entertainment.

The Assassin's Creed series has been around since 2007, and Brotherhood was the third major release for PS3 and Xbox 360 in November 2010. It was also released in March 2011 for Microsoft Windows, and then two months later for Mac OS X. This third-person action-adventure game, developed and published by Ubisoft, takes place in Rome during the Renaissance era.

People who have played Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed II will recognize the characters and elements of gameplay within the Brotherhood storyline. In fact, Brotherhood is the sequel to Assassin's Creed II — the second installment in a trilogy, with the third (called Assassin's Creed: Revelations) to be released in November 2011 - but previous experience with the series isn't required to appreciate the game.

In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, the main protagonist, Desmond Miles, is hooked up to a contraption called an Animus to virtually recover information about his assassin ancestor, Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The story weaves both fact and fiction, as it was actually inspired by historical and religious events and characters. This game is both interesting and challenging, from missions to puzzles to managing a team of assassins. Plus, this is the first installment that offers an online multiplayer mode.

Specifications

New features

  • New gadgets, including parachutes from Leonardo da Vinci
  • Management system, where Ezio recruits assassins to complete side missions
  • Online multiplayer mode

What I like

  • Sandbox-style gameplay: Nonlinear gameplay means that you can complete challenges and missions in any order you choose. You can easily navigate the map, zero in on locations, and select the order of things to accomplish, according to your preference.
  • Various weapons and attack abilities: Hidden blades, guns, poison darts, bombs, crossbows, daggers, axes, throwing knives, butcher knives, fists... there are a ton of different weapons, ammunition, and armor available at Blacksmith locations throughout the maps.
  • Mental calisthenics: One of my favorite parts of the Assassin's Creed series is the glyphs, and Brotherhood provides a new barrage of puzzles to test your mental acuity. With each successfully solved glyph, another Truth puzzle cluster is revealed. This "Truth," interestingly enough, shows a pre-human civilization with alien technology.
  • Graphics: The setting and scenes are beautiful, especially when Ezio stands on the top of the towers' ledges and the camera pans around at the surrounding area. The developers and artistic team behind this game truly need to be applauded.

What I don't like

  • No squatting! I know this may sound trite, but assassins should be able to squat down to hide and keep themselves from being seen. I found myself hiding behind buildings or blending in a crowd to remain stealthy, but there were several times a good squat would have really come in handy.
  • I'm not a fan of the multiplayer mode - of course, this could be because I didn't play it very often and wasn't very good at it (those two reasons go hand-in-hand). I understand the appeal of multiplayer mode, especially for folks who like to play online with their friends or show off their mad skills to complete strangers. Multiplayer mode also allows you to select different characters and game modes, and if you're good (ahem), you can unlock rewards and gain new levels. Again, my ding here is based purely on personal preference. Maybe if the assassins could select to kill zombies, multiplayer mode would win my heart.

Geek Gift bottom line

Assassin's Creed: Revelation is right around the corner, but Brotherhood is one that I would still highly recommend, especially now that you can purchase it at a reduced price on Amazon or even pick up a used copy at your local GameStop. When I was researching this title, I saw it advertized 40+ hours of single-player gameplay, and I believe every hour of it - and maybe even more if you spend a lot of time investigating the maps or have difficulty solving the glyph puzzles. That's a lot of bang (stab and slash) for your buck!

Geek Gift Score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: *****
  • Geek Factor: ***
  • Value: *****
  • Overall: *****

For more reviews of tech gadgets, gizmos, games, and books, download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2011.

About

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox