|Publisher: Ubisoft Genre: Action|
|Min OS X: 10.5|
|Assassin's Creed Brotherhood Deluxe Edition|
August 4, 2011 | Jon Carr
Requirements:Mac OS X: 10.5 / 10.6 | CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 3.06 GHz | RAM: 3 GB | HD Space: 9 GB Graphics: 256 MB Dedicated Shader model 3.0 or higher (ATI RADEON HD 4000/5000 series, NVIDIA GeForce 100/200 series)
Review:Ubisoft has yet again brought an iteration of the Assassin's Creed series to the Mac. It's another native port, which is always welcome, and the Mac release was nearly on par with the PC version. This bodes well for future Ubisoft titles not only being Mac native, but possibly gaining simultaneous releases with their PC counterparts.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood picks up directly where AC2 ended. Other than a brief flashback sequence, the game largely assumes you've played the previous game and will make a lot less sense unless you have. The story, characters and their relationships are not introduced, thus you will benefit from playing the previous game instead of jumping into Brotherhood as your first Assassin's Creed game. You will still have fun, but will miss a number of details and emotional impact.
The initial part of the game serves as a tutorial if you need it, but manages to be exciting at the same time. Ezio is back at his Villa, doing a few things around town and catching up with his family, when they come under attack from the Borgia. Ezio must defend the castle walls with new cannons while the townspeople escape. It's all very dramatic, and packs a good punch to start things out. Ezio then makes his way to Rome to take on the Borgia menace and bring them down.
There's less of a character arc this time around, with Ezio already being a full-fledged assassin. The development here comes in terms of Ezio making friends in Rome, slowly rebuilding the titular Brotherhood, and removing Borgia influence sector by sector. You have thieves, courtesans and mercenaries, basically the "Rome Underground" aiding you in your fight against the Borgia. The Templars take a backseat in this conflict, with the Borgia being the main villains. The game doesn't suffer for it, as it makes for a great story, based on a lot of true historical characters and places.
Each sector has a Borgia tower in it which requires you to assassinate the head officer, before blowing up the tower. This removes the Borgia lockdown from the area, and then lets you renovate any surrounding shops and landmarks. You have blacksmiths, tailors, doctors, stables and banks scattered throughout rome that all need renovating before you can use them. Every shop you renovate then builds the economy, and every 20 minutes you get an amount of florins deposited into your bank account. This amount increases the more shops you renovate, and landmarks you purchase. It's a good system, that makes sense and builds into the story for your fight in taking back Rome.
Speaking of Rome, the recreation is simply breathtaking. Streets, buildings, rivers and giant landmarks are all made in lovely detail. You can poke around the nooks of the Pantheon, climb to the tallest parts of the Colosseum, or mingle in the bustle of the streets and markets. While previous AC games had you spanning multiple cities, Brotherhood takes place entirely in Rome. You don't feel any loss, Rome is simply huge. To help with that, the ability to ride your horse anywhere has been added. Should you be without a horse you can whistle for one anytime and it will come running to where you are.
Eventually you will be able to recruit oppressed civilians into your cause as novice assassins. The more Borgia towers you remove, the more recruits you can have, for a total of 10. Each assassin can be leveled up by helping you in fights, or being sent off on missions to gain experience and gold. You can add to their weapons and armor, and eventually they can reach the full rank of Assassin. It's a fun, but light RPG mechanic. After you get 2 recruits or more, you gain assassin tokens, which you can use to target and call in your men to attack guards or anything in the way. With 6 recruits or more, you gain an Arrow storm ability, which can rain death upon any enemies in the area. The tokens have to recharge after every use, and arrow storm drains them all at once. The weapon and armor upgrades reflect in combat, you can even choose the color of their clothing. It's thrilling the first time you see other assassins join the fray, and it remains a useful mechanic throughout the game.
You can spend as little or as much time as you like on building up the Brotherhood, but ultimately it doesn't really matter to the story, just helps you in combat. It's a great idea, and lots of fun, but not fully realized. You feel like you are building up to a big climax or end fight where your Brotherhood will stand with you against the Borgia, but this never happens. It's disappointing and somewhat unsatisfying, but doesn't largely detract from the game.