One of the new features in Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood involves recruiting average ordinary citizens off the streets of Rome to aid in the rebellion against the Borgia family regime. The idea is to rescue oppressed people who have a bit of fight in them and then send them around the world on missions to assist in the Assassin cause. The more missions the recruits complete, the more experience points they earn and the more they level up from a mere Level 1 grunt all the way to a Level 10 Assassin (with a capital A, no less). Missions include spying on a Borgia banquet in London to poisoning Borgia wine in Lisbon to killing a Borgia captain in Paris. Sometimes they even bring back spoils of war such as rare coins or shrunken heads that can be sold for profit. Ah, the thrilling life of an Assassin! While all of that exciting stuff is going on, Brotherhood protagonist Ezio Auditore is back in Rome collecting flags and feathers. I ask you, who got the short end of the stick on this adventure?
Alright, so that's oversimplifying it a bit much. Truth is, while the missions that Ezio's Brotherhood of Assassins can complete sound exciting, all we ever get to see of them are options on a menu screen. Brotherhood turns into something like SimAssassin in this regard, as players must send Assassins out into the field like one designates a commercial zone or builds a power plant. It's not terribly exciting, but at least it generates income in the grander scheme of things. Sometimes recruits die on missions if they're poorly prepared to carry them out. Don't send a recruit out to kill a captain on his or her first mission and expect success. Up to five recruits can be send on a single mission, and each recruit that joins the mission increases the odds that things will go according to plan. My strategy once I had the manpower was to send one or two Assassins to get the job done and a few low-level recruits to share in the experience points. Soon those recruits became Assassins themselves that could aid other recruits. Eventually the whole pyramid scheme collapsed when I hit the limit of Assassins I could employ, and soon everyone in the Brotherhood was an Assassin. I had all of the money and power I needed as I neared the end of the game, so what's the point of sending them back out on more missions?
The Brotherhood has a second function, thankfully. When they aren't gallivanting around the world on exciting unseen missions, Ezio can summon some of them into the action in Rome to help take out targets. Hordes of Borgia guards are no match for my own army of loyal Assassins that ride into battle on horseback with their own hidden blades, pistols, and smoke bombs. If enough Assassins are on standby, they can even rain a shower of arrows down from above without directly becoming involved in the fight. It's very useful to simply designate a target from a short distance away and give the signal to swarm. The Brotherhood ends up doing some of my dirty work for me. They're not invincible, however, and recruits can be killed in battle if they're outnumbered, ill-prepared, or just plain weak. When they die, Ezio can do his "Recquiescat in Pace" moment of silence routine to send dying recruits off with honor. Don't worry though; there's plenty more where they came from. Rome is packed with people ready to join the cause if asked.
Considering that the Brotherhood made it into the title of the game, one would think that they're meant to be important game-changing elements in this phase of Ezio's adventure. I don't quite see it that way. The management sim aspect of their existence is a fun diversion until all of the recruits become unstoppable Assassins, and while they're useful in direct combat sometimes, I've always preferred to take the one-man army approach to my third-person action/adventure titles. Be it in the form of Ezio Auditore or Nathan Drake or even Sly Cooper, I like to rush into enemy hordes single-handedly and take out entire armies with my acquired arsenal. Sending in computer-controlled characters to have all of the fun defeats some of the purpose for me. While I enjoyed the diversion here more or less, I hope that this increased use of computer-controlled Assassins isn't part of the shape of things to come.
The Shape Of Things To Come: Full Synchronization Required
Exploring Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood