The Rome of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 is big. Really big. It's so big that it has a network of fast travel tunnels to expedite crossing from one side to the other in the same way that Assassin's Creed II featured fast travel stations to zip between cities. As I guide assassin Ezio Auditore around the city and its rooftops, I have to marvel at what the development team has accomplished here and I understand why we were given one more outing with Ezio instead of moving ahead to Assassin's Creed III and some other genetic memory protagonist. The Italian Renaissance is a fascinating setting for a game like Assassin's Creed. Science and technology began to rise, rational thought and critical thinking evolved, and creativity was valued in certain circles. It's no wonder that the time period is back for an encore.
Especially impressive is the attention to detail when it comes to historical landmarks. I studied European history back in school for a while, and the section on the Renaissance was my favorite just because of the larger than life historical figures and their grand architecture plans. Being able to actually climb the Colosseum as Ezio, for example, is a revelation. The structures in Brotherhood actually seem real at times and not just virtual representations or fictional creations. The tallest and largest landmarks just beg to be scaled, although the part of the challenge involves finding where to start climbing. Many of the buildings are made of smooth walls at their foundations with the exception of a single convenient foothold. Find that spot and the sky's the limit.
Ezio's Rome is packed with all kinds of side missions and fun distractions as well as detailed architecture to climb. In a way, it's almost too much. When I pop open the city map, the icons denoting shops, memories, tombs, guilds, treasures, towers, and other such things overwhelm the screen. How am I ever going to clear anywhere close to all of that? I don't know that I will, but I like knowing that given enough free time, I probably could do it. It's so easy to become distracted through. For instance: checking the map, I decide to head for a primary memory objective to advance the main storyline, but along the way I walk within eyeshot of a Borgia tower that needs to be burned, so I start heading in that direction since it's not too far off the path, but then en route to that I come across a potential assassin recruit, so I deviate from the tower to assist, but that just leads to finding a blacksmith shop that I can renovate, and once I renovate it I have to stop and buy a new weapon. I have to try that weapon on something, so I head for the nearest group of Borgia guards and pick a fight just for the heck of it. After the fight I notice a thief running by, so I give chase and take him down in order to steal his money. Once the dust settles, I turn back towards... wait, what was I originally doing again? Oh, right! I was heading to explore a tomb. That was it, wasn't it? Oh well, at least it's close by, so I might as well... hey, there's a treasure chest! I wonder what else is waiting in the wings...
WAITING IN THE WINGS: The Neckless Woman Of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Exploring Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood