Retro Review: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood (Ezio Collection Part 2/3)

Credit: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Screenshot by me. Looking out onto the city of Rome in Renaissance Italy.

Most of the Assassin’s Creed I’ve been playing lately has been the modern installments on my Xbox, but I am still chipping away at the Ezio Collection on my Nintendo Switch. Brotherhood capitalizes on everything Assassin’s Creed 2 did right, and delivers a much more complete package overall. It paves the way for moves all the way down the series. I see now why so many people hold this game as a favorite. It is a quintessential stealth action experience, and so much more rewarding than I imagined.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood picks up exactly the moment where the previous game left off. Desmond Miles is exploring the memories of his Renaissance Italy ancestor Ezio Auditore. He is searching for ancient artifacts, and answers. AC2 ended with a brain melter of a twist, and the follow-up in the trilogy leaves only more questions. This is not entirely a bad thing. Developers at Ubisoft saw a definite future for the series, so I see the bricks of masterful world building here.

I read that most people beat this game in about fifteen to twenty hours. I played over twenty-five, because there is a ton of really fun side activities. You literally get paid to exist in this game, so why not spend as much time as possible doing side quests? These quests deliver everything you enjoy about the game. Stealth, platforming and action. No matter what activity you decide to do, it is worth it for the mere joy. You know, why we used to play games? Even after completing the main story, there is plenty of fun to be had yet.

Credit: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Screenshot by me. This game is easier on the eyes than its predecessor.

Neglect burdened my mind as this game sat, often without being played, on my Switch for months as I focused on Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey. I will officially be playing all the AC games for this blog at one point or another. I now own, or have reviewed every single one. I am stoked beyond belief to be on this journey. This is one of the biggest names in gaming, celebrating fifteen years since the original title. How far it has come since then, and there is still so much on the horizon, according to Ubisoft.

Recently announced were several new Assassin’s Creed titles. The next main title coming in 2023, titled “Assassin’s Creed Mirage.” Following young Basim, of AC Valhalla fame, in ancient Baghdad, it promises an experience much more like Brotherhood, and less like newer RPG style titles. 15-20 hour campaign with focus on stealth and parkour. Fans speak, Ubisoft listens. The only available criticism of recent AC games is that we miss the old games sometimes. Well, with Mirage I think we are going to get even more than we hoped. There will still be more AC titles in different styles including a modern RPG version set in feudal Japan flying under the name, “Codename Red.” Playing a ninja is something AC fans have been dreaming of for fifteen years.

Everything about AC Brotherhood is superior to AC2. The parkour is far more natural, and fluid, although still flawed. The combat is more exciting. The physical world is more coherent than that of AC2, mostly confining you to one sprawling city with countryside rather than several small ones you mostly never explore. The graphics are better, time of day having breathtaking impact on the appearance of the game, for example. The list goes on and on, Brotherhood is a magnificent game even if for no other reason than how much better it is of a sequel than the game that came before. And Assassin’s Creed 2 was no slouch! I am not dragging AC2, it is simply an objective fact that Brotherhood plays in a higher league.

Credit: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Screenshot by me. Assassins and Templars fight to control “Objects of Power.” Mystical, powerful artifacts.

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is one of the best stealth games I have ever played. There have been better games that feature stealth, like AC Odyssey, but Brotherhood is a stealth game first, action game second. And there is no real role-playing game aspects. It is about sneaking across rooftops, silently isolating and neutralizing obstacles as you work toward your target, where you get in position then strike. The thrill of pulling your blade on a major target in this game is occasion to celebrate. The satisfaction of executing with grace made me hungry to keep playing with the next game in the Ezio Collection, “Revelations.”

You can see where Ubisoft made a lot of positive foundations with this game. The engaging side quests that offer rewards in both fun, and loot. The grandiosity of plot. Characters who are memorable regardless of whether they’re heroes or villains. I think if this is one of the developers inspirations for Mirage, we are in for the best stealth game in a very long time. I love Ezio Auditore, he is so noble yet incorrigible. He has insatiable flair, like a deadly flower twirling in the wind, torn from its roots. I cannot wait to see how his story turns out in the next game.

Based on the first two games in the Ezio Collection: AC2 and Brotherhood, this is a must play collection. I will give my final word when I beat Revelations, but at this point I am very pleased with what I have played so far. In the next game I just want more of what I got here, except with more answers and less questions. I know AC is an enigmatic series, but something has got to give. I think the title, “Revelations,” indicates I will get my wish. AC Brotherhood stands out as an exemplary stealth action title, and high marks as an Assassin’s Creed game as well. I am playing the Ezio Collection on Switch, but you can find it basically anywhere. Follow my blog for more gaming content, including lots more Assassin’s Creed reviews down the road.

Credit: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Screenshots by me.

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