Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood in the test - point five with class

Author: Michael Graf
Date: 2011-03-17 12:45:00
Ezio Auditore is four months late celebrating his PC comeback - and what a PC! Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood has everything a top-notch action-adventure needs. Except for the playful requirement.

What can happen in 120 days: The American national debt exceeds 14 trillion dollars, various dictators fall in North Africa ... oh, and the PC version of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is finally finished.

After the console version had already appeared on November 18, 2010, Ubisoft finally submitted the Windows version on March 17, 2011. The developers cite technical advances and a thorough bug search as reasons for the delay.

The latter was successful, apart from rare graphic errors and AI dropouts (opponents sometimes do not climb ladders) our test version did not reveal any major problems.

The technology upgrade, however, is quite modest. Okay, the PC-Brotherhood has the higher resolution including anti-aliasing ahead of its console brothers, the lighting and the shadows are a bit more realistic.

In addition, the third Assassin's Creed supports the technologies AMD Eyefinity (the game graphics run on up to six monitors simultaneously) and Nvidia 3D Vision (allows 3D representation on the corresponding displays).

However, the level of detail of the textures and environments hardly increases, Ubisoft is wasting potential here. Which of course is criticism at a high level. The assassin adventure still looks great, apart from the doll-like wooden faces.

Brotherhood doesn't have to hide in other ways either, the assassin Ezio Auditore once again climbed light heights - even if he lost his balance a bit in the process.

The scenario: assassination in the perfect setting

Speaking of Ezio: Brotherhood isn't Assassin's Creed 3 , but rather Assassin's Creed 2.5. Because his plot is directly linked to that of Assassin's Creed 2 , the hero remains the same: After the mysterious events in the Vatican, the assassin Ezio Auditore escapes from Rome, but finds no rest.

Because shortly afterwards, his home village Monteriggioni is besieged in a snappy tutorial sequence including cannon shooting. Ezio flees again, this time back to Rome, which from then on serves as the sole venue, apart from a few side-mission arenas.

That doesn't bother at all, because the Eternal City provides the perfect assassination backdrop. It's just fun to run / ride through the busy streets and the forts in the surrounding area, also thanks to the right music and atmospheric lighting.

In addition, Brotherhood often incorporates the city's landmarks into its missions in an exemplary manner, including Ezio climbing the Colosseum and stalking through Castel Sant'Angelo.

The missions: more variety and more to do

In general: the mission design! After Assassin's Creed 2 had already shaken off the monotony of the first series part, Brotherhood went one better. The game is teeming with original ideas.

For example, Ezio, disguised as a security guard, drags a box of money through town, but doesn't even know where to take it. So he pays attention to his companions, who show him the way with comments like "Where is he going now?"

Ezio also sneaks into an orgy, gets French uniforms for a ruse and takes part in a Passion play as an ancient Roman centurion - just a few of many good ideas.

Anyone who solves orders in a certain, usually particularly demanding way - for example, remains undiscovered in the Castel Sant'Angelo - achieves "full synchronization" and thus enables a nice mini-mission chain.

In addition to the main story, there is also a lot to do, with jobs waiting all over the place in Rome. Although they don't bring usable rewards, they all play slightly differently and thus serve as a nice addition.

Ezio's best side jobs are for his old inventor buddy Leonardo da Vinci, for whom he sneaks into four fortresses to destroy state-of-the-art war machines. Of course not before he has used it himself, among other things he drives a Renaissance tank and a (rather stubborn) hang glider bomber - a terrific change!

The story: exciting to the bitter end

Da Vinci is, however, also a good example of how loveless Brotherhood is with marginalized characters. Except in side missions and in the DLC, the millennial genius rarely appears.

Some of the main missions revolve around Ezio's lover Catarina, but then she is boldly dumped. It's a shame, otherwise Brotherhood tells an interesting story, packed as usual in numerous, well-set cutscenes.

Desmond Miles, Ezio's ancestor from the present, is also there again and is allowed to climb around in the here and now. Desmond can crawl through modern Monteriggioni, but only find superfluous artifacts through play.

Today's climbing is only important at the beginning and at the end. The finale is beautifully staged, but ends again (after an annoying last hopping game) outrageously open. Why can't Ubisoft just answer a few questions instead of constantly asking new ones?

The fights: Assassination routes too easy

And why doesn't Ubisoft finally add adjustable levels of difficulty? Brotherhood is much too easy, which is also true of the fighting.

Unlike in Assassin's Creed 2, Ezio's counter attacks are no longer overpowering, but the new assassination routes are: After the assassin has eliminated the first enemy, he can knock down any number of others with just one touch of a button until he is hit himself.

And he can even put up with damage, because Ezio can simply dump healing potions that can be bought on every street corner.

The Assassin Helpers: Great, but powerful

The playful innovations provide further balance problems. In the course of the game, Ezio opens his own assassin guild, for which he recruits members. On a map of Europe, he sends the young assassins to murder missions so that they can gain experience and become continuously stronger.

That in itself is motivating and a great idea, but the assassins are overwhelming. Ezio can summon you to help out in many normal missions, and even moderately experienced co-assassins are effective in clearing out entire groups of enemies. That takes Brotherhood out of any challenge in places.

The Rome renovation: foreign word financial crisis

The second innovation is that Ezio can open shops in Rome, similar to the Monteriggioni from Assassin's Creed 2. There he then buys armor upgrades, new weapons or healing potions, among other things.

It's just stupid that the shops transfer a high income to Ezio's bank account every 20 minutes, money problems are a foreign concept in ancient Rome. That makes buying armaments and weapons ad absurdum: Why should you think about which upgrades to buy when you have money for everyone?

After all, in order to open business, Ezio has to push back the influence of the hostile Borgia family by torching their towers. To do this, he first eliminates a captain and then climbs the structure

That turns out to be a little tricky, because the battlements are heavily guarded - even if the auxiliary assassins make short work of the Borgia henchmen later in the game.

The unsteady balance only tears a small hole in Ezio's otherwise pure, fun-to-play robe. Because Brotherhood entertains splendidly, the long campaign and the good side missions captivate up to 30 hours.

The multiplayer mode: original for in between

In addition, the third Assassin's Creed is the first with multiplayer mode: Up to eight assassins duel over the Internet (a LAN option is missing). In normal games, each player chooses a character (doctor, courtesan, engineer, etc.) and has a different one as their goal, which creates a gripping game of cat and mouse.

So you can see a mug shot of the target, at the same time a compass shows its approximate position, but the person is not marked. Because there are tons of computer-controlled clones wandering around in the busy arenas, you have to watch out for anomalies to differentiate the human from the AI.

At the same time, you should also be careful yourself so as not to attract attention. Those who do gymnastics on roofs stand on the presentation plate.

This also applies to the other modes, including various team variants. Achievements bring level advancements in which you unlock new skills across all games. For example, you can dress up as a different person for a short time.

The bottom line is that the multiplayer assassination does not turn out to be terribly ingenious, but as an original pastime for in between and thus a successful addition to an already exemplary extensive game.

Incidentally, we completed our multiplayer test on the Xbox 360 because no PC servers were online at the time of the test. The modes work exactly the same on PC and console. If there are serious connection problems under Windows, we will of course point them out.

The DLCs: Not all on board

Criticism at a high level is also the disappointment that Brotherhood does not contain all of the DLCs that have been released so far as hoped. The episode The Copernicus Conspiracy remains Playstation 3 exclusive. In addition to the multiplayer extensions Animus Project Update 1.0 and 2.0 (with additional maps and modes), there is also the brand-new additional chapter Da Vinci's Disappearance for free.

However, you must first activate the additional chapter via Ubisoft's online service Uplay. This can be done fairly comfortably directly from the game, you only need the data of the user account that you created for online activation anyway. You don't have to download anything, the data is on the game DVD.

Da Vinci's Disappearance features eight additional solo side missions that revolve around the kidnapping of Leonardo. World-shattering playful innovations are not there, but the bets turn out to be entertaining.

Among other things, Ezio beats up an art dealer, sneaks into a heavily guarded summer residence, searches paintings for hidden clues, climbs through ancient catacombs and duels with the robes of the obligatory secret society. Overall, the mini-adventure takes around four hours - okay for a free chapter.

The Da Vinci bundle includes the DLC Animus Project Update 3.0, which brings two multiplayer modes: In the »Assassination« variant, two teams fight each other, in »Escort« each team rushes at a single target of the enemy troops and has to protect your own VIP at the same time.

There is also the new "Alhambra" map and four additional character models. Da Vinci's disappearance turns out to be a decent gift package that at least makes up for the PC delay a bit.

The copy protection: activation yes, online permanent obligation no

Like Assassin's Creed 2, Brotherhood also uses the game launcher copy protection, which Ubisoft has slightly defused. You no longer have to stay online while climbing and assassination, after the first Internet activation, the game also runs in offline mode.

The DVD does not have to be in the drive. Because Brotherhood merges with your (free) online account when it is activated, however, it cannot be resold.

In the offline mode, in addition to the multiplayer mode, a single player element of the game does not work: the investments with which Ezio increases the profit of business. Which is superfluous anyway, given the glut of money from Brotherhood.

The special editions: Auditore or Codex?

In addition to the normal progression version for around 45 euros, Brotherhood is also available in the Auditore Edition for around 55 euros, which is in a transparent box with a 3D portrait of Ezio and a trading card set, a DVD short film about Ezio's father and two additional multiplayer -Characters contains.

All of this is also available in the large collector's box of the Limited Codex Edition for around 70 euros, which also includes a map of Rome, a 60-page Codex booklet, the soundtrack, a trading card set and exclusive dragon armor for Ezio.