Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, you have a few recycled assets, and some familiar gameplay elements. Sure the combat has been tweaked, and some truly brutal animations have been added; but on the whole, there is a lot here that anyone who has played Assassin's Creed II (or even its less polished predecessor) will have experienced previously. There are some new additions to the formula, but they either serve to make the game less difficult or are ill-conceived and cause quite a bit of frustration. Counter to that of course, you have a new (albeit, poorly paced) chapter in a truly compelling saga, with some arresting developments. I'm not going to discuss the multiplayer offering, as I have been unable to find a match. Apparently it's great, but I can't say for sure.
To give you an idea of one of the more flippantly-developed, new gameplay mechanics, there have been at least three occasions where stealth is either an option or a requirement. When it's an option, you can run with it and hope for the best. Apart from blending (which didn't help in the mission staged in a Borgia stonghold), and hanging from ledges (once again, not helpful in an interior environment), there aren't many other ways I'm aware of to remain concealed. In the one mission I played where being discovered results in mission failure; guards were patrolling in great numbers, and killing one of them would mean that the enemy would be alerted to my presence (at least theoretically) and I would be unable to achieve the secondary objective. I tried to sneak around, but there were no groups of civilians to hide amongst, and no cluttered mass of structures to move amongst. After failing the mission several times I turned to murder. Killing a guard did not incite the expected response: a few gathered around the body, talking excitedly as though they had discovered a bag of gifts. One crossbow bolt after another, my enemies seemed unperturbed by their impending demise. Rather than be detected and fail the mission (again and again), I resorted to killing every guard that littered the map.
For those of you that have not yet played Brotherhood, allow me explain why this homicidal rampage was frustration with a chaser of disappointment. For each mission in the most recent iteration of the series, players can complete secondary objectives in order to achieve "Full Synchronisation." Initially, I was excited at the prospect of completing these peripheral challenges, which often test speed and combat skill. The whole concept turned unattractive once stealth and the utilization of some of the more half-baked gameplay mechanics became the requisite for success. It has come to the point where I don't even look at the optional goals anymore.
I'm still enjoying Ezio's new adventure (Desmond, take him or leave him), and now it's finally starting to get interesting. Flawed new mechanics aside, this is still the same succesful formula with the same religious conspiracy which I find fascinating (almost essential).
What did you guys play this weekend? Anybody else started playing through Brotherhood? Does anyone care to?
Dutch note: To add insult to injury, please see below for a flawless playthrough off the section I just bitched about. Be warned, contains spoilers.