Tag Archives: Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Doing the assassin thing during the Italian Renaissance

Assassin's Creed 2 early impressions

Yesterday, everyone was all atwitter over Assassin’s Creed: Unity–though not really over Assassin’s Creed: Rogue–mostly due to Ubisoft’s strange limitations on its review embargoes, as well as the resounding conclusion that the newest stabby-stab title for new consoles in the age-ol’ franchise from a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs is nothing more than mediocre. Naturally, I got the itch to run around rooftops and pierce jerks with hidden blades, so I finally loaded up Assassin’s Creed II for the first time, which Xbox gave out for free many moons ago. Please remember that I played the original Assassin’s Creed and then followed it up with Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, so I’m jumping to the middle chapter mega-late, but that’s all right.

What is Assassin’s Creed II all about? Well, the outside-the-Animus narrative is set in the 21st century and follows Desmond Miles after he escapes Abstergo Industries and relives the genetic memories of his ancestor Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The main narrative takes place at the height of the Italian Renaissance during the 15th and early 16th century. Ezio, a young, charming fellow very much in love with the ladies, is on a vengeance quest against those responsible for betraying his family. That’s all I know so far, having completed everything in sequence 1 and now just running around the map in search of treasure boxes and feathers (when I hear them twinkling).

The game came out in 2009, and it still looks really good, just not in cutscenes. Moving around the world still feels mightily impressive, with a good number of people roaming the streets below, though it is more fun to leap around on the rooftops. However, cutscenes show a lot of dead-eye stares and flat expressions, but it’s not a deal-breaker. I remember Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood fixing a lot of gameplay problems I had with the original title, and I suspect those changes actually started here. Looks like the side missions mostly consist of beating up faithless husbands/boyfriends, racing thieves across rooftops, and killing targets for money, and then there’s the collectibles: hundreds of treasure chests, eagle feathers, semi-mystical glyphs, and statuettes hidden throughout the world. The fact that some of these collectibles appear on the mini-map (after you buy a treasure map) is truly all I needed.

There’s still some open-world jank and lousy platforming to wrangle with, but that’s kind of the same ol’ baggage every Assassin’s Creed carries with it, and the good generally outweighs the bad. However, I do not like trying to climb a building only to accidentally cause Ezio to leap from a window off to the street below and his synchronization death. It’s happened a few times. The combat is not as refined or fluid as Brotherhood‘s was, but still enjoyable to counter a soldier’s sword swipe and knee them in the gut. I’m still early into the adventure, so I don’t have any other fun combat tools at my disposal, but hopefully Leonardo da Vinci can help freshen up the fights.

People are all up in arms over Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare‘s “Press X to pay respects” prompt, but maybe many have forgotten how, early on here, you press buttons to make baby Ezio move his limbs. I’ve also run into a few strange QTE-like moments in Assassin’s Creed II that leave me feeling very uninspired. Every now and then, during a cutscene, there’s a button prompt to do something, like show off your newly acquired hidden blade, but these button prompts are on the screen for less than a second. Generally, I put the controller down during a cutscene, not expecting to be asked to remain involved, and so I’ve missed every single one of these moments. Even when I suspected one might be incoming, I still missed it, being too slow and distracted by my kitty cat. I don’t know, they are strange additions.

I wonder if Assassin’s Creed II will sustain my open-world, rooftop-running itch for a while or if I’ll need to acquire another title down the line. If so, I think everyone likes Black Flag the most currently. Until then, may no one see you stab someone in the neck.

So much brotherly love for Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s multiplayer

I didn’t expect to love the multiplayer aspect of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, but I do. Oh so much. The quick sessions (five- to ten-minute matches), the cat-and-mouse gameplay, the thrill of assassinating your target completely undetected or chasing them down and landing an aerial kill, the constant upgrades your persona gets with each level increase…it’s all pretty amazing. I prefer some game modes over others, as being teamed up in Alliance with a whiny, high-pitched teenager who kept telling me I sucked was not my idea of a good time. Wanted is probably the best way to go, as the hunt and be hunted aspect will always keep you on your toes.

My favorite persona to play as is The Nobleman, and I will be sad for an entire session if I have to play as anybody else. It pretty much doesn’t matter as all personas are merely skins with different kill animations, but I’ve grown attached to the way he walks, to the way he stalks, to the way he balks when spotting an incoming Templar. Plus, y’know, he’s got a clawhand:

The claaaaaaaaaaw!

Someone else seems to really like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood‘s multiplayer, and she doesn’t even play the game. That’s right. My darling wife Tara will literally stop whatever she is doing if she walks past the TV and sees me stalking a target. From there, she’ll be a second pair of eyes helping me out. I love it. We both also share a distaste for the crazies that like to run around on rooftops, screaming to all, “Here I am! Come stab me! Badger badger badger!”

If there’s one aspect that’s a little daunting and less loved, it’s the online multiplayer Achievements. A lot of them seem very tricky to pop, most relying either on boosting or an extreme downpour of luck. Here are three that I’m extremely proud of earning legitimately:

Needle in a Haystack (5G): Kill your target while hidden in a hay bale (Multiplayer Only).

Fast Learner (25G): Kill your target and escape your pursuer in less than 10 seconds (Multiplayer Only).

Ahead of the Curve (20G): Perform a double or triple escape (Multiplayer Only).

However, there’s probably not many left that I’ll be able to get. Level 50 is a long way off as I’m around Level 11 at  the moment, and you need more and more XP with each level increase. I actually came close to taking the lead with 10 seconds left once; I made an undetected assassination with 25 seconds left and went on to win. Arrrrgh. Why couldn’t I have waited 15 more seconds to murder the Doctor?! Still, I’m gonna keep playing as it’s fun, bite-size, and always rewarding. I do have to wonder if Ubisoft will carry any of this over to Assassin’s Creed III or if it was solely to tie into the assassin guild theme  here.

Bang! Splash! Kaboom! Boom!

Despite the bulk of activities in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, I can easily name my favorite quests. And that’s pretty bold of me, considering I’ve not yet completed the game and am only around DNA Sequence 5, meaning I’ve not experienced everything there is to experience just yet. I mean, who knows…maybe Ezio is tasked with assassinating some distant relative of Julius Caesar. That’d be cool. Et tu, Brute? But it matters not! For Leonardo da Vinci is in da house!

That’s right. The da Vinci, that very dude that painted Mona Lisa and invented things like the hang glider and thought about many-a-things and inspired Dan Brown to write a really hokey novel. I guess he was also in Assassin’s Creed II, but I skipped that game and went right on to Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Right now, the Borgia soldiers are forcing da Vinci to create war machines for them, and the famed Florentine painter seeks out Ezio’s help in destroying these devices. Glad to be of service!

Bang! (20G): Destroy the Machine Gun.

Splash! (20G): Destroy the Naval Cannon.

Kaboom! (20G): Destroy the Tank.

Boom! (20G): Destroy the Bomber.

I will, for the sake of Grinding Down‘s dear readers, not reveal too much about each mission da Vinci gives to Ezio to destroy one of his inventions, but man-oh-man-oh-man. They are fun. I think part of the reason they’re so enjoyable is because you’re taken away to a new location, stripped of your recruited assassins’ help, and forced to really think about how you move about the land. For each mission, being spotted by a guard is an instant desynch. This taught me how to assassinate while hanging from a ledge more, as well as the potent power of smoke bombs and the crossbow. On main storyline missions, I’d either rush in for the kill or just summon an arrow storm and sit back to watch all the mayhem. Each da Vinci mission is threefold: (1) find the war machine’s blueprints without being detected, (2) locate the war machine, and (3) use said war machine against its makers to show them who is boss. The last part of each mission is very cinematic, especially the one for destroying the machine gun. Pew pew pew! Sorry, horsies!

Ezio’s reward, besides bringing the Borgia movement down a notch, for destroying all of da Vinci’s war machines is another invention from the man of the hour: a parachute. I’ve yet to try it out, but I imagine it’ll be great for silent, death-from-above assassinations. However, I’m sad that there’s no more da Vinci missions left. Guess it’s back to burning Borgia towers and unearthing treasures for Ezio…

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and the honeydew list

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is a perfect game for me. It allows me to do a bajillion things at once…or nothing at all. And along the way, I’m rewarded profusely, no matter which path I take. Progression is always building, and this progression is never lost as the game auto-saves like a nervous cokehead stuck fortuitously inside police headquarters. I love it. I can play it in quick chunks of 15 minutes or for hours at length.

Just like in The Saboteur, the overworld map is key to getting things done. Instead of just being bloated with countless white dots, Ezio has to stare at…countless icons. All of them different, all of them something to see, to do, to stab. Here’s just a small taste of everything I can do at this point in the game (DNA sequence 3):

  • Kill Borgia captains
  • Burn Borgia towers to the ground
  • Collect Borgia flags
  • Recruit assassins to the brotherhood
  • Train assassins by sending them on missions across Europe or having them take out Borgia soldiers
  • Buy famous locations
  • Do mini quests for arts merchants, tailors, and weapons dealers to unlock special items
  • Collect feathers
  • Remove posters to lower one’s notoriety
  • Take on assassin contracts
  • Do sidequest missions for locals
  • Start memory sequences to continue Ezio/Desmond’s story
  • Read emails
  • Replay memories for fuller synchronizations
  • Purchase stores to upgrade Rome
  • Buy paintings to fill out Ezio’s hideout
  • Hire prostitutes, thieves, or mercanaries to help with missions
  • Find and search the numerous hidden tombs of Romulus
  • Solve Subject 16’s puzzles
  • Collect from numerous treasure chests hidden throughout
  • Destroy Leonardo’s creations
  • Climb buildings and complete viewpoint synchs
  • Train and earn medals via virtual reality sessions

Honestly, I’m sure that’s not everything. And I’ve excluded online multiplayer from the list. Seriously…this game gives you a run for your money, especially considering that I got it on sale for $39.99. And as I mentioned before, you can do all the above, a few things, or none at all. Sometimes I just like to climb buildings and look out at the city; other times, I enjoy riding horseback through the countryside. On occasion, I will simply sit and people-watch. Everyone everywhere is fascinating. The game can be, all at once, the most peaceful and violent experience presented, and I can’t wait to chip away it more and more.

Nice to meet you, 20,000 Gamerscore

So, I used to have this little widget thing over in my sidebar that kept track of my Achievements and recently played games. It was a nice thing to have, a quick reminder of where I sat Gamerscore-wise. However, I guess Microsoft recently updated its system, changing the way players’ gamercards looked, and all the code in my widget got thrown for a wild ride. In short, it ended up looking like this hot mess:

Don’t y’all just love my new hair color? Matches my eyes, I’m told.

Anyways, this wasn’t very upsetting, and I figured it would either fix itself in due time or I’d go looking for a new widget. No rush, no rush at all. Except, suddenly, without warning, there was a great need to make sure the world could see my Gamerscore! Great need indeed.

Last night, while playing some Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, I noticed that I was sitting comfy at 19,990 Gamerscore, ten points off from a perfectly pretty whole number. Well, looks like I had a new mission to accomplish then, one not involving finding treasure or assassinating bad dudes or even burning Borgia towers.

Scanning the list of still-locked Achievements in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, I found only two worth 10 Gamerscore points exactly. One involved using a parachute, which I did not have yet, and the other required me to win some hand-to-hand fights. I knew exactly where that took place, headed over via the lovely fast-traveling tunnel entrances, fought my way through five easy rounds, and unlocked the following with little challenge:

The Gloves Come Off (10G): Win the highest bet at the Fights.

Mmm. So, math time! 19,990 plus 10 equals…uh…hmm. Hold on. Let me get some scratch paper. Let’s see. Carry the…one, and times everything by the denominator. Factor in the ratio of pi versus the radius. Wait, wait. No, I got it! It’s 20,000 Gamerscore! Look, look, thanks to the widget brainiacs over at mygamercard.net:

Sure, pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but I have fun paying attention to it all. In fact, if any of my dear readers will recall, I was also able to perfectly achieve 10,000 Gamerscore when the time came near. Can’t wait for 30,000 Gamerscore to show up next!

Hide in hay, sit on bench, get stabbed in the back

…rinse and repeat!

That’s how my three sessions with Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s multiplayer went last night, with me striking down the occasional foe and running across rooftops to freedom (and points for escaping!). I guess I did somewhat decent as I managed to progress from a weak level 1 Templar to a…still weak level 2 Templar. Only now I unlocked an ability called “disguise,” which I haven’t gotten to try out just yet. I’m assuming I get to change outfits at whim or something to that effect. Could help me on my latest quest: To Not Get Stabbed in the Back Anymore.

All the complaints about Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood‘s matchmaking prowess ring true. It takes a long time to get enough players to join up, and even when it does look like you’ve got 8/8 ready to play, you still have to wait. However, once you’re in a match, it’s pretty clear it’s worth it. This sort of multiplayer experience doesn’t come along a lot, and I absolutely love the idea of hiding in plain sight. Pretending to be part of a crowd, chatting with a merchant, taking a break on a bench–these are actual strategies to surviving. Running up a ladder is a sure-fire way to get noticed, get killed. I’m still not good at figuring out who my targets are, and the assassinate button likes to, uh, sometimes not work. Or maybe I’m not supposed to stab other Templars when they are stabbing their targets. Don’t really know. But yeah, it’s a fun time once you get a good group of people that like to click “rematch” right away.

Sadly, I’ll probably never get any of the multiplayer Achievements. Or, if I do, it’ll be just one. Like killing a target while hiding in a pile of hay. That’s probably the easiest of the bunch. The rest? Very specific, very skill-heavy. Oh well. Sometimes it’s not always about Achievements. Guess I will just do my best to unlock everything in the single player mode, which, by the way, is going good. I am, however, feeling extremely overwhelmed; the map is getting more and more littered with icons and things to see, and Etzio (i.e., me) just kind of wants to run around, climb buildings, and fill his secret hideout with awesome, authentic paintings. Mmm artwork…

Our latest and greatest videogame purchases

Tara and I went shopping over the weekend. I bought jeans and two flannel-infused shirts that go well with–wait, what? You don’t care about the good deals I got on clothes from Kohl’s? Hmph. I see how it is. Bunch of anti-fashionistas. I guess you’d prefer me to talk about all the many videogames purchased this weekend. I guess your wish is about to get…granted!

Warning: this list of games bought is going to blow your mind. Can’t say from what. Surely not the total awesomesauce. Maybe more from the randomness, the WTFs. Steel yourself!

Paul’s Purchases

It was selling for a cool $39.99, and the Internet will not shut up about how good it is. Haven’t touched the multiplayer except for the tutorial level. Oh, I tried. Waited for 15 minutes to have it log me into a new session…and then summarily kick me out. Boo-hoo. Single-player is a much improved performance over the original Assassin’s Creed. Never got to play Assassin’s Creed II. Anyways, if anyone wants to help me give online multiplayer a try, my Xbox Live Gamertag is PaulyAulyWog. Please?

It was dirt cheap. I’ve played maybe an hour of it and also tried Firefight by myself. I’m a smidge above a vacuum. Meh.

Oh man. Where do I begin? Actually, let’s just keep this short. Now that we have our Nintendo Wii set up in the Leaky Cauldron, I’d like to catch up on some GameCube games I never got to play. Such as Pikman and Windwaker and Luigi’s Mansion. All in good time though. And I believe I’ve also previously mentioned my obsession with all things Lord of the Rings. Now, here’s the real tough question; did this version of The Hobbit cost me $1.99, $2.99, $3.99, or $4.99?

It cost less than The Hobbit, and its cover made me laugh.

Tara’s Purchases

This is now our third version of this game owned. Tara’s more interested in it than the Wii version because the controls are simpler. Plus, I heard that you can actually play old Nintendo games within this game–wicked! She liked the sound of that, too. It’ll be curious to experience this version last, seeing as I started out on Animal Crossing: Wild World and then moved on to Animal Crossing: City Folk. Granted, they are, more or less, the same game, but the minute differences are actually where it counts the most.

Mmm…LEGO games.

And those were our big purchases. The funny/annoying thing is that I assumed one could use the Wiimote to play GameCube games on the Nintendo Wii. Y’know, turn it sideways like a traditional controller. Nope. Because the GameCube controller was freakish and had so many random buttons. So we haven’t got to try any of our GameCube buys just yet. We also need an old memory card. The only good thing the Wii does is…uh, let you put the CD into its slot. Geez, it might have been easier just to buy an old GameCube system, but truthfully, we’ve run out of outlets and the back of our entertainment stand looks like the Great Cthulhu, but with wires instead of tentacles. Truly nightmarish.

Pretty sure Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Fallout: New Vegas, and some other games will be able to keep my attention busy until February, and then it’ll be time to travel through alternate dimensions in Radiant Historia.