Another year, another Assassin's Creed. Or maybe another week?
Both for Desmond and Ezio, the game continues their stories right where we left them off, Desmond and his pals on the run in a van, and Ezio escaping from the vault he had just discovered. Remember the Villa the first game had you funding? Well, as a consequence for letting the Pope live, he retaliates by having his son, Cesare, destroy the villa and murder Ezio's uncle in the process, yes, this is another revenge story for Ezio. For the first time in the series, what little of Desmond's story we get is actually more interesting than Ezio's story, AC 2 did a good job at fleshing out the present-day cast, but AC:B does it even better, by allowing you to exit the Animus at any time, you get new little scenes with Lucy, Rebecca and Shaun every new chapter, plus, you can read their e-mails for further insight into their shenanigans. As for Ezio, many familiar faces return, but Ezio himself doesn't evolve too much and his story relies on many cliched tropes, you'll see the twists coming from a mile away, and the second to last chapter feels very rushed, which takes away some of the punch from outcome.
As for the biggest new mechanic, and the best one, is recruiting assassins for the Brotherhood. By saving citizens from Borgia soldiers, you can then recruit them into your brotherhood, and then serve two purposes: Sending them away on missions or calling them out for help. While sending them away on missions is helpful to your purse, having them help you against a enemy squad is incredibly useful and satisfying, and after you get about 8 Assassins you can use the massively overpowered Arrow Storm that kills every enemy on the vicinity. After this game, abandoning this mechanic would be extremely disappointing. Not only is it an useful and fun mechanic, seeing Assassins fighting alongside Ezio is really cool, and having Ezio work as a sort of... mentor to these Assassins helps further his character.
Sadly, a lot of the game is just getting back the stuff that you lost from the second game. There's a couple of new tools, like the incredibly useful parachute and the crossbow(Which is a glorified wrist-gun), and the introduction of heavy-type weapons, but 80% of your tools(Don't quote me on that number) return from AC2. I was also not particularly fond of the pacing, the rate at which new weapons, armors or items are available isn't very consistent or rewarding, the same goes for the rate at which the map opens up and the sidequests pop up, on some chapters you'll be swimming on sidequests and new areas to explore, while others will have nothing, there's a chapter in particular(Memory Sequence 2) that actually blocks off areas you've already been to. It's especially noticeable coming directly from AC2, which had a fairly consistent pace.
Brotherhood is the first game in the series to introduce Multiplayer Mode, which is probably why the main story felt so short, and while it offers three variations... this mode will probably be either hit or miss among the players. I, for instance, didn't find much fun in it, as you must try to assassinate a target while another player hunts you, it has a bit of a slow pace, which is why I didn't like it a whole lot.
As for the presentation, the character models look noticeably better and Rome is bursting with color and details.... but the amount of screen tearing has increased noticeably, alongside pop in, you'll notice details popping out of nowhere while moving, which is why as a whole, I'd say it's a step back. The music, most of it returns from AC2, and what few tracks are new, are rather forgettable, luckily AC2 had some great music. Voice Acting remains strong for all major characters, but some of the secondary characters are laughable at worst.
Assassin's Creed 2 was a huge leap from Assassin's Creed 1. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is but a sidestep from AC2, as far as the gameplay is concerned, all the additions are great and fun to use... but make the game even easier than before. It also happens to have a rather wonky pace, a more structured flow to how activities and items became available would've worked wonders.
7.5 out of 10.