Brotherhood was the first 'primary' entry in the Assassin's Creed franchise to see protagonist make a return (Altair had previously appeared in both Assassin's Creed Bloodlines and Assassin's Creed Altair's Chronicles).
An older and wiser killer Ezio takes his war against the Templars and the Borgias to Rome. The Eternal City, of which you only caught a brief glimpse at the conclusion of Assassin's Creed 2 became the biggest setting to date and marked a formidable area to traverse.
Most notable perhaps about modern Italy's capital city is the dilapidated state Ezio found it to be in the early 16th Century with many of the ruins, the Coliseum for instance, being far removed from the city. Unlike today. The scale of both the ancient arena as well as other noted Roman landmarks (the Pantheon and Castel Sant'Angelo) both spring to mind) while embellished proved an enjoyable playground gamers.
The size of the city and its environs necessitated the addition of horses within the cosmopolitan area - previously players had to dismount in order to enter urban settings - as well as fast travel via the city's many tunnels.
But the most notable addition was the Brotherhood itself. Ezio's ascension to Master Assassin brought with it the ability to recruit and train members of the fraternity. The capacity to macro-manage the fight against Templars by sending trainees off to far-flung locations marked a gentle addition of real time strategy elements while the capacity to unleash these assassins in combat often proved an alluring prospect though arguably made some confrontations too easy.
Regardless this process of raising recruits through the ranks was accompanied by an even greater new gameplay component: multiplayer.
|Brotherhood marked the addition of multiplayer to the series.|
One of the more innovative takes on the genre this mode was complimented nicely by the fact that it fit - and made sense - within the Assassin's Creed universe.
Though many were initially dubious by the announcement (compounded by the fact the game was released only a year after Assassin's Creed 2) it proved to be an effective new game type wherein Abstergo used the ancestral memories of Renaissance Templars to train their modern day counterparts in the same way that the Assassins were using Ezio's memories to train Desmond - though as with everything in Assassin's Creed they got more than they bargained for.
This, in retrospect, was clearly the plan at least since Assassin's Creed 2 in which Desmond and Lucy pass through a room of Animii (the former asks what the plural for Animus is (I'm assuming that that's the spelling on Animii which is the correct form)) in Abstergo as they make their escape.
Those who spent much of the Assassin's Creed 2 rebuilding Monteriggioni will no doubt have felt a little pang as the town was razed to ground at the start of Brotherhood but Ubisoft gave players a much bigger template - the city of Rome.
The ability to take on Borgia Towers and wrestle control of a region marked a tactical incentive to explore (primary missions were easier in regions where Borgia control had been eliminated) and the capacity to upgrade and receive rents proved necessary to purchase the extensive array of equipment on sale.
This aspect of the game arguably got out of hand in Revelations' hack-handed tower defence mini-games yet in Brotherhood it was a welcome refinement. Ultimately that's what Brotherhood was, a refinement. In terms of combat, gameplay and more. But it was an excellent addition to the franchise nonetheless.