Okay, I’ll be honest; I had to Google exactly what ‘gameplay’ was.
Wikipedia describes it as ‘the specific way in which players interact with a game’, as ‘defined through the game rules, connection between player and the game, challenges and overcoming them, plot and player’s connection with it’. Graphical quality and audio are separate from gameplay; it is simply how the game is played.
Before I wrote the above paragraph I had a few ideas. I really like the style of Cook, Serve, Delicious!; originally developed by Vertigo Games as a PC exclusive, I find the keyboard-only system easy and fun to use. My brain will forever retain the information that ‘BOMG’ is the code for a salad with everything on it.
Eventually you get more and more customers making more and more complicated orders until your keyboard is a flurry of fingers rushing frantically across the letters until your family barge in and demand to know what all the banging is.
But, as I wrote the first paragraph, I realised there could only be one. It’s an obvious one, played and loved by millions of people around the globe. Developed and published by Ubisoft, it’s Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood.
People say that moving the controls over from console to PC is a detriment to the overall feel of the game, making it clunky and difficult to handle. But I’ve never played any Assassin’s Creed game on anything other than PC, so not only can I not tell the difference but the feeling of using WASD while also pressing down Shift and Space and pretending your hand isn’t cramping is actually rather nostalgic. In subsequent games the controls have been made simpler, meaning fewer cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, but less control over your character. Swings and roundabouts.
Combat mechanics also got a makeover since the previous Assassin’s Creed II. In the first game, street-fights were simple to the point of tedium; counter-attacks were much more powerful than if the player attacked first, meaning fights are stunted while you wait for the enemy to attack you. However, in Brotherhood, Ezio got an ability boost. Aggressive actions do much more damage, giving the player more freedom to choose their own playstyle.
A big addition in Brotherhood are the Assassin Recruits. City guards got you in a pickle? Call in some minions to help out, and they’ll fly in while still somehow keeping their hoods up. But what I really liked was being able to send them on little missions around Italy. I even made up little backstories for my Assassin gang and got really sad if they died. I just got a really good feeling out of having this army of loyal soldiers and sending them out to do my bidding, like little gremlins. Fly, my pretties, fly!
The overarching feeling I remember from Brotherhood is how the game flowed. The free-running is smooth, the climbing is satisfying both to do and to watch. Flying through the streets of Rome and coming to a corner? No worries, a handy lantern is there to fling you around and continue you on your journey. It’s easy, addictive, and beautiful gameplay.
Ezio himself is an extremely likable character, the best protagonist in Assassin’s Creed so far. And not only that, but being able to explore both 16th and 21st century Monteriggioni is such a cool experience. Desmond’s story is so engaging; I miss it, and I miss him. That dual storyline is something I really really miss in Assassin’s Creed nowadays – I understand the franchise has to move on, and I appreciate the new direction, but I can’t relate to the nameless mug who plays through the storylines of Edward, Shay, Arno, the Frye twins, etc.
I need to know who you are and what your motives are. How did you end up at Abstergo? Why are you helping the Assassins? Did you even know anything about this conflict before you got here? Who are you?
Brotherhood is the last Assassin’s Creed game that I truly truly enjoyed without any reservation. I usually try to embrace when games make a move in a new direction, especially when a franchise has been going for a long time. Stagnation is never good. But a pot that’s left boiling isn’t stagnating. I think, even after all the years since the end of Desmond’s story, that this was a mistake.
Tl:dr: Ezio & friends 5eva. ❤