Brotherhood? I'll stick with my AC2, thanks

By Bane Okholm | Mar 07, 2013

I'm pretty far behind the curve as far as video games go, I'll admit it. Consider my love for the now more than decade-old The Longest Journey, or the Myst series. Part of that is how I never seem to have the most cutting-edge console or compy, but once you get behind the eight ball, it's hard to get out in front again.

When I got my first Xbox 360 in 2008, the first game I picked to go along with it was 2K Boston/Irrational Games' Bioshock, and I had absolutely no regrets. Later, when I tried playing Assassin's Creed, a game I'd heard was fantastic, the user interface completely stumped me, and I stopped playing it in a giant huff.

Fast-forward a few years later, and I tried my hand at Assassin's Creed 2. Somehow the crossed wires - either in the game or myself - had been straightened out, and I was in love.

Ezio Auditore was the greatest virtual date I'd had in my life, and we spent hours climbing the towers of old Italy, finding feathers and treasures, and aerially assassinating corrupt minions of Rodrigo Borgia to my heart's content. I even insisted my good friends play the game, and they were hooked as quickly as I.

Yet whenever I try my hand at Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, AC2's quasi-sequel, I get nowhere. There's something about it that I find too restrictive, and it puts me off entirely.

The first time I tried ACB, I only got as far as taking out that first Borgia tower. I was completely affronted by the game insisting I take out the target by throwing him into that scaffolding to get a full sync. It had taken me long enough to complete the previous assassination mission, and after I purchased that first stable, I didn't pick the game up again for the better part of a year.

I tried playing ACB again about a week ago, and got much further. Now I was facing the Wolves of Romulus, and somehow I couldn't get on that non-damage-incurring streak the game was insisting was possible.

After an hour of fruitless play, I checked out some video tutorials, and was instantly dismayed. The game had made it sound as though that streak was a back-to-back assassination thing, when in fact, I'd been meant to practice defending against blows, counterattacking as often as possible.

There seems to be a major push in the past few years to try to control how players approach the game. Whether it's telling players how to have a successful experience, punishing them with a 50 percent sync when they screw up, or insisting that multiplayer arenas are really where you want to be, it's starting to invade on my happy fantasyland of the single-player experience.

I'm still unsure as to whether or not I'm going to try ACB again. Borgia towers loom over everywhere I want to go, and until I deal with them, I can't go clodhopping merrily along in search of tombs and armor as I used to. And that whole thing about training other assassins and sending them on mission strikes me as completely meh.

Maybe in the end I'll just try playing AC3, and see where that takes me. Until that time, though, it's back to maxing out Monteriggioni and faffing about in the familiar single-player stomping grounds I already know and love.

Courier Publications reporter Bane Okholm received her M.F.A. in Screenwriting from U.C.L.A. Email her at or follow her on Twitter @MediaHeathen.

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