What time do you call this, Ezio? PC gamers finally get a taste of ACB
In case you hadn't already figured it out, Strategy Informer has a bit of a soft spot for Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. First, we gave the console version a 9.5, calling it "one of this year's finest releases". We then slapped a big old Game of the Year sticker on it, just to further drive home the point that this really is a game worth looking into.
Finally, we took The Da Vinci Disappearance DLC for a spin, and boy what a spin it was. Of course, in all our excitement, we forgot to console the PC gamers (double meaning, perhaps?) on the missing PC release. Fear not, desktop keyboardists - your chariot awaits, with Ezio Auditore at the reins. Not only that, but he's brought plenty of extras as a sort of 'I'm sorry' gesture.
Finally swinging onto PC...
If you want to know how fantastic Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is, your best bet is to head over and read our original review. In a nutshell, it's gorgeous, huge, often surprising, and packs a multiplayer punch to die for (and you will, plenty of times). No, what we're going to focus on here is how the PC version weighs up to the consoles.
You may remember that the Ubisoft DRM that tainted Assassin's Creed 2 caused quite an uproar, forcing you to stay online the entire time you played. If you're connection dropped at any point, that would be your current mission status out of the window as the game crashed to the title screen.
Fortunately, Ubisoft has seen sense this time around, and although certain security elements are present, it's barely noticeable anymore and definitely doesn't feel as intrusive. The game requires a one-time activation to begin with, but after that you can play the single player offline whenever you desire. The multiplayer requires you have a connection (duuh) and some of the DLC does too, but that's it.
There is the initial Ubisoft launcher too which, in all honesty we would have preferred to be rid of, but then again, PC games have been using launchers for decades, so now we're just splitting hairs. In other words, moaning to game publishers most definitely does work. We can make a difference!
Regarding the multiplayer - your friends list is available from the main Esc menu, where you can add other ASB players and then jump into a game. It's quick and easy, as is diving in with random strangers too. We didn't experience a single drop or time out, and in general lost yet another good many hours to this most wonderful of online experiences.
In terms of gameplay, the only real difference is the controls, which play out in a similar fashion to those from the original Assassin's Creed 2 PC edition. Holding down the right mouse button allows Ezio to access his secondary set of actions, which are all usually more forceful than the primary variations. Walk + right click = run! Push + right click = shove! You get the picture.
The only slight niggle we had was with the uses of the E and Shift keyboard buttons. It can feel very confusing working out which you're meant to be using - for example, E is used to talk to people and initiate certain acts, while Shift is used to open door and, well, use things. On an Xbox 360 or PS3 controller this makes sense, but on a keyboard it's a little odd. Text pops up to tell you which to press, but it's nice to be able to get to your destination and give the appropriate button a jab without having to be told.
Another good score!? This game's on fire! (ED: Really Mike? REALLY?)
The PC version also comes with all the DLC packs free of charge. Animus Project Update 1.0 and 2.0 are free on the consoles anyway, so that's not exactly huge news - but the inclusion of the Da Vinci Disappearance DLC for free is rather nice. Altogether, these packs offer around two hours of extra single player action, and more content for the multiplayer, including three maps, four modes and four new characters. Excellent stuff.
ASSASSIN'S CREED: BROTHERHOOD VERDICT
Thing is, while this is all well and good, we do have to wonder what took Ubisoft so long to port it over. Four months later, and the buzz surrounding the game has died down, with console owners instead waiting for the next instalment to continue the tale. The free DLC nearly makes up for it, but PC gamers will still feel a little let down. If you’ve still not got around to giving it a play, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is a masterpiece that deserves your time - and with all the added extras now firmly in place, there has never been a better time for PC gamers to delve into Ezio Auditore’s world.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Calling in your own band of assassins to carry out your dirty work