The ladies of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood have both bark and bite. If you played Assassin’s Creed II, then you already know Caterina Sforza, the comely Italian countess with a soft spot for sly, rugged assassins. She’s not the only female character with an important role to play in Brotherhood, however. Claudia Auditore is no longer just a submissive bookkeeper, but rather a strong young woman who eventually learns to handle a blade. And then there’s Cesare Borgia’s cunning sister Lucrezia, whose sharp tongue is matched by her severe, almost vampiric appearance. These willful women are ensemble players in the continuing drama of Ezio Auditore, the self-assured star of Assassin’s Creed II. His story continues in Brotherhood, which begins directly after the events that closed its predecessor. This follow-up tale doesn’t have the same impact of the story that spawned it, but Ezio’s world is a wonder to inhabit, filled with amazing architectural detail and bursting with tons of enjoyable content.
Ezio is not the only leading man in this ongoing tale. He’s an ancestor of Desmond Miles, the near-future bartender who has remained a series constant. You play Desmond in several terrific sequences, the final of which concludes with a moment so staggering it rivals Assassin’s Creed II’s ending for pure shock value. It’s unfortunate that Ezio’s part of the story isn’t as memorable as Desmond’s, or indeed, as memorable as his previous journey. The setup is simple: After a battle at the family’s villa in Monteriggioni, Ezio’s nemesis, Cesare Borgia, steals the all-important artifact known as the Apple of Eden. With the help of Caterina and other old friends, Ezio heads to Rome to retrieve the Apple and rid the city of Borgia influence. There’s a bit of drama when an associate is accused of betrayal, but for the most part, Brotherhood’s straightforward plot doesn’t have much emotional impact, and because Ezio exhibits little personal growth, there’s the slightest hint of staleness to his escapades.