Another week, another major video game release. And while the news is still dominated by the moneymaking behemoth that is Call of Duty: Black Ops, an altogether more intricate and richly defined title launches today.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is the latest in Ubisoft's highly successful series of visually stunning action adventures. Following the travails of a secret society of assassins through hundreds of years of European history, the games combine acrobatic exploration with twisting conspiracy narratives and gutsy combat. While the opening instalment explored the chaos of the Crusades-era Middle East, Assassin's II and its follow-up move the action to Renaissance Italy, where the killer sect must once again confront its ongoing enemy, the shadowy Knights Templar order, now harboured within the increasingly powerful Catholic church.
What's interesting about the series is its successful use history as a game mechanic, and its ability to construct realistic environments around the largely fantastical story. The evocations of cities such as Jerusalem and Rome, while not always painstakingly accurate, have a sense of place and life that is almost unique in the video game sector.
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