AC Brotherhood picks up exactly where the second installment left off. As a gamer who truly enjoyed AC 2, I do consider this third chapter as a natural advance in the narrative. After the final confrontation between Ezio and his templar nemesis, Rodrigo Borgia, whose life was mercifully spared by Ezio in the second installment, the templar and his son Cesare Borgia mount a full scale attack on Ezio`s estate in Tuscany, razing the assassin`s villa and compelling him to travel to Rome, the hub of templar activity, in order to settle the score once and for all. Determined to visit justice upon Cesare, Ezio will have to carry out a number of missions throughout all 12 districts of Rome, which will bring him into contact with several characters from AC2 and new entries as well. In this respect, a remarkable introduction to the third chapter is the presence of twelve Borgia towers overseeing the districts, each representing Cesare`s control of the area. These lofty barbicans are guarded by one captain, whom you are required to assassinate in order to burn the building to the ground, and finally wrest control of the area from the enemy. These towers are very much a key element of the game because destructing them allows you to open up the area for business, and so renovate blacksmiths, tailors, banks, stables, which in turn will allow you to update your armour, weaponry, collect income, and so much more. But the real innovation of these towers is the fact that as you liberate districts, you will be able to recruit assassins as more citizens will then turn against the oppressor and decide to join your cause.
In terms of gameplay, mechanics have not changed much from the previous chapter. The bulk of missions is pretty similar in nature to those from AC2, with a number of innovations nonetheless. As aforementioned, one of the major changes is the presence of an assassin`s guild. As you liberate areas, more citizens will be available for recruit whom you can call upon at any time, especially when Ezio becomes embroiled into combat and the odds are stacked against him. As soon as you recruit citizens by saving them from Borgia soldiers, they will automatically join your guild and you will then have to train them up to the rank of assassin by sending them off to complete contracts throughout Europe. The harder a mission , the faster they rank up. On the downside, however, your options are quite limited here. While you can call them upon to even the odds during a fight, you can neither control any of them nor follow them on any of their missions, and since combat is not exactly that hard, one might well argue that there was no reason to tip the scales in Ezio`s favour as it might well make the game a bit less challenging!
The real innovation of the game, however, is the introduction of a multiplayer mode, which is both refreshing and inventive and quite addictive. The basic idea is that you are given a target and you have to assassinate them, and yet Brotherhood has four multiplayer modes which allow you to work in groups, be a pursuer and a target at the same time and so much more. What is more, while most of the action in single player takes place in Rome, in multiplayer you have a plethora of different locations at your disposal, including more familiar locations with AC2.
In conclusion, Brotherhood is certainly a great game and a natural choice for fans of the series, and of AC2 in particular. However, because this game really was designed as the natural continuation to AC2 my recommendation to those who are new to the series is to play AC2 first and then Brotherhood to make sure they make the most out of this awesome title.