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Opinion: AC Brotherhood didn't know what to do with Ezio


15 Apr 2024

Written By:

Edited By:

Colum Blackett

I recently visited Rome and so - as a nerd - replayed Assassin's Creed Brotherhood in preparation. 

It's the first time I've revisited the Ezio trilogy properly since 2017, when I marathoned the first five games before the release of Assassin's Creed Origins. I'm having a great time, the music swells a pure childish excitement in me, and Roger Craig Smith is amazing. 

Unfortunately, I've found the story this time through (my third or fourth playthrough now) quite lacklustre, especially the characterisation of Ezio. He's the charming Assassin hero we all remember, but has little extra depth. He's unstoppable, and since in this game he became the face of the franchise moving forward, feels more like a traditional gaming protagonist such as Master Chief or Doom Guy.

Here, he's a white hood and hidden blades, who's smooth with the ladies and an effective killer. But a lot of the self-doubt and anger that plagued him in Two - and I think made him so interesting to begin with - has been stripped back for him to become the ideal Assassin Mentor. 

It's a shame really, especially considering the story the game sets up. The prologue of Brotherhood recaps Ezio facing the man ultimately responsible for his father's death, realising revenge isn't the answer, before learning that he's not even the main character of his own story. He starts the game finding out his actions don't matter, and that he's nothing more than a messenger or middle-man in a wider story. 

Following this he loses his home and uncle, a man who had previously given him purpose in the brotherhood. At this point, he'd logically be adrift, homeless, without a guiding figure and burdened with the knowledge that he's nothing more than a pawn in another's story. Mario, the only person who could probably reassure him at this moment and give him a new purpose, is gone, he's more alone than ever. 

That's a really interesting place for a narrative, and based on his behaviour in Two, would push him to seek revenge. Forgiveness didn't work is a conclusion that would be easy for him to reach after the Borgia’s invaded his home and Rodrigo chose to not repay Ezio’s kindness. Now it's time to take no prisoners. 

Brotherhood doesn't tell that story, Ezio barely mourns Mario's death or the loss of his home and quickly begins taking down Borgia strongholds across Rome. He's cool, calm and collected, and rarely if ever makes a mistake. The game tries to add intrigue by questioning Machiavelli’s loyalties, but Ezio stays neutral throughout that subplot before exposing the truth. This again could've been interesting, after Mario's death Ezio could become more paranoid, seeing enemies everywhere and calling for the death of Machiavelli before discovering the truth. He's a leader now, with a lot more responsibility, and his mistakes have larger consequences. It could be a moment of reflection pushing him to be better, but instead it's just another situation Ezio swiftly fixes. 

This is even reflected in his new robes, now pristine white and red, looking as if they were carved in marble. Ezio is statuesque, a perfect figure of Assassin morality and skill. They've lost the rugged swagger of Giovanni’s (far superior) robes, or the put together feel of Altair's armour, which show him putting his own stamp on the brotherhood's legacy. I don't HATE these robes by any means, and they've become the archetype for the series moving forward for good reason, but they're easily my least favourite of Ezio's selection (other than the armour of Brutus but I try and forget that exists).

Brotherhood is still an excellent game, it holds up in many ways and as previously mentioned Roger Craig Smith's performance doesn't falter even if the script does. I just feel on reflection it tells a flat story, taking an interesting character and turning him bland. Ezio's other stories are far more interesting, questioning his reasoning and determination. I wish there was more about that here, a mid-life crisis for Ezio as he has to move from student to master and all responsibility rests on his shoulders. This is a time for him to make mistakes, before becoming the ideal mentor in Revelations, who then has to accept he's too old to carry on while reflecting on what made him choose this path to begin with. Instead it's an unquestioning tale of a flawless hero, who now drives tanks, flies bombers, and leads an army.

What are your thoughts on Assassin's Creed Brotherhood?

Were you happy with the evolution of Ezio?

Let us know in the comments below!


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About the Author

Finn is a creative writer from Rotherham, UK who has previously supported TOWCB's Fundraising events, and raised awareness surrounding Men's Mental Health.

Finn's writing covers a wide scope, with releases so far including reviews, interviews and stories. He is known in the AC Community for his 'Pitching an Assassin's Creed Game' series, all of which you can find here on TOWCB website!

Finn Fletcher

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