Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC
If ever there was an argument in favour of videogame sequels, it's Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed franchise. The first iteration was, in essence, a tech demo. Sure, the Crusades-era Holy Land setting was cool, as was the Kristen Bell-assisted sci-fi conspiracy framing device and the parkour-inspired character movement. Oh, and being an assassin (for the legendary Muslim sect known as Hashshashin) waging war against the Christian Knights Templar was pretty rad too.

But somehow the game wound up being repetitive and boring. The sequel took what worked and bumped along the timeline to the Renaissance, making the most of its historically steeped Florence setting and, more importantly, focused on building an open-world worth exploring and a story worth finishing.

For round three, the Montreal-based developers decided to eschew a numbered sequel and instead spend more time with Renaissance man Ezio Auditore. The apocalyptic master plot still involves a near-future 2012 war between the Assassins and the Templar, as latter-day assassin Desmond Miles uses a virtual reality simulator dubbed the Animus to enter his genetic memories and relive his ancestors' adventures.

Ezio's entire family was murdered in the last game, and vengeance and tradition drive much of his current motivations. His innovations, however, are driven by Leonard DaVinci (one of countless historical figures), while romantic flashbacks add emotional depth.

In the wake of the previous game's fiery finale, Ezio regroups in the countryside before heading over to Rome, where the once regal city is falling apart, thanks to the corrupt Templars, who now control the Vatican. (Not only is Rome three times the size of the already sprawling Florence, but you'll also visit parts of Spain, Tuscany and Naples.) Though you seemingly killed most of the Borgia family, who killed your family, turns out there are plenty more Borgias to assassinate.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is a slightly improved version of its predecessor, with combat tightened up and a new strategy involving recruiting civilians to your cause, as Ezio and BFF Niccolo Machiavelli create the titular brotherhood. Still, slightly improving upon a near-classic is enough for the third Assassin's Creed to be well worth making time for. (Ubisoft)