Strangeness aside, it doesn't really matter, because you'll spend most of your time getting together your clan of assassins. The long story is that there are numerous Borgia towers across the city, and for each tower you infiltrate and burn down you're able to add additional members to your group. You'll find them via icons marked on your map, which will bring you to an everyday citizen being taunted by a group of guards. Kill the guards and the citizen will decide to join your ranks; from here on they can be called on at any time to help you assassinate someone you've selected. It's a more complex and hands-on approach to what was possible in the previous games - paying for the help of a small group of disposable thugs. Assassins can be levelled up, sent out on assassination gigs for training, and told specifically who to attack and when. It's stupendously helpful, particularly in situations where you're just not bothered, when you're getting into a scrape, and in the inevitable scenario where you're halfway up a tower and realise an archer is taking pot shots at your tail.
The ability to call in help allows you to focus on your objective and have others take care of distractions as you wish, but pacing in the game is still often a bit hit and miss. Ground-based missions, the kind that don't give you the opportunity to run from roof to roof, are frustratingly unnatural. Brotherhood's escort quests are essentially exasperatingly slow Christmas shopping simulators compared to the flow of the rest of its gameplay, but generally speaking Brotherhood swiftly progresses from mission to fight to mission.
It also adopts one of the more interesting multiplayer concepts we've seen in a while, one that will be familiar to anyone who played The Ship. Its conceit here is that you play as a Templar who has been hooked up to an Animus for training. Each six-player, 10-minute session has you in the role of both an assassin, attempting to locate and take out a fellow player, and a target for your rivals. Observation is the name of the game, because in order to succeed you need to act as if you are an NPC. Running up walls and hurtling yourself into crowds will only get you noticed by your pursuer and the player you're attempting to take out.
Points are awarded for each successful assassination, with the reward depending on how exactly you made your hit and how stealthily you managed it. It's a game of cat and mouse, and Brotherhood implements it perfectly, turning its PvP into the most nail-biting experience of the game. It's a shame it's as buggy as it is. Even in a full six-person session the game will often fail to assign me a new target after I finished off my last. It seems the only solution is to be killed and respawn elsewhere, which obviously isn't brilliant for the kills/deaths ratio. But assuming a patch is incoming, and taking multiplayer simply in terms of how it implements a good idea, Brotherhood's stealthy deathmatches are undoubtedly intriguing. Compare the mode to the reams of Capture the Flag variants that riddle multiplayer games and you could even call it refreshing. But it's still a niche attraction: Turning observation and mimicry into a part of gameplay is incredibly interesting but a novelty game mode such as this will always be stuck deep in the shadow of big name multiplayer titles.
But regardless of such shortcomings, Brotherhood's success lies in taking what made AC2 work and simultaneously making it more coherent and more cinematic. It's an exercise in perfecting what you've already got working; you're not going to find much in the way of completely new material, but this is a superior game to its predecessor and a solid bridge to the next entry in the series.