Video game sequels are often seen as a safe bet, but it's unusual to see a follow-up just a year after its predecessor, as in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's historical manhunt. Is this a rushed cash-in, or an inspired development?

Despite its shorter gestation period, Brotherhood seems to have fared no worse than its award-winning predecessor.

What's more, though publishers Ubisoft pushed the game's new cat-and-mouse multiplayer mode for much of the run up to release, it seems that the single player mode is just as accomplished.

Of the big specialist sites to pass judgement, GameTrailers was one of the most critical, dissatisfied with combat and mission variety, anticipating a short-lived appeal for online multiplayer, yet still deeming it worthy of a sparkling 9/10.

Overall, the cat-and-mouse multiplayer is refreshing (though perhaps owes its inspiration to PC cult hit The Ship), recruiting other assassins works well, and - if the occasionally bizarre storyline can be accepted - it's by and large seen as a well-timed improvement for those who liked Assassin's Creed II.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3)
North America, November 16. Europe, November 18. Rated Mature / 18+.
Standard edition, $59 US / €59. Special editions, $99-$149 / €75-€85.

Eurogamer: 10/10 ( Read full review)
"Played at a reasonable pace, you can overlook the simplicity of the empire-building, along with the infrequent difficulty spikes" "Multiplayer feels gripping and unusual" "One of the best games of 2010"

Gamersyde ( English / French)
"Excellent and appropriate music tracks" "Graphically, Brotherhood certainly doesn't disappoint" "A game that we can't recommend enough"

Kotaku: Gold Star, Editor's Choice ( Read full review)
"Nearly bloated with fun things to do" "Everything from the game's writing to the soundtrack is top-flight. Mission design is wonderful" "Ubisoft has made it hard to stop playing this game"

Destructoid: 9.5/10 ( Read full review)
"Manages to completely outclass its predecessor" "A fresh, fun take on competitive multiplayer" "Probably not the narrative follow-up that fans wanted"

GameTrailers: 9/10 ( Watch video review)
"As lengthy and deep as its predecessor" "It's still exhilarating to run from rooftop to rooftop, and still frustrating when the precision is undermined" "More than enough to make this Brotherhood one worth joining"

Joystiq: 4.5/5 ( Read full review)
"A completely unique take on multiplayer" "An absolutely exceptional game" "The game's biggest weakness is its lack of any sense of progression"

1UP: A- ( Read full review)
"The only real back-story you're given is a short video" "The Rome in Brotherhood is gigantic" "Multiplayer is a nice addition, but I can't see myself playing [it] as frequently as the solid single-player"

IGN: 8.0/10 ( Read full review)
"[The multiplayer] is refreshing and inventive. In a neat twist, you're actually playing as the bad guys" "It really feels like treading the same old ground, without great improvements"