In short: Fun, confusing, a slower paced experience that is worth the play through, even though death match is definitely the only truly well put together mode.

If you'd like to experience it first hand but don't want a whole lot of explanation, there you are.

Long Explanation:

I enjoy the slower pace of this game as compared to online games like shooters. Battlefield and Call of Duty all have their times to shine. But this game puts you into a crowded map with up to eight other players, gives you all sharp bladed objects, and tells you to go at it. There's nothing quite like it. But it is fun, none the less.

Ill get it out of the way that the only mode worth playing is deathmatch. There's a form of capture the flag but it really sucks. The different modes of death match have about three different types. Easy deathmatch puts you against 8 people with no tricks or abilities, you get a picture of the person you're supposed to kill and you have to do so while evading the people out to kill you first. Regular deathmatch is a very similar setup but with added abilities like proximity mines you can lay down to stun your pursuers or the ability to change your appearance for a short time to throw off would be assassins. There's a larger version of deathmatch, again with eight players, with expanded maps and a reticule to indicate your target's proximity and direction to you. I'm more of a fan of the third. The third mode's maps can be a bit too big and the reticule kind of robs a certain feeling of skill.

It's a very simple process. You accrue points by killing your target and evading or stunning your pursuers. The more skillful your skill, the more points you score. For instance, running around like mad man may get you to your target quicker, but it attracts much more attention and nets you fewer points. Basically, unlike most games, more kills doesn't necessarily mean top score. Running a target down nets you 150 points, but anticipating your target's movement and waiting in a hay bale with no witnesses may net you anywhere from 700-1000 points.

But unfortunately, the point system seems fickle. Ive stalked a target for nearly a minute into an ally and killed him from behind to gain 300 points. But then someone who had been ordered to kill me ran up a few seconds later and slit my throat for 700. There's little explanation, and there's no concrete amount of points awarded. It can get very confusing and irritating to be in the top three, only to have someone run around on the roofs, then jump down and kill you for more points than you've received for three stealthy kills.

Another problem is that at the beginning of the game you are given the choice of an avatar out of a list of nine (in the beta at least). When you play on the map, however, the computer generates random npcs from the nine player choices. However, the map only features about five of the choices. So what you get is a map where a player who chose one avatar could blend in easily with a crowd of other identical skinned characters and some characters who are the only one on the entire map. It's difficult to keep a low profile when you're the only woman on the whole map wearing a white gown. Basically, someone sticks out like a sore thumb and is doomed from the start. Hopefully on actual release the game will generate npcs of all skins to blend in easier. If not, dress in red as much as you can, cause most of the people from this period apparently loved that color. And if you aren't lucky enough to get that avatar, god speed.

Ability sets and tools are a little complicated sometimes. Thowing knives for instance only work if you lock onto a person, and it takes about three of them to kill a target, but your throwing rate is terrible. Another hiccup comes from the character animations. When you manage to kill your target your avatar goes into a pre rendered animation for a few seconds. The problem is that this leaves you vulnerable for seconds on end and makes you a sitting duck for those people out to stab you in the back. It also makes it more viable to simply run around recklessly to stay in a position to escape. It takes away from the whole "be patient and skilled, not brash and foolish." I can't tell you how many times i had a score like 5 kills to 1 death only to be beaten by someone who was 10 to 15. It doesn't seem like there's much incentive to, ya know, not dying. An ending match bonus would be nice.

And while you are targeted almost the whole time, you aren't defenseless. If your pursuer reveals himself and you manage to surprise him, you can stun him, robbing him of the chance to kill you and terminating his contract on your life. But it isn't easy or perfect. I salute it's realism in the fact that you can't counter if you aren't facing them, and if you fight back as they are striking at you, the attacker will always have the advantage giving them a "contested kill" and you an "honorable death". You still die and they still get points, but they receive much less and you get a little something for your timing. But I've been robbed of many kills by someone who in no way could have seen me, and many times ive executed a stun only to have them kill me anyways, albeit not without a fight. Little problems like that cause annoyance.

While there are a lot of bugs and hiccups to work out, in my opinion, my taste of the multiplayer has been a fun one. If it wasn't, I really wouldn't play it. But it's a taste for a certain person. If you need heart pacing action all the time, you probably won't like this as much as your tried and true shooters. But like a good thriller movie or novel, this experience plays at your mind. Npc civilians will approach you and your paranoia will begin to cause you to look around for those chasing at your heels while you seek your target in the shadows. It's a slower and (arguably) more skillful playing experience to change up the usual multiplayer scene.