e3 2010

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood Innovates Through Multiplayer

by Matt Miller on Jun 16, 2010 at 08:34 PM

Ubisoft has implemented a brilliant new multiplayer system that fits right into the Assassin's Creed fiction, and we can't get enough of the unique new mode. We had our doubts about the idea of introducing multiplayer into the universe, but one round in the surprisingly different multiplayer mode has sold us on its potential.

Players of Assassin's Creed 2 will recall Desmond's hurried run through a giant room filled with dozens of Animus machines as he fled Abstergo. As it turns out, Dr. Vidic is training an army of templars to fight against Desmond and the Assassins, and he's using these machines as the tools to do it. Players adopt the role of templars who inhabit the lives and experiences of Renaissance personas, and from there they learn the fine art of assassination and deceit.

Players pick between one of several different avatars: a cloaked prowler, an enticing courtesan, a beak-nosed doctor, and many more. You'll also choose between several different ability loadouts, each of which will capitalize on certain situations within the game world.

In the Wanted game mode, once dropped into the streets of a Renaissance Italian city, you are assigned a target that appears in the upper right of the screen. Your enemy is one of the other players, but there are many other identical looking figures (most of them NPCs) that exist out on the streets. You have a radar that points you towards your potential target, but once you're close, only your powers of observation will help you succeed. Even as you track a target, someone is simultaneously targeting you. It becomes essential to keep a low profile and blend with your surroundings as you approach a target, because you never know when the player pursuing you is on your tail.

Inevitably, your hunter will find you, and the time for subterfuge has passed. At this point, you'll have to break into a run and try to evade and then hide from your enemy. Many features of the environment help give you an edge to get away, like the ability to slam metal gates behind you, or jump into a hiding spot. Get away successfully, and your opponent loses you as his or her target, and must move on to a new foe. If you're on offense, your sole goal is to prevent such an escape, and sink your weapon into the target before they get away.

Equipped abilities help to flesh out the challenge. One intriguing example is called Morph; while running from your pursuer, you need only meld into a group of other citizens and trigger the ability to make the surrounding crowd appear exactly like you, almost like a personal chaff to throw off a pursuing weapon. Speed Boost is a simple but valuable ability that aids on either offense or defense by giving a short sprint to get close to an enemy or add distance from an attacker. The Gun special ability lets you take out your opponents from a far away rooftop. And a special cloaking ability makes you appear like a different sort of character for a brief time. Most of these abilities are on a timer, so it's essential that you save them for advantageous situations.

During the match we played, we observed and attempted a number of interesting tactical approaches. At one point, we were targeting a doctor who we knew to be within just a few feet, as our radar indicator was maxed out. Because of this, he certainly knew that he was being hunted, and had been alerted to an attacker's presence. Rather than run, he'd hidden himself among two other doctors standing by a storefront. All three doctors were standing still, so it was nearly impossible to tell which target to attack. When we chose the wrong target, we lost the chance to take out the correct enemy.

In another situation, we experienced a great chase scene after a courtesan tipped her hand too early and charged us from across a town square. Guessing her target, we ran away and clambered up to a nearby roof as she pursued. Only by leaping down into a hay cart did we lose her.

This unique approach to multiplayer was surprisingly addictive, and after a full match, it was easy to want more. Deceit and trickery has been implemented into the experience in a way never-before-seen in a video game, and there's huge potential built into the concept. The demo made for one of the more exciting experiences on this year's show floor, and we can't wait to check out more of this great mode, as well as see what other tricks Ubisoft has up its sleeve for this year's installment when it releases on November 16th. For a sneak peek, make sure to check out the multiplayer trailer.