E3 2010: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Hands-On PreviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Jun 15, 2010
What We Already Know:
Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood picks up directly after the events of Assassin’s Creed II. That game’s virtual assassin Ezio Auditore -- who is being controlled via the virtual-world generator Animus by Assassin’s Creed star Desmond Miles -- is on the hunt for the diabolical Templars on their home turf of Rome. The game will feature a deep single-player experience, complete with all the trappings fans of the series have come to know and love, but it most notably will feature the franchise’s first attempt at multiplayer.
What We’re Seeing Now:
I recently spent some hands-on time with the game’s much-discussed multiplayer mode at Ubisoft’s pre-E3 2010 event. When the multiplayer was first announced, may AC fans were understandably curious (read: skeptical) as to how it would fit in with the very solitary experience of being an assassin. Thankfully, Ubisoft Montreal thought about this very proposition, and came up with a clever solution (not unlike the approach 2K Marin took with the similarly controversial multiplayer mode in BioShock 2): use narrative.
In Brotherhood, you aren’t simply other Desmond Miles’s in other assassin’s bodies, running around Rome and other various Mediterranean cities trying to kill the seven other players you’re playing against. You actually play as Templars who are using Animuses of their own to learn to become assassins just like Desmond once did. So in multiplayer, you’re actually training your enemy. The idea of assassins vs. Templars was one of the first that came to mind when I first heard that the Ubisoft studios that developed the multiplayer portion of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory were also brought on to work on Brotherhood’s multiplayer. But the fact that it’s actually Templars vs. Templars is a total surprise, and actually a fantastic one.
My hands-on time was limited to one mode in which each player was assigned another player to assassinate. This, of course, means that every player is a target themselves as well. So as you're hunting, you’re also being hunted, which creates a wonderful sense of tension and surprise that, even in my brief hands-on time, had my heart racing for the duration of the match.
Now, you might have seen some of the promotional art for the game, which features a number of different characters all dressed in various elaborate Renaissance attire. This is important because it means that other players are indistinguishable from NPCs, assuming the player isn’t running around knocking people down and drawing attention to themselves. Once you know your target, your HUD will show you the general area where that player is. After you locate your target, you can lock onto them and mark them so that they appear more easily on the screen. And this is where the real fun starts.
If you do your job right, your target will never see you coming, and you’ll land on them from above or pop out from around a corner to knife them in the throat. However, if your target spots you, then you have to chase them down, and this leads some spectacular acrobatic sequences. The environment also has triggers that will help fleeing targets, like giant doors that will shut as soon as the player being chased runs through them, effectively cutting off the pursuing player’s path.
I only saw a snippet of what Brotherhood’s multiplayer has to offer, but from what I saw, it has the potential to sneak up on a lot of people. Watch your back.