While every game attempts to gazump Call Of Duty by offering the exact same suite of features, we've been slowly playing less and less attention. Multiplayer used to be a feature that got us vastly excited about any game that supported it. Nowadays we spend 5-10 minutes seeing how a title implements Team Deathmatch before never touching the component again. So it was with some hesitation we reported on Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's multiplayer announcement. "Why does this franchise need multiplayer?" we pondered. Having spent some time with the game's online beta, we understand. In fact, we're converts.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is brilliant in multiplayer. While it does ape Call Of Duty by offering perks and load-outs, it does it in a way that make sense. This game is not trying to be Call Of Duty like so many others, it is drawing from the game's hugely popular feature-set to elevate its own component.
The actual multiplayer gameplay itself is blissfully unique. And it ties in wonderfully to the Assassin's Creed lore. The "Wanted" mode that forms the multiplayer beta has you taking out contracts against other players. The key is to eliminate the target with as much stealth as possible. If you start running or acting suspiciously, the other player will be given a window to escape. You'll also sacrifice precious XP. So you'll need to use cunning to flank the enemy, and land a kill. The skill lies in your ability to pursue enemies without drawing attention to yourself. It's also worth noting that while you pursue others, opponents will be in search for you. As such, you'll need to concentrate on your own surroundings aswell as your targets.
It works brilliantly, largely thanks to the multiplayer's design and compass system. The compass allows you to easily track your opponent, without giving away their exact position. NPC characters occupying the map will have the same appearance as the player characters — and you'll be penalised if you kill a civilian. So you need to suss the enemy out by analysing their behaviour.
While you pursue a victim, you need to be aware of yourself. You will be being pursued too, so you need to avoid all the telling signs you are looking for in your target. If you suddenly start running or climbing, you're going to make yourself visible. It's a brilliant risk and reward system that adds a ton of depth to the component.
The multiplayer's enhanced by a number of unlockable perks and kill-streaks. We unlocked a "Disguise" perk which allowed us to take the form of another character. This made it difficult for pursuers to seek us out, as we occupied a different character model to the one they were targeting. These perks have a cool-down period, so you can't use them continuously.
The levelling system is also fairly satisfying. Each kill will reward you with 100 XP - but you'll also earn bonuses depending on how you performed the kill. For example, were you silent? It's possible to play the game by just running around and stabbing people; but you'll be rewarded for playing in stealth and being crafty.
It all reeks of polish. It's obvious Ubisoft's spent a lot of time developing the mode and making it work. We questioned Assassin's Creed's ability to implement multiplayer for months on end. "How could it possibly work?" we asked. The result is obvious and brilliant. Brotherhood's multiplayer does work. Emphatically so. It's such a refreshing change from the shooter-ridden landscape. We expect to spend a lot of time with this over the holidays.