Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

[Hands-On] Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Multiplayer

Do you enjoy stabbing things?
Author: Scott Rodgers
Published: October 11, 2010
As our preview of Dead Space 2ís multiplayer said, more and more studios are integrating competitive multiplayer modes in traditionally single player titles. Itís becoming less of a trend and more of the standard, as multiplayer extends a titleís lifespan, brings in a bigger audience, and in general if itís fun the word of mouth can sell a boatload of copies itself.

When you mix an already massive franchise, a different take on the traditional free for all game type, and a very unique class system, you get Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood. Ubisoft is taking a major risk here, coming out with another Assassinís Creed so soon. Of course, the biggest change comes from fact that this game, despite having a single player campaign, will revolve around its multiplayer.

I recently got my hands on the Brotherhood beta. I didnít know what to expect, especially as a fan of the series. Doubts and worries dominated my thoughts. ACís combat has never been revolutionary, focusing around counter attacks. Most multiplayer titles reward quick strikes, but this particular game rewarded patience and seizing opportunities.

But after my first round, it clicked.

Iíve seen one word tossed around a lot when it pertains to Brotherhoodís multiplayer: tense. And truly, that is the best way to describe it. Running will get you killed; everyone looks the same, and the entire time you are stalked. You know someone is after you, and it could be the guy sitting on a bench around the corner or someone in that group of priests walking around.

All the while, you are tracking a target that is experiencing the same sort of paranoia. Since the combat has always been a lightning rod for criticism, itís good to see Ubisoft has taken that out of the equation. When you get close, all it takes is a simple button press to attack. It wouldnít be an Assassinís Creed game without free running, and it is just as easy and natural as it has always been. The problem is that playing the game like in single player or what you think you should do (at least initially) will only get you killed.

There are nine different classes and though they control the same, each has its own quirks. Even though the executioner uses an axe and the doctor uses a giant needle, theyíre both basically the same. Where the gameplay changes, however, is with the perks. Smoke bombs, poison, and the hidden gun all return from Assassinís Creed 2. All of those drastically change how the game is played, and to add to the tension, until you have no idea who has what. Your pursuer could just as easily fire off a shot as he could run you down.

And thatís where the other half the equation comes in: movement. As I said earlier, running will lead to disaster. To blend in youíre going to have to walk within groups, sit at benches, and even stand still with a group of AI having a conversation. The best defense is to stay with a group of clones as much as possible. Truthfully, this benefits priests and courtesans the most as I have found that their groups spawn together a lot more frequently. However, there is no guarantee youíll have enough time to get to said groups.

The two maps that are available are Siena and Rome. The former is a smaller map like setting that is packed to the brim with AI, while the latter is much larger and lends itself well to those who want to go vertical. I have found that Siena to be more fun, simply because it is great to watch chases as youíre trying to be one of the crowd.

In my experience, those who do choose to go vertical tend to lose. Even though their chances of evading death are drastically increased, and there are some balancing issues with constant ďdeaths from above,Ē a lot of the time they have trouble keeping pace with players who stick to the ground. Even though youíre more vulnerable, it is by far the best way to rack up points. Itís amazing to sit next to a clone on a bench and watch your pursuer stab the AI and lose your contract (I have been on both ends of this, unfortunately).

Overall, Assassinís Creed: Brotherhoodís beta shows that this game not only works with competitive multiplayer, but it excels. I have told other members of the staff that the beta alone is the best multiplayer experience I have had on the PS3 this year, even nudging out Red Dead Redemption. Be sure to check out the game when it releases on November 16, 2010.

Just make sure to watch your back.