Assassin's Creed has always been a single player experience. Throughout the series, the main focus has been between delivering an interesting and engaging storyline mixed with gameplay ideas that would only work in a single player environment. Or would they? Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood will be the first Assassin's Creed title to include a multiplayer mode which Gaming Union had the honour of playing at Ubisoft's booth at this year's E3. Though the demo was particularly short, it's clear what Ubisoft are doing and how much thought has been put into making the multiplayer modes different from the usual deathmatch settings found in almost everything else.
The game mode being featured was called 'Wanted', this mode allowed eight players to essentially hunt each other down. Each player was given a target (one of the other players) and their goal was to assassinate said target, the problem being, one of the other players is after them. Players are given a picture on-screen as to what their victim looks like and given a 'compass' at the bottom of the screen to find them. Sounds easy, but what with Assassin's Creed's notorious reputation for using the same character models all the time, players and their opponents will have a good number of doubles to hide next to. But that is really what it came down to, the player's ability to hide among others, act as part of the crowd and blend in, it was the key to winning as opposed to the losers skulking the rooftops, stuck out like a sore thumb.
But alas, what would an assassin be without his/her tools? At the start of each game and every re-spawn players will have access to a choice of weaponry and abilities to aid them against their foes. The demo at E3 was limited to a choice of three classes, each with their own advantages and disadvantages to those who lacked the skill to use them. The first class had access to the throwing knives and disguise, the knives are straight-forward but the disguise allowed a player to convert any surrounding civilians to look like themselves. The point of this was that if a player accidentally, or purposely, kills a civilian, then they are given a new target to hunt (wasting time) and they lose points. The second class had a gun and the capability to sprint, and the third class had smoke bombs and once again the disguise at their disposal.
Coupled with each players cunning and skill, the weapons and tools vary up the gameplay nicely, though limited by time, the game never felt like it would get boring quickly. The only complaint that should be addressed is that it's the same old setting that is present in every Assassin's Creed, even if the game is roughly set in the same time as the last. The multiplayer had it's own story element in that every character being played is a member of the Templars, the evil organization that opposes the Assassins from the previous Assassin's Creed games. The multiplayer is somewhat of a training exercise for them so that they may learn how to overcome their enemy. With this story element in mind, it is hopeful that Ubisoft will decide to experiment with their multiplayer maps, perhaps encompass forests and mountain settings into the fold.
To summarize, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood had a great multiplayer experience, it was a shame that it was a brief one. By the time the full game is shipped it can be expected that with the inclusion of more multiplayer modes, more customizable features and a whole new way to play, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood will be a good contender for game of the year.