Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Hands-On Preview

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Naturally, the follow-up to GamerNode’s 2009 Game of the Year, Assassin’s Creed II, would be high on our list of "must-sees" at this year’s E3. The question that stood fast in my mind leading up to the show, however, was whether the free-roaming, third-person assassination play style would be a suitable fit for multiplayer gaming, which is a heavy focus in Ubisoft Montreal’s new title, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. After some hands-on time with the game, any concerns in that department have been laid to rest.

What I played was called Wanted mode, which was the only mode disclosed to press at the show. In this contest, up to eight players are dropped into a section of the game’s open-designed city, and must assassinate others in order to accrue points and win the game. Each assassin (who is really a Templar training in an Animus in the Abstergo training facility) has one random target from among the other players, and is a target himself. As a sort of handicapping mechanism, players who rise in rank may have increased numbers of predators on their trail as the match progresses.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

To locate targets, players have a few tools at their disposal. First, there is a portrait of the marked character in the top-right corner of the screen, but this is only a partially effective tool, as multiple NPCs share the design of the player characters. The far more useful tracking device is the circular radar at the bottom of the screen. This points in the direction of one’s target with a highlighted wedge that gets larger as the assassin moves closer to the potential victim. By the time the two are standing next to one another, the entire circle is filled and the predator can strike his prey with one of many custom animations that are dependent upon the chosen character’s default weapon.

Remaining consistent with the Assassin’s Creed philosophy, stealth and silence are very important in AC: Brotherhood‘s multiplayer. Once a predator is in within view of his target, he must practice discretion and resist running, jumping, or doing anything else that would draw attention. Not only does this reveal his identity to other human players through simple observation, but it triggers a red, flashing notification at the bottom of the target’s screen, notifying him that his predator is near. Presumably, any action that would alert the AI in the single-player game will have the same effect in Wanted mode, so walking, blending, or stalking from above would be wise.

Performing silent kills also improves a player’s score. This is not just a matter of who has the best kill-to-death ratio; instead, the type of kill matters, and earns bonus points. A few types of kills I performed in my short demo were the silent assassination, the acrobatic assassination, and the hidden assassination. There are others, as well, and each carries not only a designated point value, but a number of experience points, as well.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Like other recent multiplayer games, AC: Brotherhood will feature an leveling system, capped at level 50, through which players will gain access to new special abilities, maps, modes, and models. Of particular interest are the special abilities, which will be mapped to the controller’s shoulder buttons and aid players as they compete. A few of the ones I was able to use during my E3 demo were the smoke bomb, speed boost, and a very tricky ability that filled the streets with my virtual stunt doubles to confuse my stalkers. Some, like these, are defensive in nature, while others, like the hidden gun, are designed with aggression in mind. Each is useful in its own way, and each has a cooldown time for tactical consideration.

Aside from snazzy new abilities, players can escape their pursuers the traditional way: by breaking the line of sight and then hiding for a period of time. If an assassin loses his mark in this way, his target is reset to another player. For the most talented players, Ubisoft has included a humiliation move as a counter to attempted strikes, which also resets the predator’s target. Any of these escapes net points for the fleeing combatant.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood was one of the most exciting games of the show thanks to a unique and captivating multiplayer experience that many weren’t sure would ever work. On top of this, players can expect 15-plus hours of single-player gameplay without completing any side quests. AC: Brotherhood is set to be another huge experience come November 16th.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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