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Voice of the Last Fenix

Hunting while being Huntered

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- How the new Assassin's Creed wants to change multiplay-

When I first heard that the latest installment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, will feature multiplayer I dismissed it as yet another after thought feature, something the developers tacked on to broaden the games appeal. I did not expect it to push any envelopes or change my level of anticipation for the game, which until recently dwindled on the “wait for bargain bin”.

A couple of days ago during the course of a Thread Killer conversation a fellow formmite mentioned how excited he was about the Multiplayer in AC3. For some reason I was unable to fathom how multiplayer would work inside the parameters of an Assassin’s Creed game, weak attempts at Deathmatch style modes came to mind none of which I imagined working particularly well or becoming at all popular. However being someone who prides himself in at least checking the facts before condemning a new idea to obscurity I went and did some, brief, research.

Doing what most people do when they need info on something I googled AC:BH and opened the Wikipedia entry for it. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassi...d:_Brotherhood) Skipping though all the boring stuff I read through the multiplayer and was almost immediately deeply intrigued. I then watched a Youtube vid of one of the developers playing Multiplayer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_umJ8WfCWdg) and was sold.

At this point in time online gaming is saturated by FPS competative multiplayer (Halo, Call Of Duty, Medal of Honor, BattleField: Bad Company 2), Co-op multiplayer (Halo, Borderlands, Left 4 Dead 1&2), RTS Multiplayer (Warcraft III, Starcraft II, Ruse, DoTa) and finaly MMO multiplayer. (WoW, Guildwars, Aion, Eve)
Each of those multiplayer types are almost unique to that specific genre, yes you have Gears of War which brings regular FPS style Multiplayer to 3rd person shooters, but other than Horde Mode there is nothing unique about its multiplayer. While other 3rd person action games tried implementing multiplayer all of it fizzeled out into obscurity, Red Faction Gaurilla and Uncharted 2 jump to mind.
What Ubisoft has done is create a new form of multiplayer. In Wanted mode, for example, up to 8 player are spawned in a map each given a single target to assassinate, while simultaneously being hunted by another player. This effectively means that instead of the match descending into chaos as 4 players run around the map killing left right and center while the other 4 find a nice spot to camp and get the drop on the the four running around, players will now have to balance stealth with action. Killing the wrong person looses you points, while dodgy behaviour is bound to alert your pursuer of your presence.
Now 8 unique characters moving about a map, inbetween NPCs, will making finding your target dead easy to spot as they will be standing out like hooker at Sunday mass. Ubisoft uses one of the shortcomings of current gaming technology, multiple of the same character models. Now this previous shortcoming becomes key to the gameplay. Is the courtesan your following a player or a NPC? Is that Priest walking your direction about to slit your throat or merely stroll past.

Further more Ubisoft decide it doesn’t have to reinvent to wheel completely and implemented something many Call of Duty players will recognise: abilities, perks, and streaks. Abilities are re-usable tools like smoke bombs, disguise (which turns the player into a npc look alike), speed boost ect. Perks are passive ability modifiers such as blender which automatically morphs one of the NPCs into a clone of your character when you blend with a group, making it harder for your follower to kill you. Streaks will reward you for multiple kills without dying or grant temporary skills if you die too often in a row.

(There is a decent Multiplayer Beta Hand-On piece on Gamespot that is well worth a read as well as on IGN)

Although it all sounds promising there are several aspects which could potentially silence Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.
Matchmaking and LAG: If you want to stay ontop with multplayer you need decent matchmaking, especially on consoles. Although I won’t expect anything as finely tunes as Halo Reach’s matchmaking system Ubisoft will have to ensure that finding and joining a game is quick and easy. Similarly being able to play with a specific player or group of players is also important, running around assassinating strangers is all well and good but getting the drop on a friend and being able to taunt them is even better.
Lag might actually be less of a problem for AC:BH than for Halo or Call of Duty, but if it becomes too bad it will destroy gameplay.
The last thing that AC has going against it is release date... its being released just over a week after Call of Duty BlackOps that is bound to attract alot of attention, especially multiplayer wise. Of course this maybe be a blessing in disguise as players wont have to worry about cod or halo idiots ruining their games.

Given the release window and the known facts its hard to say whether or not Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood will sink or swim. It is looking promising and if nothing else will bring a welcome change of pace from the endless shooting (and getting shot) of Halo or Call of Duty.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is being released locally on the 19th of November 2010.

-Fenix Out-
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Comments

  1. Duke Dude's Avatar
    Sweet blog mate.
    I really like your analysis of it. I'm also glad that it gets released after Black Ops so we don't have idiots running all over the place making your job easier yet harder as well.

    Otherwise good blog!
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