Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood Impressions

By Phill Cameron on October 7th, 2010 at 12:50 pm.

Putting the sass in assassination.

Brotherhood’s multiplayer is smart. The singleplayer might have you driving tanks and sinking ships, but the multiplayer remembers that you’re all meant to be assassins and has a ton of fun with that. There’s some expositional stuff about how you’re all Templar agents training in the animus, but what it boils down to is that you choose from one of eight different Renaissance characters and then spend the next ten minutes desperately trying to murder one another. But this isn’t some plain old deathmatch, or even some exciting new deathmatch with the Assassin’s Creed engine. You see, you guys are professionals. There are rules.

The first of these is that as soon as you hop into the game, you’re given a target. Apart from innocent civilians, that’s the only person you can assassinate, and they’re tracked by a circular radar at the bottom of the screen. It’ll tell you the general direction they’re in, as well as how far, and their elevation, but it’s nowhere near pinpoint accurate. It’ll put you in the vicinity of your target, and let you do the rest of the work.

Of course, they’ll have their own target to worry about, which is awfully convenient for you, as it means they’re less likely to be on the look out for man with pointy object #5. But, at the same time, if you come at them like a deranged lunatic with a penchant for speed and recklessness, the game is going to go and tap them on the shoulder, point in your direction and go ‘Look mate, that guy’s a nutter, and he’s trying to kill you. I suggest you bugger off out of here before you’ve got one too many orifices.’ So you exercise restraint, approach your target with caution and discretion, and end them in any number of character-specific death animations.

That’s all fine and dandy, and by making every single civilian in the game one of the seven characters you can pick from, it’s far from easy to spot your pursuer, or the guy you’re trying to kill. Where it starts getting really smart, however, is in how it assigns the targets.

You’ll always have someone to kill. That’s never an issue. But what you might not realise at first is that you’re not the only guy after a target. The better someone’s doing, the more people the game assigns to kill them. The player in first might have two or three people after him at once, whereas the person at the bottom of the list will be unpursued, allowing them to fumble and bumble their assassinations in peace. With three guys breathing down your neck, it does things to how well you can operate, and you’re far more likely to clumsy your way through an assassination, and botch things at best.

Not only this, but you get different amounts of points depending on how you perform your assassination. Get them without running up or pouncing from the air and you’ll get a ‘discreet’ bonus. Perhaps even ‘silent’ depending on how you handle things. You’re rewarded for efficiency and discretion, rather than recklessness and blood lust. It works, allowing even someone at the bottom of the scoreboard to rocket themselves up if they get a particularly well done kill. It’s quality over quantity, every time, meaning that the guy at the top of the scoreboard usually isn’t the guy who’s been running around and slaughtering people left and right.

So the game balances itself, while providing an unfrustrating game for the newcomers, and presenting a challenge for the more experienced players. On top of that, you’ve got a system of perks and skills, one defensive, one aggressive. Some of these entirely make sense in the game world, like throwing knives, smoke bombs or the wrist mounted gun, but there’s also morph, which turns all nearby NPCs into an exact replica of your character, and disguise, which switches your player model to another, picking from random. They’re on a pretty hefty cool down, so their use is reserved for getting you out of the tightest of spots, but they work. Everyone’s got two, and how you use them can either make an assassination easy as hell, or escaping a thrilling experience.

And that’s what Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s Multiplayer does. It’s risk reward in the finest sense of the term. You’re only ever one button press from death, but evading pursuers or nailing a kill without the guy ever having suspected to you are pretty great rewards. It’s all about trying to split the two hemispheres of your brain and having one focus on watching your back, and the other on watching the back that you’re planning to perforate. It’s tricky. Oh, it’s absolutely a taxing experience. But ultimately it’s also a very, very good time.

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83 Comments »

  1. Rich says:

    That actually sounds pretty clever. Colour me surprised.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      It sounds like a pretty smart way, to make an auto-balancer. Which, as you all will know, is the holy grail of game mechanics. So no surprise it’s fun. It’s almost by definition so.
      My head is off to whoever came up with this.

      P.S.: What the… my CAPTCHA is “SLUT”. I swear.

  2. MD says:

    Wasn’t even slightly interested in this, but you’ve sold it well. I’d love to try out a demo, but I guess that’s wishful thinking.

  3. yves torres says:

    I love the sound of this and I always wished a multiplayer game like this gets made. Sure, there are other games with similar concepts, but not quite like this. What I’m not so convinced about is whether it’ll have a lasting appeal, but it does sound like good fun.

    Question: is it possible to kill your pursuer even if that player isn’t your assigned target? Let’s say I’m being chased by the player who has to bag my character and I manage to get far away for me to, for example, hide behind the next corner, can I then surprise assassinate the pursuer as he comes running around said corner? Or can I only assassinate my assigned target? It would be pretty damn rad if this was possible.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Basically, yes. Though you can’t kill them. It’s actually more awesome than that.

      There’s a “humiliation” move that Phill and I weren’t able to work out the specifics of. Basically, if you’ve worked out who your pursuer is and you’re a daring maverick, you can double-back while they’re chasing you and floor them with a single punch. They then lose you as their target and the game assigns them a new one.

    • mlaskus says:

      Brilliant

    • yves torres says:

      Thanks for clearing that up and good enough for me and pretty clever too! I’d prefer to shank them though, but hey, that’s just me ;)

      If something like this wasn’t possible it would be pretty bad, I believe this adds a lot to the game. I’m so looking forward to this, I just really dig Assassin’s Creed and can’t wait to find out where they’re going with the story. The problem I see is that they could really mess this up depending on the route they decide to take with it, on the other hand it could be really epic.

      Although it’s quite subtle I love games that are “somewhat” based in reality and concern themselves with history and contemporary themes, even if a lot of it is based around bogus conspiracy theories. My fancy has been tickled :D

    • Lilliput King says:

      Don’t get too excited by the humiliate move, you’ll almost never use it. If someone is looking to kill you and you aren’t appropriately hidden, they have the advantage, as they’re one dagger and about two seconds away from killing you, and there’s far too many angles to watch.

      That’s not a problem, though, because this mode actually delivers on the promise of hiding in plain sight. It genuinely makes it work. I was usually in first when I played on Friday at the expo (possibly because I played it far too much that day), and usually being hunted by three people (you can check how many are after you in the top left corner). It was thrilling to be able to cast paranoid eyes around the marketplace from within my herd of courtesans (morph is amazing. A-MAZING), knowing my aggressors could be any one of the nobles or barbers walking so innocently past. When you do things right, you don’t even have to shiv that many people. I usually ended each round with only a couple of kills but in first or second place, because nobody knew who I was.

      In short – marvellous.

    • Adrian says:

      There allready has been a game like this… The Ship. The concept failed tho…

    • Orvidos says:

      @Adrian

      The Ship failed, as awesome as it was, because it never gained a significant player base, and had some fundamental problems. From what Phill describes, AC:B solves many of the inherent problems with the ship.

      The players being the only people on it, for instance.

    • dartt says:

      To successfully achieve a bitchslap, you have to lock on to the assassin and then press the ‘hand’ button that isn’t assassinate, on an X360 controller (which is what I played with at EG) that is the B button. The key is locking on, you can’t just mash B when you think someone is close to you. I found it best to try by standing on a rooftop and waiting for your adversary to attempt to climb up to meet you, in the cases where they didn’t notice my ambush, I was given plenty of time to lock on and prepare myself.

      Despite the risks, it’s often worth attempting; Not only is it very funny to club your pursuer to his knees but you also get quite a big point bonus for pulling it off; In one game I developed a strong lead by decking people three or four times.

      I think it might be possible to kill the person chasing you but it probably nets you no points and resets your target just as killing a civilian would.

    • wererogue says:

      I <3 the ship – I wish there were more people playing it… :(

  4. fuggles says:

    Is that a murder attempt or a piggyback race in the banner shot? Would be one way to make a quick getaway, pre-automobiles. YAH!

  5. wm says:

    It’s Ubisoft, so I don’t care.

  6. Dawngreeter says:

    I’d totally buy that if they don’t fuck it up with their insane DRM

    • BAReFOOt says:

      PROTIP: That’s what The Pirate Bay is for. And I mean that.

    • Stromko says:

      It sounds fascinating and if I end up playing it at all it will probably be after I purchase it, but it depends on the DRM not turning it into a coaster. I already had all the ‘fun’ of not being able to play the games I purchased when Steam got overloaded on Tuesday, it’s not something I’m going to willingly walk into.

    • mlaskus says:

      Poor DRM does not excuse piracy. If you really hate the DRM, don’t buy the game.

    • mlaskus says:

      Ehm, “don’t play the game”.

  7. Uggies says:

    Sounds like The Ship.
    http://store.steampowered.com/app/2400/
    Same idea except your on a cruise and you have to find your weapons aswell as manage your health*Sleep, Bathroom, Cleanliness* and make sure you eat and drink. There are cameras and cops around so you have to plan your kills and the bottom of the screen tells you their name and their last known location and you have to find them and bring them down without being caught and it is played in rounds. So in one round you kill your target and have to stay alive till then while making sure your assassin does not find you.

    Fantastic game for those out there looking to get an idea of what Brotherhood plays like. 20 bucks on Steam may be too much imho but i bought this AGES AGES AGES ago when it was first put up on steam. Not too many players online though but you can play with bots :D

    • bansama says:

      That’s not all that surprising when you consider that Ubisoft are publishing’s Outerlight’s new game Bloody Good Time….

  8. Varcynal says:

    Reminds me of that Oxford game ‘Killer’, only awesome and with the rules enforceable. I wonder how popular multiplayer will be on PC as opposed to console.

  9. SpinalJack says:

    Saw it at expo, it was good

  10. skinlo says:

    Sounds awesome.

    I actually really liked Assassins Creed 1, and really enjoyed 2, although I had to obtain it as a protest against the DRM. If they dropped that DRM, I would probably instantly buy it!

  11. Lajcik says:

    I have to say this sounds fantastic, if it actually works i might start playing more multiplayer.

  12. Demon Beaver says:

    I played it at PAX and had a great time. One of those cases where I’m really split, as without the usual Ubi DRM I’d get this on day 1. I have not heard any official word saying it will have that DRM, but it’s very likely, as AC2 had it…

  13. the affront says:

    Sounds like it would be a total riot on a small 1-room LAN. Actually almost sounds TOO perfect for that occasion. There surely must be a catch – this simply cannot be that awesome. There are rules (although this is not bowling).

    • UsF says:

      Maybe they fix that by not adding a LAN option. :)

    • Fumarole says:

      So his toe slipped over a little, it’s just a game.

      This does indeed sound like a most excellent LAN game. Sadly, if it has the UDRM I won’t be getting it.

    • dartt says:

      Mark it 8, Dude.

    • rocketman71 says:

      Even if doesn’t come with UbiShitDRM, which I doubt, Ubi games lately seem to come without LAN support.

      Sadly it’s why I didn’t buy RUSE (LAN is compatible with Steam, you know), and why I’ll have to keep not buying ubi games, apart from the DRM. Their loss.

  14. Feet says:

    It DOES sound like The Ship. Only, y’know, radder.

  15. tomeoftom says:

    This is so much more intelligent than anything I would’ve expected. Looks absolutely fantastic.

    I am crossing not just my fingers, but every symmetrical doublet in my entire skeletal stucture in the hope that this doesn’t come with Idiotic Idea From Large Publisher #674338: UbiDRM

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I have to concur. This does sound rather splendid. And it would be a real shame if it did come with that DRM.

  16. Navagon says:

    It does sound pretty good actually. But there are few games I’d get for the multiplayer alone. If it’s free of UbiDRM then that’s something, but I haven’t heard either way on that count yet.

    The single player looks pretty bad though. I don’t like it when designers feel the need to make things glow like it’s no stranger to isotopes just to draw your attention to them. If they need to do that then they simply haven’t designed the level well enough. There are always better ways of drawing your attention.

    And the way that enemies attack one by one, even when they have you surrounded – not good. Either it should be more like Thief in that you’re no match for multiple adversaries and your only option is to be discrete. Or if they have to throw the theme out of the window and have you hacking apart multiple assailants like a super soldier they could at least make it possible to attack multiple enemies at once, and them attack you.

    All in all it seems very poorly designed. Especially by comparison.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Completely agree about the combat system, it’s one of my biggest problems with the games. It’s just awful the way Ezio is so acrobatic in every other part of the game but as soon as he gets in a fight his feet are glued to floor. It would improve the whole thing so much if they just ripped of Arkham Asylum and put in a similar type of combat. Something that takes a certain amount of skill but acknowledges that the character is someone who would kill a stupid guard in seconds.

      Not sure what you mean by glowing objects, though. It’s just a way of making sure you know which target you have selected. Much like Thief would highlight a door or a key. The game would be pretty frustrating if you couldn’t tell what you’re aiming at.

    • Jhoosier says:

      This sounds ace. I’d buy it even with permanent connection DRM if it were as cool as it sounds. The problem is, yeah, buying a game for the multiplayer hasn’t worked out so well for me in the past. Nobody in my timezone to play with :(

    • Navagon says:

      @ DiamondDog,

      Funny, because I never had a problem finding levers, doors, etc before developers decided to give them the kind of glow that makes Nuka Cola Quantum look safe to drink.

      There are more subtle ways than the ones employed there. They shouldn’t need to make the whole damn thing glow like that (thinking of the entire prison gate here). It shouldn’t have needed to glow that much, either in terms of brightness or how much of it was illuminated.

      Even that is a poor man’s crutch for bad design. Levels should be designed in such a way that it’s not so difficult to see what you’re supposed to be doing.

      But I guess this game is a console port, so we inevitably get a game that’s developed with 8 year olds in mind. I just wish you could turn it off.

  17. ynamite says:

    Concerning DRM, this is why I’ll buy this on console, makes for much better playing on a couch imo. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the PC, but because it gets released on consoles earlier and because it just feels like a console game to me, I think that would be the better choice.

    • TXinTXe says:

      That’s very rescptectable. But exactly that kind of thinking (and not piracy) is what is “killing” pc gaming.

    • TXinTXe says:

      It is rescptectable and it is also even respectable. Sorry for that.

  18. id says:

    Yeah, if Ubisoft ever patches out the ridiculous DRM on AC2, I would buy it instantly. Well, sort of instantly. I mean, I’d wait for it to go on sale on Steam or something, but the point is that I want to give them money for the game, but just can’t justify doing it until they abandon the whole “you must always be online to play your single-player game, and fuck you if your internet connection is flaky” thing.

    I had fun with the first game, but I can wait to play the second one until they stop being fuckwits. Or they can continue down the path of fuckwittery, and leave my money on the table. Their call, I guess.

    • adonf says:

      @id: Why is Steam’s DRM better than Ubi Soft’s ? (Maybe this needs to be said clearly: I’m not being an ass, it’s a genuine question)

    • UsF says:

      Steam adds value. Infinite redownload on any computer you like. Community platform, achievements (not my thing)…

    • Durkonkell says:

      Offline mode.

      (Yeah, it doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it mostly does its job. It is better than Ubisoft’s offline mode (hint: Ubisoft’s DRM does not have an offline mode)).

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      @adonf: Ubisoft’s DRM is turning every game into an MMO. Parts of the game run on their servers, just to be “safe”. Steam is a simple one-time online authentication check added onto the game.

    • adonf says:

      Ok, thanks for the replies.

      What are the chances of Ubi dropping their DRM after a while ? It doesn’t say anything on Steam about a third-party DRM for AC1 but it says “requires a permanent Internet connection” for AC2. I don’t know if AC1 ever had that DRM thinggie or not.

    • mwoody says:

      AC1 didn’t have it, as it was released shortly before AC2. I’d say that Ubisoft would back down on that DRM any minute now, but then, I’ve been saying that for a year.

      And in case the previous replies haven’t made the difference clear: for Steam, you must be online to START the game (there’s an offline mode, but it doesn’t work in most situations). For Ubisoft, you must be online at all times to PLAY the game.

    • ErikM says:

      Wasn’t AC1 leaked or something? Leading to massive downloads and revenue loss? Not intentionally trying to play devil’s advocate. But this game seems to bring a lot to the multiplayer aspect of the game, so I can’t say that I would mind the DRM.

  19. Berm says:

    Due to the horrible, idiotic DRM a game I probably would have bought day one won’t be bought until they drop the DRM.

    • sneetch says:

      I’m currently up to 7 Ubisoft games (including this) I haven’t bought because of their DRM (I could buy them on console but choose not to: I want the PC version).

      Settlers 7 is the one I miss the most and probably the only one I’ll go back and get if and when they drop the DRM, the rest I just consider money saved at this stage.

    • Torgen says:

      I’m with sneetch.

  20. adonf says:

    How does the PC version compare to the console versions ? That’s typically the kind of games I’d play on Xbox, not just because of the controls but mostly because I’ve been burnt by too many crappy PC ports of AAA titles from big publishers. These days I only play independent games on the PC or games of which I know that the PC was the main development platform. This usually excludes action games
    (By the way, someone asked me in another thread why I was disappointed by the fact that DNF will be a PC and console game… Well that’s the reason why: to me console-centric game = bad PC version with insanely high minimum specs).

    I realized as I was typing this that the article is about Assassin’s Creed 3 and not a late port of Assassin’s Creed 2. But my question is about the whole series more than this specific game, so I’d like to know what people who played the games think of the PC version.

    • mrmud says:

      The PC port of AC2 isnt perfect but its also not very bad.
      The interface is much improved in that unlike AC1 you dont have to go through 10 menus to actually quit the game.

      The only problem I have had is that there is no native xbox360 controller support and in order to get it working I had to download some 3rd party stuff from a forum.

    • ynamite says:

      I’ve only ever played the PC version of AC1, after having played through it on the Xbox and though the graphics were obviously better on PC I found the console version a lot more enjoyable, mainly because of the controls. As said previously, this to me is just a game to be played while sitting on a couch. On the other hand, I noticed a few framerate issues in AC2 on the PS3, but nothing too bothersome. Also, the missing support for an Xbox controller on the PC is an instant deal breaker, can’t imagine playing this with a mouse and keyboard setup.

  21. Quasar says:

    I’m finding myself more and more interested in this.

  22. Bobble_Hat says:

    It’s a shame they won’t be getting my money as it sounds pretty excellent. Same as AC II did. Plenty more fish, (or games) in the sea I suppose.

  23. omicron says:

    So here is something I hope it has/adds:

    Unusual weapons. ACII already has tons of these; the multiplayer should scatter them around the arena and give us a chance to use them in creative ways for extra points (for unique items) but less stealth. This idea is borrowed wholecloth from The Ship, and might make it easier.

  24. Michael says:

    If there’s still a decent population on the multiplayer servers when the price has come down, I might pick up the console version of this. Having played AC2, I think I’ve had all I want from the single player, unless they’ve dramatically improved the combat and stealth aspects of the game.

    And if Danny Wallace is still in it, I might have to pass altogether.

  25. The Juice says:

    Not interested. I want to know the end of the AC story and that is all.

  26. Heliocentric says:

    Sounds great, looks like its an essential game. So its simply a matter of what the Dirty Repulsive Manslaughter is like.

  27. Sigma Draconis says:

    Sounds fantastic. I was hoping something clever/interesting would be done with the multiplayer, and these impressions do not disappoint. Though I really should catch up with the rest of the Assassin’s Creed series before this gets released.

  28. Corbeau says:

    Brotherhood was my top pick of all the games at PAX. The multiplayer really does look that good (though, being on-shift, I couldn’t actually play it mysefl – sadface). Really hope that DRM doesn’t screw it over, though at least for a multiplayer game (and, seriously, I don’t give a whit about the singleplayer) the Ubisoft insanity wouldn’t be as obtrusive.

  29. DrazharLn says:

    To add my voice to what I feel is almost a consensus:

    If they use UbiDRM, then I won’t buy this game. If not, then I may well do, it looks like a lot of fun.

  30. Koozer says:

    Why oh why couldn’t IO Interactive have got here first with Hitman…

  31. Serenegoose says:

    I won’t be buying this game because it uses Ubi DRM – I’m only interested in the multiplayer, but the principle is that I simply won’t endorse that DRM with my money even if it’s on a multiplayer game, as it gives them the idea that I find it less reprehensible than I do.

  32. KenTWOu says:

    AC Brotherhood has multiplayer, so Ubisoft definitely will release it with UbiDRM on PC. Sadly. But I don’t care cause I nave Splinter Cell: Conviction and I still play its multiplayer from time to time, so such DRM isn’t an issue for me if the game has fun online modes.

  33. Matjaž says:

    What is with all the rage and outcry against DRM? I understood it for single player but here you’re playing MULTIPLAYER. You HAVE TO BE ONLINE to play against other HOOMANZ.

    Sheesh.

    • rocketman71 says:

      No, you don’t.

      Sheesh.

    • TXinTXe says:

      And even if you do. It’s not just you the one that has to be online. Ubi’s servers have to be online also.

  34. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    1) It’s a matter of principle. We know Ubisoft doesn’t hesitate to put their rather draconic DRM on games regardless. That’s not a pleasant thing for gamers, and not something we’d like to see more of.

    2) It has a single player portion. Besides, if it were only online would they need to enforce the ‘you have to be online to play this game’? You’d just have to be to play the game in the first place like, say, with MMOs.

  35. Araxiel says:

    Gentlemen, You left blood on my suit. I never really was on your side.

  36. Senatheizannai says:

    I like this, dearly.

  37. Graeme Strachan says:

    Reminds me of Thievery UT. God I miss that.