Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.
The Assassin’s Creed series has abandoned its mutliplayer modes and that makes me sad. The multiplayer, introduced in Brotherhood, was one of the most playground-like games you could find. It’s basically the game of Assassin, popular among university students, but played on cool-looking streets from the past. You’re hunting somebody, but somebody else is hunting you. And – oh no – you’re all disguised as computer-controlled characters. You need to find a Jester among dozens of Jesters, while also hiding your own Courtesan among dozens of Courtesans.
It was a great idea and lots of fun, but admittedly it only half worked. Ubisoft insisted on adding power-ups and special abilities, which you could use to either reveal other players among the throng, or blind them, or stun them. The hide and seek was the best part, but it was marred by these smoke bombs and x-ray vision, all of which only seemed to be there to fuel a progression system designed to keep people playing - not for the thrill of the chase when somebody broke cover, but for the XP they’d get. At a certain level of play, everyone just ran everywhere and barely bothered to conceal themselves at all. The beauty of the idea was lost.
It would be difficult to teach Ubisoft, a company that has released 18 Assassin’s Creed games in one decade, that “less is more”, but if they had just removed some abilities and let people enjoy hide and seek, maybe we’d still be hunting each other through the crowds of an Egyptian marketplace today.