Over the weekend, a dead option offered through my PlayStation 3 copy of Assassin's Creed II went live. "Uplay" now works, the latest attempt by a publisher to tie its games together. If nothing else, it improved my Assassin's experience.
Yves Guillemot, the head of the Ubisoft, described Uplay at an event in New York last week as a "frequent flyer" program for gamers. The effort that resembles Disney's DGamer program an EA's attempts to unify its sports games some years ago.
The Ubisoft service is free to join, and rewards gamers who complete feats in a Ubisoft game with points that can be spent on unlockable content in the same or other Ubisoft games.
I registered for my account over the weekend and, in the course of completing Assassin's Creed II, accomplished the four in-game "actions" that Uplay could recognise. They each involved simple progression through the game's adventure. I also was rewarded for logging onto Uplay from my PS3 and from a PC, for six actions in all. Each earned me Uplay "units".
I could spend my Uplay points through an interface in Assassin's Creed II on some unlocks for the game. But, according to what I found on the Uplay website today, I can also spend those points on unlocks for the upcoming games Splinter Cell Conviction and R.U.S.E. For Assassin's, the unlocks include a PS3 dashboard theme, a new outfit for Ezio Auditore, the game's hero, the ability to hold more throwing knives or, most notably, access to a family crypt.
(I'm running Splinter Cell Uplay pics here instead of Assassin's Creed ones to lessen the spoiling of Assassin's; unlocks for Splinter Cell seem to be the same across the Xbox 360 and PC.)
I've earned 120 Units. I've spent 40 of them, on the Auditore crypt of course.
I got more than I was expecting. Clearly hoping to motivate players to connect, Ubisoft is offering what feels like a key piece of Assassin's Creed content in the form of that crypt. The crypt is actually a "secret location", a classification used for the game's platforming-centric enclosed challenge levels. This one requires some crafty jumping and climbing. More importantly, it provides access to writings about the Auditore family history, which greatly elaborates biographical details hinted at during one cut-scene of the game. Want to know how the Auditore's got to Italy — actually, want to know why, in story terms, you're even playing this adventure in Italy rather than in another country? — then get the Uplay crypt.
I am certain that I did not download the new content for the game. It was unlocked. That may produce complaints that Ubisoft is withholding content, but it is, at least free.
Both the PS3 and PC interfaces of Uplay indicate that the service will also host cheats and community sharing options, including leaderboard comparisons and user screenshot galleries, on a case by case basis.