E3′s Biggest Surprises: The Sitting Assassin

It wasn't an E3 full of shocking twists and revelations. Much of what was shown we already knew about. But there were some surprises to be had. Over the next week or so I'll be running down the E3 news, games and products that raised my eyebrow the highest.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood I hadn't expected much from Ubisoft Montreal's swiftly turned around follow-up to my 2nd favourite game of 2009. I figured it'd be more of the same. A good game, then, but not one to get a cynical reporter's blood flowing.

But then I saw what they've done with the single-player: that Ezio now leads a team of assassins, that they are persistent from mission to mission, and that you can upgrade their abilities throughout the game, equipping them with different weapons. Best of all though, that simple town management of your home villa in Assassin's Creed II now not only extends to the entire city of Rome, but carries (allegedly, since they are yet to be detailed) meaningful gameplay choices beyond merely filling your coffers with more cash.

And then I played the multiplayer. It took a few minutes to work out what was happening, but once it clicked... wow. In brief: each player is assigned another as an assassination target, so you've always got someone hunting you down as you track your target. The tension is incredible as you're walking through the streets, watching your back while keeping an eye out for the telltale signs that betray a human player's movements. I've never before played a competitive multiplayer game where I simply walked around for almost the entire time. In one round, I even sat down on a bench, totally blended, and waited for my prey to walk past... then knifed him in the back.

With Brotherhood, Ubisoft shows that sequels - even seemingly rushed sequels - don't have to sacrifice inventive new ideas.


Comments

    This is sounding better and better, the more info morsels come to light.

    I love the fact that instead of developers writing superior AI to mimic the actions of a human opponent. A game has forced players to assume the behavior of AI controlled counterparts in order to blend in against other human opponents.

    Brillant!

      The AI civilians all walk around, stopping to talk or shop or sit down, just like they do in ACII. You'd see players, however, running around, climbing up walls, making erratic turns, etc, and they'd be so easy to spot. Most of the time it's not important because you're only looking out for two players - your target and the guy tracking you down.

      Once we all got used to it, though, we were all trying to remain inconspicuous... at least most of the time. I do wonder if Ubisoft will give the civilians slightly more erratic behaviour. That would really make it interesting.

        Are you able to pin point your targets using Eagle Vision, allowing you to scan for your red silhouetted target?

          No. At the start of the round, you're told what your target looks like. You also have a radar that points you roughly in their direction and also indicates how far away they are. Once you're right near them, you have to work out who they are and take them down. Sometimes it's obvious; sometimes they see you and run, which leads to a typical Assassin's free-running chase; sometimes they've blended or used a disguise and you end up killing a civilian by accident.

            Let me see if I understand. The guy trying to kill you and the guy you are trying to kill are two different people right? So the radar will only show the guy you are trying to kill? Or the guy trying to kill you as well?

            I’m really intrigued by this idea. It sounds to me like it would turn into a great game of cat and mouse where you could swear your target was just here 30 seconds earlier.

              Yes, each player is assigned a target, so you're always tracking someone and another player is always tracking you. Your radar only tracks your target, so you have to be alert for someone else tailing you...

                Furthermore, the longer you stay alive the more people will be assigned to kill you. You become a bigger 'hit' the better you do. So in say, a 5 player match you might have all 4 of the other assassin's competing for your life.

    I actually played the ACII but got caught up in tutorials and really didnt get into the game. The MP aspects you talk about make it sould awesome.

    I really... really hate the current trend of multiplayer of deathmatch, constant spawn and respawn and this endless mindless cycle of death and rebirth (only to die again). I have never played MW2 for this exact reason. I know there is more to it but this is what they end up becoming. I also look at RDR. I love the MP aspects, but enjoy them MUCH more in a private game rather than a public one. You spawn and then are shot. Sure you can shoot others but it just gets boring/frustrating when i actually want to play a 'game'.

    Really looking forward to the MP of this game..thanks.

    I was avoiding this... but that multiplayer sounds the business.

    I usually avoid multiplayer because I'm antisocial, but this sounds like something even I'd try.

    This sounds great, I love the concept. BTW, there have been a hell of a lot of typos in Kotaku the past two weeks, is everyone just tired after E3, or is your proofreader on hiatus?

    That multiplayer sounds awesome!
    I can see myself spending ages wandering the streets killing random civs in the hopes that I get the right person ... eventually

    So there are three things you can do:
    1. kill your target quickly;
    2. avoid getting killed by the person hunting you and;
    3. hope that the person hunting the person that is hunting you kills their target before the person hunting you kills you.
    Sounds pretty tense

    I just have one thing to clear up. Is this AC3? Or something in between...more like what they did with Gothic 3: Forsaken Gods?

    So basically this multiplayer is the mainstream equivalent of The Ship, Mitadake High, and that one sniper game that got mentioned on here a few months back.
    These sorts of things are always interesting, but I hope like the Goose said they give the AI more erratic behavior, to lead you into thinking an AI could be a player, rather than always needing to think of which AI doesn't fit.

    I am also extremely excited about the plague doctor assassin I saw in the trailer. Plague doctors are awesome and do not feature in nearly enough fiction.

    The whole round-robin assassination mode is in the iPhone multiplayer game too (I think it may be a prototype for the full game). It works quite well =)

    I'll wait until the review come. But it seems to me, that is a rushed sequel, and I hope I don't have to pay a full price for something that seems like shorter than a proper game.

    For reference, from AC 1 to AC 2, it took 2 years to make. If they were able to make this in shorter time, it means shorter game.

    Here's hoping I can get it for $40 or lower

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