Assassin's Creed 3: Hands-on with faster paced multiplayer
17th Aug 2012 | 13:21
What complicated matters was that you had a hunter of your own on your back; thus to minimise your chances of being detected the idea was to mimmick the movements of the AI crowd and travel through the city silently, slowly and deliberately.
In the right company, it's legitimately one of the finest and most psychologically pulsating multiplayer games of this generation. Sadly, you are unlikely to find the right company on Xbox Live or PSN. An endless succession of jump-happy, roof-running game-ruining idiots suggests there is still a lot of resistance amongst mainstream gamers to play online at anything less than full pelt.
The map we played was set in a snow-bitten naval camp; it's as flat as a pancake compared to traditional Assassin's Creed landscapes, but it's been intelligently composed to ensure each of the three map points you're fighting for control over have multiple different entry points; from low-lying rooftops to over-hanging branches to craggy back passageways. Sometimes however the best course of action is to just waltz in through the front door.
As long as you behave normally, entering or exiting a control point area is the only way you can be detected, since you're not given any visual indicator on the whereabouts of the other team, and the map is packed to capacity with AI dopplegangers of both teams.They'll know when someone strolls into a control point though, and well-organised teams will place someone on guard duties to watch the flow of traffic going in and out of the area.
Before attempting to capture a point then, it pays to spend a little time sureveying the lay of the land - watching for characters with the other team's skin acting abnormally or breaking out into telltale runs or jumps. Spend too long loitering around the edge of the control point though and you'll quickly be rumbled - it's a common tactic and experienced players will anticipate it.
To make your life easier, there are three inventory slots which you can fill with various special abilities that will either heighten your deception or allow you to make a quick getaway if things go tits-up.
The most potent move in our particular loadout was the disguise ability - this temporarily transformed us into one of the neutral AI characters, making it a cinch to saunter into enemy turf unnoticed. However it only works for a short amount of time - not enough to capture a control point, even - and it has a lengthy cooldown so it's by no means a free ticket to Capturesville.
Our second ability, the smoke bomb, was purely for defence and self-preservation. Anyone familiar with Assassin's Creed multiplayer will know of the awkward moment when you're trying to blend into a crowd and you spot an enemy character moving purposefully towards you your location to stab you in the guts. If you think you've been rumbled, you can simply pre-empt his or her attack by chucking a smoke bomb on the ground, temporarily stunning and blinding everyone around you. In the confusion, you can slip out of the way and plan a second assault.
The third slot is reserved for ranged weapons - in our case a poisoned dart. Once you've clocked an enemy target you can silently drop them in an instant - thinning the field by one instantly, but leaving yourself wide open to be detected by a second pair of enemy eyes.
As best we could tell in the cauldron of hecticness that is Gamescom, the mode is a perfect fit for Assassin's Creed's multiplayer mechanics, and everyone seemed willing to buy into it and play it as Ubisoft intended - the importance of which can't be understated.
It's faster paced and more action-orientated than the classic Assassin's Creed multiplayer (helped no doubt by ACIII's more kinetic assassination system, which allows you to make a kill and then dart for safety in one smooth motion), but it retains the same sense of foreboding and panic that made it so unique in the first place.
That means it should translate well when it's released into the wilds of Xbox Live and PSN. If you're looking for a more thoughtful multiplayer experience this Winter, then on this evidence you could do worse than set sail for the New World.