So, Assassin’s Creed 2: Brotherhood. I’ve played about 3 hours of the single-player, just enough to get through the introductory sequences.
It’s not bad. Lots of stuff to do. I don’t really care at the moment, though. Nothing in the game proper is enough to drag me away from the multiplayer. I think, like everyone else, I expected Brotherhood to be a throwaway cash-in. Even when the game proper proved surprisingly excellent, I figured that the multiplayer component was most likely a horrid little tie-in mostly designed to add a bullet point to the list of Amazing Features the game had.
It is not. In fact, it’s one of the best co-op games I’ve had the pleasure of playing. No, not the team play, which dissapointingly (though understandably) is limited to voice-chat with a friend who also has a console. The simplest game mode, in which 8 players pick a body type, and then are transported to a city bustling with exact dopplegangers of themselves and the other players. Upon warping in, they’re given a contract to kill one of the other players. As the only identification you have is what body they’ve chosen, you need to pick the right creepy Renessaince Bird Doctor from the crowd he’s hiding in, then stab him like crazy. It’s a great time!
But what makes it spectacular is the interaction it provides for your friends. See, only one person can control your assassin at any given time. But anyone in the room can shout “IT’S THE ONE ON THE RIGHT I SAW HIM TWICTCH QUICK STAB STAB STAB”. And urge you to just be cool be cool that guy is totally going to try to kill you just walk in to that crown now STUN HIM hell yes! I had the fortune to see a ridiculously Hollywood moment when a friend of mine ran from his pursuer, hid behind a market stall, disguised, walked calmly out and began browsing the market. While his pursuer spun in place trying to figure out where his quarray had gone, my friend tapped him on the shoulder and smacked him in the face.
The underlying set of mechanics is solid, forcing you to balance between the free-ranging parkour of the single-player experience and the necessity to remain hidden in crowds in order to not tip off either your quarry or your pursuer. The progression system, a reasonably standard but nicely distributed set of rewards for getting XP from kills, is quite well thought out if a bit standard. A good icing on a game I’d play habitually anyway, not unlike the first Modern Warfare.
This is a multiplayer experience I haven’t had in years. The co-operative spectator game. It’s fun to play, and engages the audience simply by providing them an opportunity to help you out. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind some actual built-in spectator assist features, maybe some kind of extra camera angle view in splitscreen, or a target painter or something. As it is, I forsee hours more of controller-trading fun with this game long before I ever bother checking out single-player again. I haven’t even attempted the co-operative online experience, having been too engaged with having my friends over and competing for the most awesome kill. Be sure to check it out if you’re one of the millions who bought the game! And try Advanced Wanted when it unlocks, I’m tired of crazy lobby wait times.