Unfortunately, only the multiplayer was available for play-test at Eurogamer, although we did get an introduction where a suitably bearded man stared at you for two minutes explaining cryptic, throw-away nonsense. But this is Assassin's Creed, so top gameplay and a terrible story is a given really.
Not having played the Brotherhood mulitplayer, I was pleasantly surprised by the addictively refined gameplay on offer. The game consists of a 4 on 4 game of cat and mouse, with one team as hunters and the other as the hunted. Within this, you then choose a skill-set which best suits your needs. For example, when hunted, I chose a skill-set which included a morph ability, morphing the group of NPCs in which you are hidden into the same character as you (i.e. prostitutes). Then, you can either hide in that group, or, more sneakily, move into another group and try to stun the assassin once he makes his move on the decoys.
What was perhaps most impressive is the finely tuned balance - the fairness - of the game. Often, online games feel outrageously un-fair, so to feel like even as a beginner you have a fighting chance is a refreshing change. The demo was relatively solid, and looked typically stunning, although it glitched out more than once; for one game my hunter was left dry-humping a haystack for 3 minutes as all movement was disabled. Still, this will no-doubt be sorted upon release, so it is a minor quibble.
There is great variety in how to hunt and how to hide. Some players hid in haystacks, in groups, or wandered around pretending to be AI (you spend a lot of time impersonating AI), whereas others simply ran around the rooftops like headless nutters. Ironically, these were the hardest to catch. Equally, when hunting, some hid themselves, waiting for a victim to march past before launching themselves at them, whilst others went for the direct approach, just chasing the mouse and killing left, right and centre, despite the penalties. My personal favoured approach was finding the target, often with a tell-tale group of identical NPCs around them, then launching a smoke bomb to stun all but the real player, at which point you can take them down.
However, there were a lot of confused looks in the booths around me. I took to it quickly, whilst others really struggled, not really understanding what to do. This was not their fault; players were launched straight into the action without a word of advice, and the first few games were unforgiving affairs. Better players are obvious, and are near impossible to find when the hunter; they understand the quirks and give-aways and thus give newbies the run-around. Still, you learn quickly, and before no time you can hide with the best of them. With the full release though a tutorial is not only recommended but nigh on essential.
Scoring is points related, and rewards intelligent play, so hunters get more for not being spotted during a kill, and the hunted earn extra points for staying hidden for as long as possible. There is a lot of depth, and the addictive, rewarding, tense and exciting gameplay is immensely satisfying and kept me coming back to the booth again and again, just wanting to discover that little bit more. Stealth is the name of the game, and one feels more like an Assassin here than at any point in the single player.
Top stuff, and sure to have a cult following upon release.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations will be released on the 15th November 2011 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.