No, really: Be quiet. I’m trying to concentrate. Yeah, you can watch — just keep very still. I think he’s following me. The tall one in green. See him?
Watch: If I go left here, he follows me around the corner. It’s him. He’s after me.
Right, stay calm. Think. If we can lose him, we can–
Oh. He’s gone.
Don’t breathe a sigh of relief, because you're playing Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's multiplayer. You might find he’s flanked you, stabbing you quicker than you can think. You might have in fact got the wrong man entirely — you should have been watching the Courtesan, the one coming towards you right now. It does things to your head, this game.
People say that the multiplayer modes in Halo and Call of Duty are about skill. They may be right, but it is nonetheless skill modified by explosions, luck, or speed. The multiplayer element of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is sheer cunning distilled into 10 minutes of fear.
Fear because, as you’ll soon find out, there is no health bar. There is no health bar because all you need to do to kill someone — and likewise, be killed — is target them and gently press a button. That’s it. They’re dead…or you are.
The principle is very simple. I am assigned a target, and a blue compass arrow guides me towards them. I have to find them, target them, and press a button to kill them. Easy? Not at all.
Because, of course, someone else has targeted me. Sometimes, if I’m playing well, more than one person is after me, just as more than one person is after my target. It becomes a race to get to your unlucky victim before you’re either killed or someone else gets to him first.
Nothing can replicate this feeling. When matches begin, panic quickly subsides into quiet watchfulness: You have literally no clue as to where your target is unless they make a mistake and begin to run inside your line of sight. Matches vibrate between high-speed chases and quiet battles of wits.
He’s after me. He’s seen me.
Okay, stay calm. Walk behind that tent and activate your disguise.
The air shimmers, that characteristic Animus effect, and suddenly you are no longer a tall, bald priest, but a suave, green waistcoated barber.
Walk the other way. Walk back towards him.
And, sauntering gently past your pursuer as your disguise timer begins to beep and your palms to sweat, you escape — only to be dropped on suddenly by the Hellequin who had been watching the proceedings unfold with interest from her perch.
While playing, you will discover your preferred style. Some people prefer to play enthusiastically, charging across rooftops and firing hidden guns at every opportunity. Others take a vantage point and watch and wait.
As for me? What shall I say: If, when walking through the streets of Venice, you see a Plague Doctor clad in a deep green robe and a white mask standing up quietly from a bench and picking up your trail….
You’re looking at the wrong man.
I’m behind you.