bill-swift - July 18, 2012
When you go hunting for assassination victims in Assassin's Creed III's cooperative multiplayer mode, called Wolfpack, you will certainly get that feeling like you're part of large horde of bloodthirsty canines. The concept is simple but with sophisticated execution: you and your teammates have to find and kill targets while all of you operate in teeming crowds of oblivious town folk. Rest assured, enemies will be killed and killed often, but it's how you do it and the style with which you approach the task that get you points and make the whole thing look really cool.
The fact that you're essentially using all of your assassin skills to move through crowds, over obstacles and buildings as usual makes it easy to get into. You each get a target to take down, so you each have something to focus on. This becomes important later on when your targets go from sticking close to one another to splitting up so they can avoid the pain you're about to rain down on them.
Using a kind of radar, you and your teammates have to find your respective targets and drop them to add another sequence --essentially more time-- to your Wolfpack run. This is a very old school video game concept where the better you do, the more you get to do it but the challenge gets tougher as you go to later sequences.
Approaching a target and keeping him in focus while your attack meter fills up requires patience and skill on the left analog stick as you have to keep up with a target that's meandering through the streets of Colonial Boston just like you. When that meter fills you simply hit the button and watch the moves. Timing your attack so that you and up to three other fellow assassins hit targets at the same time generates more impressive kill sequences with slow motion and dramatic camera moves. Syncing up attacks like this will unleash super fancy dual kill animation sequences that will quickly get you addicted because you're talking about slick assassination moves times two….or three….or four. Very cool looking.
That's the good end of Wolfpack. If you're sloppy and terrible at assassinations you're going to see targets scurrying away, your time running out and just a short crappy experience. Like I said, the sequences get tougher as you go along so eventually targets will be better at escaping and some will start fighting back when they see you or one of your assassin teammates taking out a target, their friend. This is why timing your attacks is so important. You can end up leaving your fellow pack members in a tough situation if you drop your target while your mates aren't ready. Coordinating attacks over headsets is highly recommended if you want the coolest effects and most points.
So far the Wolfpack mode gets high praise for originality because it can be very difficult coming up with multiplayer modes for third person stealth-action games. With AC3's Wolfpack and Splinter Cell's Spies and Mercs, Ubisoft seems to have figured out that cooperative gameplay is good place to start, where a game like Gears of War, in my opinion, is still searching (that is until GoW: Judgment gets here because that one looks strong). Keep it here for more on Assassin's Creed III because this one just got a little more interesting.
Be sure to enjoy the video interview with Alex Hutchinson, AC3's Creative Director, even though it's only kind of related to the new Wolfpack mode. You'll still learn plenty.