After Brotherhood, the main reason I got Assassin's Creed games was for the multiplayer. The best I can describe the single-player campaigns is...annoying. It's like going to a good movie but having the guy in front of you wear a big hat and talk the whole time. I really want to enjoy it, but there's just a bunch of stuff in the way that prevents me from really getting into it.
But I'm not here to harp on the single-player. Instead I'm harping on the multiplayer. Like I said before, it's become the main attration for me. I loved it in Brotherhood and Revelations despite some of it's flaws. And now that I've gotten around to the third iteration...well...like the main game, it's just gotten a little annoying. Don't get me wrong, I still love the concept and I can have a great deal of fun in it. However, the flaws are becoming more and more apparent each time I boot up the game.
For starters, the level-progression system is so blatantly manipulative that I can't even stand it. From the get-go you are not given nothing. Everything is locked behind a level barrier. Now if this were, say, cosmetic and vanity items I would be fine with it. But the ability to customize your abilities, perks, and other things that, you know, help you win the game are all locked away until you are higher level. Not only that, but they are also locked behind a kind of pay-wall.
You win "Abstergo Points" by participating in games. The better you play, the more points you get. The problem is, you can't really play all that well until you get all the abilities and what-not. And you can't get those until you start winning at games. And even if you restrain yourself from purchasing some of the useless cosmetic items, you still won't have enough points to get all the sets, abilites, and perks you might need to get along. It makes the early leveling a dreary slog wherein you get massacred the first several matches until you can finally buy the things you need.
I might have been able to forgive this leveling system if all the abilities and berks were balances. While most abilities sound good on paper, in practice it's easy to bend the game to your advantage with the right layout. I feel like the developers wanted (and encouraged, to be fair) stealth-like gameplay, but then started adding to the mechanics, not realizing how it would effect or ruin the core concept. For instance, in Assassinate Mode, you are given a general location for every other player. The goal is to spot the other players (there are duplicate character models throughout the large map), lock on to them(thereby making it impossible for them to lock onto-and therefore unable to assassinate-you), approach and assassinate them, and make sure you yourself aren't spotted by others. In theory, it's a good game mode. You have to traverse the map acting like an NPC, flushing out your opponents before they can figure out where you are. But with the right item sets, you don't need to worry about opponents locking onto you. You can simply use an item such as the smoke bomb to render your pursuer helpless, stun them, and then counter-assassinate. If you do it correctly, the would-be victim can rack up a solid 200-400 point kill for being easy to spot.
Pretty much every other game-mode has some kind of loophole to couteract the focus on stealth the multiplayer was founded on. Manhunt tasks you with finding one specific target and killing him/her. You are given a compas that points you near the target, but it gets less and less accurate the closer you get. Which is fine, until one person decides that stealth is not cutting on it and darts around the map or stay on the rooftops. This means that they are easier to spot and that they don't get as many points for each kill (100 minimum, I think). But it also means that if they are your target, then you will be easier to spot chasing after them, and you won't get as many points for chasing them down. Smart players will find a kind of sweet spot between sprinting around madly making themselves all obvious to kill targets quicker and staying still enough to get a stealth bonus.With the help of various abilities (chief among them the Poison Dart, a 250-point death sentence whether your assailant is stealthy or not) and it's easy for a player to become nigh-unstoppable.
That isn't to say that I didn't have fun with the game. When playing with similarly leveled opponents, I actually had a blast. I can't say I did much better at the game, but I at least I had a better chance placing in the top three instead of feeling doomed to last because my opponents had higher levels. There's also a mode called "Simple Deathmatch" which works like Manhunt except you are given only a portrait of your target and an indication if they become available in your line of sight. No look-alikes, no abilities, no compass. It's great because it feels like all the players are on the same level for once. The only problem I have with this mode is that it also guts out some of the things I like about the other modes such as large maps, the tension of having identical NPCs, and customization. And it's not that a hate items, I just hate it when they break the game.
So like the main game, I too view Assassin's Creed's multiplayer as a noisy man with a hat at the theatre. It's got great concepts and it can be quite fun, you just have to put up a ton of crap at the same time. It's a great concept, one I love even, it just seems to have gotten bogged down with bad design choices that it lost sight of what it was trying to accomplish. Which pretty much sums up my feeling for the single-player game, but I'll save that for another time.