Multiplayer in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, in its Wanted game mode at least, is remarkably unlike anything you'll have played recently. That is, unless you've been playing indie intrigue-em-up The Ship, in which case you'll have some grasp of the sort of cautious, suspicious and heart-stoppingly tense competition Ubisoft Montreal have crafted. The experience will also be instantly familiar to anybody who's ever stalked somebody through Rome while dressed as a priest, or been stabbed in the back of the head so that the dagger comes right out through their eye and everyone's all like "wooaahh".
So, Wanted sees six players choose a character and enter a small chunk of the single-player's sprawling urban locale. It's assassin versus assassin, and who you choose to look like isn't important - there are no advantages or disadvantages to be had in the choice. The streets are populated with copies of the very same characters being played by your opponents, and so the effect is that you and your fellow assassins are, for the most part, anonymous and not immediately identifiable as anything besides another mindlessly strolling pedestrian.
You're given another player as a target, alongside two pieces of information to go by: a picture of the character they're playing as, and a radar "wedge" to guide you to them. This guide becomes less accurate the closer you get to your target, which is where the cleverness of looking like any number of other people on the street comes into play. Your target, if he's playing well, will be walking next to somebody who looks just like him. Kill the wrong person and you lose the contract - and the points go to your would-be victim as he giddily bounds out of view.
You too are the target of another assassin, and so must try to blend with crowds to avoid a swift death. If your pursuer attempts anything indiscreet - anything from clambering up a wall to simply sprinting towards you and screaming - they're marked as a red flag on your radar, and you're given a chance to escape. Break line of sight and hide (piles of hay make their cameo appearance here), and your opponent loses his contract. Parkour your way into an alleyway and you can close special "chase breaker" gates behind you, delaying your pursuer and enabling your escape. These gates lend a crucial advantage to the person being chased, forcing all players to be as close as possible to their targets before engaging.
Of course, while running from your pursuer you're likely to give away your own position to your target, meaning that it's in everybody's interests to keep the pace of the multiplayer game slow in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, losing your cool and heading for the rooftops only when your hand is forced. Abilities such as Morph allow you to surround yourself with similar looking civilians, making it almost impossible for your assassin to pick you from the crowd. The Disguise ability changes your character skin entirely, though it also alerts your pursuer that you no longer look like who you're supposed to look like. Meanwhile throwing knives and wrist-cannons are your offensive abilities - useful for when you've mucked up and startled your target. These abilities come in selectable pairs at the beginning of a match.
This is all strikingly original stuff, and if Wanted is indicative of just how clever Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood can get, and just how far from the tired norms of gun-toting deathmatching Ubisoft can wander, then we're genuinely in store for one of the most ambitious and refreshingly unique online experiences in recent memory. November 16th's the date to carve into your forearms. More stabbilicious info as we hear it.