Thanks to consumer demand - according to Ubisoft, that is - the Assassin's Creed series returns earlier than expected this year with Brotherhood, a Rome-set spin-off that continues the story of ACII's Ezio.
As Ezio's story continues he is now a legendary Master Assassin out to stab and shoot the remaining leaders of the Templar order.
It's complicated stuff, so to help us get our heads around the game we spoke with Ubisoft Montreal designer, Patrick Plourde to find out exactly how this new layer to the epic tale will work.
How much depth will Brotherhood's multiplayer mode have? The mode we played seemed to have shown all its surprises...
You've played one mode. I think each mode will bring its own twists and aspects. As you progress your skills and the experience you gain through playing you learn the best tactics to master it and to reach the top of the charts.
At the same time the studio working on it worked on the Spy Vs. Merc mode in Chaos Theory which was a fan favourite, a mode that was played a lot on the original Xbox Live. So the team already experienced with those alternative multiplayer modes, to make sure they are addictive. I think there are players who are interested in innovation that are probably going to give it a first and second look.
The re-playability value for the multiplayer mode is great. The strong pillars of our franchise; the free-running etc., show what we can bring to such a setting.
Back to the single-player, Ezio has founded the Brotherhood, has a guild and is commanding people. Is that introducing an element of squad command or anything or is it still you controlling an individual person?
It's about using the Assassin's as a tool, it's not Rainbow 6: Renaissance. It's more about context; you're going to be able to assign skills to Assassins. If I have guys training to be fighters and need help in a fight those guys will come and help, they are going to use all the tools I have provided them.
If I'm stalking in a mission or tailing somebody and I want to make sure I'm not detected by guards I can use my Assassins to dispatch guards stealthily while still being on the target I'm tailing. We want the Assassins to provide a new way to look at it, something tactical on the situation, on just one button.
The first game attracted some controversy because it was set in the holy land and had religious overtones, the second one seems to have ducked that. Are you worried about that at all with Brotherhood? Or do you think the brand's proved that it's not trying to make waves in that way?
I don't think there are going to be problems if things are treated with respect and seriousness. Our audience is mature enough to handle that type of matter. As long as it is not disrespectful I don't think there are going to be complaints, I don't expect that at this point.
It's just in one city now, Rome, rather than having multiple cities. Does that mean the actual playing area is smaller, same size or bigger?
We actually went to Italy two years ago to do a scouting trip to take pictures for references. When we saw the city of Rome we said ok, this place is just too big and we'd rather we have Venice and Florence which are very true to pure renaissance. We said, 'these are good and we're also doing Tuscany because it links Venice and Florence', but we said Rome would have to be brought in later.