Six of them. There are six development studios working on Assassin's Creed Revelations. At first glance it seems excessive, but if you're turning round a game as ambitious as this in a single year, the more hands you have on deck the better. But will too many cooks spoil the broth? In a war between cliches, truth is the first casualty.
So here's another number for you: 50. Ezio Auditore da Firenze is half a century old, yet he's still capable of swinging around the streets of the new city, Constantinople, like some kind of renaissance Batman.
Now, we know what you're thinking because we're thinking it too. Despite being huge Assassin's Creed fans, the idea of playing another game as old man Ezio, in the same time period, doesn't fill us with the pure excitement that a proper Assassin's Creed 3 might.
You may think more features and a new city are no substitute for a mysterious new character and unexplored era. Look beyond the cynicism though, and you come back to that first number: six. There are six studios working on Revelations... even if the subject matter feels a little familiar after ACII and Brotherhood, the game we're going to get will be huge, polished and potentially brilliant.
So what's the story? In Revelations you are once again Ezio, visiting Constantinople (now called Istanbul) to locate Assassin's Seals. These seals contain memories hidden by Ezio's ancestor Altair: remember him from the fi rst game? Find a seal and you get to play as Altair, reliving that particular memory. Expect huge fan service here, as Revelations uses this new device to fill in the Assassins vs Templar story in the years between the first game's Crusades and the Renaissance of the later instalments.
The Assassin's Seals are hidden throughout Constantinople, which will be split into districts, much as the Rome of Brotherhood was. When you're not hunting for them, you tackle side-missions - promised to occur in a more organic fashion this time - for random people who ask Ezio for help, rather than as preset dots on your map. The Borgia Tower concept returns (this time they're called Assassins Dens) so you must clear out the occupying Templars to control their areas of influence - essentially unlocking the ability to renovate Constantinople.
Interestingly, there will be more options for tackling these Dens than either 'chase' or 'fight' - we're hoping for a Batman-style Silent Predator option for taking out certain Templar commanders. And if you don't develop your Den once you've captured it, there's a chance you could lose it as your enemies fight back.
Ezio isn't alone in Constantinople (is he ever alone? Desmond is always in his head) as he's brought the Brotherhood with him. Details on these missions are scarce, but given the involvement of RTS developer Massive Entertainment - now an internal Ubisoft studio and confirmed to be working on Revelations - we expect them to be developed into a strategic meta-game that runs alongside the regular story.
Given that multi-player will return with a proper story attached to it, Revelations is starting to sound more like Assassin's Creed: The Orange Box - something given further credence by the role Desmond plays in all this. At the end of Brotherhood Desmond is left unconscious after doing that bad thing. Now, in Revelations, he must rebuild his mind within the Animus, using an area called The Black Room. These sections play out as puzzle sequences and feed into the main plot, as Desmond uses the game-world to reconstruct his memories. It sounds bizarre, but then again, we said that about the first Portal and that turned out pretty well...
So no, Revelations isn't Assassin's Creed 3. And yes, its star is a 50 year-old man with sculpted facial hair he's waaaay too old to be wearing. However, it is a compelling idea within a game engine that still knocks the stuffing out of most other open world adventures. It has three main characters, a massive new city and - oh yeah - six development studios.
Order PSM3 here and have it delivered straight to your door