When gamers see more than one game from the same franchise released within a year of each other, we tend to be wary. Most of us, anyway. Imagine everyone's surprise when Ubisoft first revealed Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. As new details came to light, the gaming community just got confused.
So Ubisoft Montreal's associate producer Jean-Francois Boivin is trying to set the record straight. This isn't some kind of half-assed sequel, but a robust standalone.
"It's not a mission pack. It's not a 2.5. It's set in Rome, which is three times the size of Florence, which technologically is a challenge to do, just memory wise. You have this enormous playground to play with. And you have these new features, these new elements that bring a new twist and a new angle to Ezio's story."
"It's about Ezio teaching others how to become assassins. There are a lot of core features we worked on. We brought a lot of new, deep and vast features – the old Rome upgrade system, the economic system - the Brotherhood is a game in of itself."
On the subject of Brotherhood's surprisingly speedy development process, Boivin notes that much of the foundation had already been laid out by ACII. The team already knew Ezio would be returning as the main hero, and they'd already settled on using Rome. Any changes made (i.e. improved horses AI) can be done relatively painlessly.
"We already knew we wanted to do Rome. So the graphics team stayed the graphics team - bang, start building Rome really quickly. We know all our technical and design guidelines. How to build a city so Ezio can do some free running? The AI guys – how you can improve on NPC AI? How can we improve on the horse? How can we improve on the fights? We started working on that right away."
"Then the storyline. We already knew it was Ezio's story, and Patrice Désilets [now departed] already knew what the story was. So it was quick for us to do a story blueprint. Maybe two weeks after the release of Assassin's Creed 2 we already had the story down, and we probably started writing a few pages of script. Casting was already underway."
Boivin is confident and believes Brotherhood will outsell Assassin's Creed II. It's not an outrageous prediction, by any means, if the final product is even better than what we played at E3.