Finding Altair

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It's 1511 and the city of Constantinople is flourishing under Ottoman rule. The political climate isnít peaceful. The city is home to every major civilization at the time and everyone is plotting against everyone else to become heir to the throne. It is the perfect environment for an assassin and serves as a major component in the gameís mission structure. However, Ezio isnít there to fill his purse with coins and help one family member rise above another. Heís in search of the wisdom left behind by his ancestor, Altair.

After spending two games stabbing his way through Italy on a quest for revenge, Ezio embarks on a quest of self-discovery. Now 50, Ezio realizes that he has spent the better part of his life as an assassin, yet knows nothing about the order or its traditions. His journey brings him to Yusef, the leader of the Assassin Order in Constantinople, who tells Ezio about a vault in Masayef, the Assassinís stronghold from the first game. To reach the vault, Ezio will need to find five keys.

Like Brotherhood, Revelations isnít a direct series sequel. Instead, it is a side-story to the main narrative. Previous games have asked more questions than have been answered, leaving a lot of loose ends. Before jumping into Assassinís Creed 3, which will presumably follow a new assassin, Ubisoft wants to clear up any questions still lingering from Ezioís adventures. While one or two major questions will carry over into the next game, the goal is to offer players closure after investing so much time in Ezioís story.

Weíll also find out more about Altairís fate after the first game. Although hints have been dropped in the last two games, we really donít have much of an idea of what Altair was up to after finding the Piece of Eden. In the present, Desmond is also dealing with his own issues. Youíll play as all three assassins throughout the game, though the actual structure is still a mystery. Players who went after the glitches in the last two games already know there is a problem in the Animus, so itís likely those issues will seep through into Ezioís world, though there is also the possibility of more Eden artifacts showing up.

Ezioís adventure through Constantinople isnít much different than previous games, though there are a few changes. Ezioís arsenal has been tweaked. He can now craft bombs by collecting items in the world. The system is an improvement over Brotherhoodís item-based quests. You can craft a variety of bombs based on how you want to play the game. During the demo, we got a look at the new smoke bombs, which are a little more effective this time. You can also add a little more punch to your bombs if you want.

Another addition is Ezioís hook blade, a curved blade that replaces one of Ezioís dual wrist blades. The hook blade is useful in combat and opens up an entirely new set of quick-kills and combat maneuvers. It also allows Ezio to quickly get around the city. Constantinople is a smaller city than Rome, but is a more densely-packed area. While Rome was filled with open fields, Constantinople is more of a vertically build city. The tight streets mean Ezio wonít have a horse. Instead, he can use the hook blade to zipline around the city using a series of ropes put in place by the local Assassinís Guild.

Ziplines played a major part in the demo mission. Ezio is on the run and the government has ďraised the chainsĒ in the harbor, an incredibly drastic measure at the time, especially when the goal is to capture one man. No one can get in or out of the city by ship, forcing Ezio to plant a bomb at the base of the chain tower to break the blockade. After toppling the tower, Ezio used the hook blade to zipline between vessels. Along the way, he clears a path for his ship by destroying others with a mounted flamethrower.

Although mission structures will remain largely unchanged, the storytelling component will be refined. With so many questions left to be answered, thereís a lot of content to get through so donít expect as many meaningless missions as previous games. Side-quests will also see an overhaul. Quests will be more dynamic and organic to the overall experience. Rather than finding a quest-giver standing around waiting for Ezio to swoop in, youíll uncover them in a more natural manner.

Altairís gameplay hasnít been revealed, though after the harbor demo I was invited to watch a short video detailing Desmondís gameplay. If you havenít played through Brotherhood, you might want to skip ahead to the end, otherwise prepare for a major spoiler.

Following the events at the end of Brotherhood, Desmond is in a coma. The only way to keep him alive is to plug him back into the Animus. However, given his mental state and the strain of using the Animus, Desmond has entered a sort of ďSafe Mode.Ē Here he can access any number of fragmented memories. These will provide for a brand-new puzzle mechanic as well as offering insight into Desmondís background. Thereís also the possibility Desmond will finally find out what happened to Subject 16, the last person to crack after using the Animus.

Even after watching the gameplay demo twice, the video presentation and an short post-demo Q & A session, there are still many more questions surrounding Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood. Very little information was given on how the Guild management system will work. Thereís also a question of how the Facebook game will tie into Revelations.

Hopefully, weíll find out more closer to the gameís Fall release.