Assassin's Creed: It's Back!

Massive eight-page blowout in this Wednesday's super-shiny new issue. Plus, exclusive interview starts today...

Yep, in the very next issue of Xbox World 360 (repeat: onsale THIS WEDNESDAY!), we've blown the lid off Ubisoft's Hitman-vs-Prince of Persia stealth-o-thon. And once the lid's come off, you'll find stunning all-new pics AND the full, amazing story inside. Oh, and for the next three days, you'll find an exclusive indepth interview with the game's writing team only on this blog...

Yep, after speaking to scriptwriter Cory May, we reckon we've figured out the 'twist' at the centre of the game. And it's all inside the next issue. In the meantime, here's the first of a three part interview with Cory, running over the next three days... leading up to - and we make no apologies for reminding you - the new issue of Xbox World 360, onsale THIS WEDNESDAY!

Q. So, Cory, tell us about the main story to kick things off...
Our game takes place at the height of the Third Crusade. Crusader forces (under Richard the Lionheart) are fighting to regain the region from Saladin. The city of Jerusalem is their ultimate destination (having been conquered by Saladin several years prior to the start of our game). As the Saracens and Crusaders battle one another for control - the Assassins are working to find a way to end the hostilities. They see the war as pointless. There is no reason Crusaders and Saracens should not co-exist in peace. The Assassins are not allied with either side of the conflict, nor are they driven by a desire for profit or power. They are also not interested in furthering a religious agenda. In fact, they are generally opposed to most forms of organised religion (subscribing to the philosophy that "Nothing is true, everything is permitted.").

This means that the Crusaders (and the Saracens) are not the Assassin's true enemy. War is - as are those who exploit it. So to sum up: The Assassins are fighting to end the Third Crusade. Along the way they will discover a mysterious group that stands to gain a great deal by prolonging and intensifying the war. Once this enemy is discovered, it will be up to Altair and his Assassin brothers to stop them.

Q. What attracted you to the Middle Ages as a setting?
I think it's safe to say that the Crusades are an area we've wanted to explore for a long time, but we've been waiting for technology to reach a point where we can do it justice. It's not enough for us to simply set the game here - we needed to capture the experience of living during this tumultuous time (especially) the fusion of European and Middle Eastern art and architecture; the hustle and bustle of medieval city life; the intrigue and political machinations of regional leaders; the gritty nature of ancient combat; the air of mystery that surrounds the secret societies that rose to power around this time.

We contacted a historian early in the conception phase of development to help us build a foundation of research. We have used the web, documentaries, old medieval encyclopaedias, paintings and novels. The historian helped us with some harder to find information such as original city plans of Jerusalem, Damascus and Acre that date back to the 3rd crusade. There is one book called "The Third Crusade 1191: Richard the Lionheart, Saladin and the Battle for Jerusalem" that has been especially helpful because it covers the year in which our game takes place.

Q. Going back to "nothing is true, everything is permitted", then... er, explain more...
The phrase itself defines the Assassins. The Assassins function with knowledge and information being given to members only as they move through the organisation's ranks. To understand the true meaning of this phrase, you'll have to play the game - and gain Assassin knowledge alongside Altair. To say more would be to give away some rather exciting plot twists and betray the Assassins' secrets!

You can also apply the creed to the game itself - traditional game design rules that enforce linear level design and restricted gamplay are being thrown away. Previous action/adventure standards are abolished ("Nothing is true") - and the player is given the freedom to experience this adventure in a manner that fits their individual play style ("Everything is permitted.")

Thus this concept influences all levels of the game - story, structure, and design. It's all incredibly exciting!