Next Assassin's Creed Keeps Ezio, Ships by March 2011

Assassin's Creed 2.5

It seems Ubisoft's not finished with Ezio, the mellow sand-flinging, pole-sweeping, back-stabbing protagonist of Assassin's Creed 2. Surprising everyone, the publisher says we'll see him again in an unanticipated followup release, due out in fiscal 2011 (which means by next March, though I'm betting holiday 2010). Read that again: A new Assassin's Creed game.

Go ahead, disco-dance. I'll wait.

No, it's not Assassin's Creed 3, a game we probably won't see for a while yet, and one in which we're due to play primarily as bartender-turned-super-gymnist Desmond (as we've long expected). For the Ezio followup, think more along the lines of Assassin's Creed 'two-point-five'. Still, clearly more than an expansion (it'll be a standalone title).

And here's the second shoe dropping: It'll include online multiplayer.

"We have a new Assassin's Creed that we expect will be a very high quality product that as well as an offline complement will have a multiplayer component," said Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot according to CVG. More importantly, it'll be developed by the same studios (that's not a typo...studios with an 's') which Guillemot explains as "not only one studio creating the game, but an association of studios...working together to make it happen." Makes sense. After all, Ubisoft has facilites in some two dozen international locations.

Had I typed up a 'best of 2009' list, Assassin's Creed 2 would have topped it. The last game I played that developed as naturally, gracefully, and spectacularly was Lionhead's Fable 2. Batman: Arkham Asylum, Modern Warfare 2, Dragon Age, Demon's Souls, New Super Mario Bros...even Uncharted 2 didn't amaze and at times genuinely startle me the way Ubisoft's minor miracle of a sequel did.

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