Assassin’s Creed 2 Review

by Figboy

Genre: Sandbox Action/Adventure

Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

Price: $59.99 (USD)

Despite the original Assassin’s Creed’s highly intriguing premise and impressively realized cities, the game play suffered from extreme repetition and blandness. Even so, I found it to be, overall, a compelling, interesting game. The ending left me a bit irked at it’s abrupt nature, and blatant attempt at shilling a sequel. Still, I figured it was just laying the groundwork for an even more impressive sequel.

And I was right.

Right off of the bat, Assassin’s Creed 2 establishes a more compelling world and characters. Players once again step into the shoes, or should I say, genetic memory, of Desmond Miles, who has been spirited away by fellow assassin Lucy Stillman, in order to be hooked up to the “Animus 2.0,” and uncover further information about the Templars and their latest plans.

This jaunt takes Desmond to 12th century Italy, Florence to be precise, and into the shoes of newcomer Ezio Auditore de Firenze. Ezio is immediately more relatable than previous ancestor Altair. He is a bit of a slacker, a showoff, and a ladies man. His cavalier attitude only makes him that much more endearing. Without revealing too much of the plot, which is one of the game’s best features, tragedy befalls Ezio a short ways into the game, and it begins his quest down the path of the Assassin. It’s a classic revenge tale, and honestly, I’ve always been a fan of games that let you stick it those that wronged you (in Assassin’s Creed 2’s case, literally “stick it to them,” with pointy things!).

Initially it seems as if the game is the same old Assassin’s Creed, but the overall way progression is laid out is much smoother and believable. Ezio eventually acquires a myriad of skills and tools at his disposal, from dual Assassin Blades, to smoke bombs, to poison blades and pistols, not to mention a glider, courtesy of family friend, Leonardo Di Vinci.

Mission structure is vastly improved, in that there is no more tedious gathering of evidence in order to unlock the contract to assassinate your target. Ezio knows all too well who must pay for their wrongdoings, but even so, the help of allies is always appreciated, and to get that help, Ezio must do a few tasks here and there for them. The variety of these tasks is broad enough to keep you from being bored, and there are still optional quests that you can complete that reward you with Florin (money, of course), which you can use to upgrade your Villa.

Did I forget to mention that one of the new additions to the game is becoming the purveyor of your own estate? Whoops. During the course of the game, Ezio will acquire the rights to his family villa, which can be upgraded by spending Florin, finding hidden objects like statues, and secret Codex pages that are scattered across the 7 locations in the game (which range from Florence, to Rome, to Venice). Upgrading your town will also allow Ezio more access to better weapon and armor upgrades. I have to say that once the villa was available, I spent a significant amount of time sidetracked from the main story until I had upgraded the entire estate.

Combat in the game is roughly the same, with the addition of more weapons (you can disarm soldiers and use their weapon against them), I’ve always enjoyed the more defense oriented combat system in Assassin’s Creed, so more of the same isn’t too bad. The parkour system is also relatively unchanged, which is a positive and negative. I found that the system works best when you are doing broad moves, like climbing a wall, or jumping from beam to beam in a straight line. The moment you have to do more specific movements, or lots of changes in direction is when the controls felt sloppy. I often found myself frustrated during some of the segments that have time limits, because I’d often jump in the wrong direction when trying to leap to the next point, turn, and do the same, and as fast as possible.

It’s a small complaint, but it’s there. Overall, however, the immersion, characters, and story felt more complete and interesting than it’s predecessor.

Visually, the game is extremelly impressive, with expansive, detailed environments, and well designed character models. Like it’s predecessor, the feeling of being in a real city is palpable, and the amount of interaction you can have with NPCs is quality, such as hiring thugs or female escorts to mask your presence (you can now blend into any group of larger than 3 people to hide from guards), or be a distraction while you slip through and accomplish your task. Considering how many environments there are in the game, the fidelity of the visuals is phenomenal. Despite the character model’s overall design being solid, some of the facial animation is weak, but there is nothing deal-breaking here at all.

VERDICT: BUY – A lot of people were turned off by the misteps of the original Assassin’s Creed, despite it’s compelling narrative, but I’m here to tell you that Assassin’s Creed 2 is such a step beyond what it’s predecessor has done, that I highly recommend it to not only the fans of the original, but to the jaded ones that walked away from the series. It’s always had potential, and Assassin’s Creed 2 showcases exactly what that potential is.

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