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Assassin's Creed II

The Digest: Assassin’s Creed II creates a phenomenal sequel, while incorporating the most lethal Italian on this side of the Mushroom Kingdom.  The improvements made to the formula established in the first Assassin’s Creed are what will bring new fans into the fold.  Now, me writing this review and you reading this review is robbing us of some valuable AC2 time!!

 

THE FACT SHEET

RELEASE DATE:  November 17th, 2009
PUBLISHER:  Ubisoft
DEVELOPER:  Ubisoft Montreal
ESRB RATING:  “M” for Mature
GENRE:  Action

PRODUCT OVERVIEW:
Assassin’s Creed 2 is the follow-up to the title that became the fastest-selling new IP in video game history. The highly anticipated title features a new hero, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a young Italian noble, and a new era, the Renaissance.  Betrayed by the ruling families of Italy, Ezio embarks upon an epic quest for vengeance. To his allies, he will become a force for change—fighting for freedom and justice. To his enemies, he will become a boogey man—dedicated to the destruction of the tyrants abusing the people.

PRODUCT FEATURES

  • New Assassin: The lineage continues … introducing Ezio, the new Assassin.
  • Open world: Experience the freedom and immersion of an all-new open world and mission structure.
  • Deadly weapons: Master the art of the assassin with all-new weapons and instruments created by Leonardo Da Vinci himself.

AC2(new)

Now this is how you make a sequel!  When I played the original Assassin’s Creed for the first time, the "graphics-whore" in me was in pure awe of what a nextgen title could do. There was no denying that the game looked beautiful and the presentation, voice acting and animation showcased what next gen gaming could do.  Although AC2 didn’t blow me away with its graphics this time, the gamer in me was still in awe.  The story takes place immediately following the events of the first game. You start the game, once again, as Desmond escaping your captivity. Once you enter the Animus, you take the role of Ezio and will literally watch him grow from birth. Whether you’re playing as Ezio or Desmond, you’re tale is one of vengeance against those who are trying to imprison you.  There are moments early in the game that will pull you into Ezio’s head and make you want to carry on his revenge along with him.  The storyline here is just one of the improvements AC2 makes over its predecessor and there are a many.

There was a lot of time and craftsmanship put into AC2 and you’ll notice from the moment the disc is booted up.  The 15th Century backdrop sets the atmosphere for the excellent soundtrack and the excellent presentation from the first game is back with improved brilliance.  Pretty much everything from AC1 that you didn’t like has been fixed and everything you liked about it has been improved.  There is a lot to do in this game….a whole lot!!

The first thing you’re introduced to is the combat.  The amount of moves that are initially thrown at you can feel a little overwhelming but, thankfully there is always the chance to go and practice the moves you’ve learned.  There are also a variety of weapons and armor that can be purchased or taken from your enemies, fallen or standing. The cool thing about all the weapons is that each causes Ezio to animate differently in combat.

AC2

Hiring thieves to help fight alongside you or ummm “courtesans” to help distract your enemies are just some of the things in this game that make you appreciate the overall life AC2 seems to take on its own.  The pedestrians in the streets help to really immerse you in the experience and blending in with them is an integral part of avoiding danger.  Being chased by enemies?  Try throwing some money in the street and watch as pedestrians go crazy trying to scoop it up.  From your main missions to side quests, this game has a lot of time waiting for you to invest in it.  If you want to play through the main story, you can probably finish the game in 8 to 10 hours and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you want to complete everything in the game, you’re probably looking at doubling that.  That’s because what happens in a game like GTA, happens here.   Side quests such as assassin missions, finding glyphs, platform races, finding feathers and paying “visits” to cheating spouses  may make you feel like there is too much to do and will go a long way toward distracting you and  keeping you off course.  My personal favorite was the tomb explorations which were very reminiscent of the platforming in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.  The great thing is that no matter what distracts you, you’re always guided by your main mission (which shows up as an exclamation mark on your map) and you can do anything you want in any order you want.  Overall, I loved the way the game made everything naturally fit with the world.  For example, doing “bad” things would raise your notoriety (similar to the wanted level in GTA).  In order to bring it down, you could either rip down wanted posters of yourself or bribing the right people.  This is an open world game and probably the best of this generation.

Currency is another improvement mad to the Assassin’s franchise.  Completing missions nets you money which, as mentioned earlier, allows you to purchase weapons and armor. It also allows you to invest in your Villa.  By investing in your Villa, you attract more visitors which will net you more money which, in turn etc…ahhh the circle of life!!  At first, this too may seem overwhelming but, as with everything in this game, give it some time and everything becomes simplified.

Now with all the good that’s going on here, the one sticking point for me was some of the animation.  When Ezio would begin an animation, you’re pretty much stuck until that animation ends.  This would become frustrating during certain sections of the game when you’re chasing someone, hit a button and because Ezio is near a wall, he’ll start climbing it when you just wanted him to double back.  There were just times where I felt like I wasn’t really controlling Ezio.

AC2 would be my game of the year if it wasn’t for Arkham Asylum.  There were so many times where it felt all too familiar especially when using Eagle Vision which was just like using Batman’s Detective Mode.  However, given the sheer size and scope of AC2, it’s totally something I can live with.  Ezio is just the 15th century version of Bruce Wayne with a much more violent temperament.

AC3

Conclusion: If you don’t love this game, you don’t love yourself. For those who loved the first Assassin’s Creed, you’re gonna love this one even more.  From beginning to end, this game is a vast improvement over its predecessor.  For those that were turned off by the first game’s mechanics and the uneven flow of the story, you have to give this game a chance.  The ending alone is so worth playing for.

PROS CONS
- Improves on the original in almost every way  imaginable.
- Platforming and combat in an open world done to perfection.

- Fantastic story and an ending that must be seen.

- Takes a while to get the action going,  very slow start.

- Have to wait for AC3!

Single Player: 9/10 | Multi-Player: N/A

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