Review by LC46D82U
"Reliving your ancestor's life through the Animus once again!"
***Descriptive review, skip down below to the next section of the review for a shortened version***
This review isn't intended to spoil the game and any references to specific parts of the game are written vague enough in order to keep the element of discovery once you have reached that specific point of the game.
You assume the role of Desmond Miles picking up exactly where the first installment of this series left off. The lightning quick pace of the opening scene is a perfect way to get you immersed back into the tumultuous life of Desmond Miles. The first noticeable issue for me at this point in the game was the use of profanity. Don't get me wrong, I can hold my own talking to sailors and I am in no way offended by the use of words. The problem I had was with the way it was delivered. Perhaps the script could have been rearranged somehow to incorporate those words in a better way, or the voice actors could have delivered the lines more naturally. Although the game is rated M the PG audience playing this game will merely look over this quibble of mine.
Once you are settled in at your new home, a warehouse building, you begin with more research of the past through your DNA using a modified Animus dubbed, "Baby."
Now that the groundwork has been established you begin your exciting and danger filled adventure through your ancestor, Ezio Auditore. After the introduction sequence you will immediately be familiar with the way the game handles. In this sequel they development team crafted the core missions in such a way that you will not feel as though you are doing the same things over and over again as you did in the first. Everybody remembers the first game getting stale fast after the realization that the tasks leading up to the assassination of each target was identical. This is a huge plus for Assassin's Creed 2.
Stability issues came up 3 times during my play through of this game. The game would freeze and require a complete system shut down and reboot to get back into the game, this is something I would consider a minor flaw. The aesthetic flaw that I found prevalent in this game was during the view point synchronization. Depending on how you positioned Ezio before synchronizing with the view point his lead foot would be suspended in air, again this is a minor flaw. There was one scene inside a brothel in Venice that had massive screen tearing on the onscreen characters that would also be a minor flaw. Other than those bug/stability issues there was nothing major or catastrophic that consistently interrupted the enjoyment of the game.
As I mentioned the core missions in this game were well executed, entertaining and skillfully crafted. However, the extra side "quests" you could perform on your own had several glaring issues.
The first, and most important early on in the game were the treasure maps from the art dealer. This was a major problem because early on in the game the 250 florins you would receive by opening a treasure box was considered a fortune. Treasure boxes had to be found early on because you wouldn't realize that you could simply buy a map from the art dealer revealing the position of EVERY treasure box in the region you bought the appropriate map for. This made the first two parts of the game a massive treasure hunt, it would also lead to balance issues by the time you finished this early portion of the game.
Second, the glyphs located throughout the game world at various historical locations contained coded messages from, "Subject 16." When you stand near one of these glyphs and enable eagle vision you will be brought into a short segment which usually has Subject 16 being tormented by his mental state in one way or another followed by a puzzle. My issue here is that the puzzles took away from the game so much so that by the time I got through all 20 puzzles I had spent approximately two and a half hours on them (NOT finding the glyphs, but just performing the puzzle portion). Some of the puzzles were ridiculously simple where you scan the cursor over an image and identify a piece of Eden, while others require you to have the ability to break complex code sequences. This is a major flaw and should not have been included in this game in the manner that it was presented.
Third, the codex pages were too easy to locate. All you had to do to find the pages that weren't received after assassinations is to go to a view point and then access the map. They should have made the codex pages the same as the collectible feathers in this game, you would have to seek them out on your own with the only guidance being guards in front of a door way. This part of the game lacked imagination and was repetitive. Being that this part of the game is "kind of" required it is a major flaw to have something like this be so mundane of a process.
A somewhat moderate flaw is the lack of an option to travel within the same region you are currently in using the, "fast travel station." I would believe that the fast travel stations would work like intercity buses as well, but unfortunately that isn't the case here.
I mentioned that there was a problem with allowing the sale of treasure maps that reveal the location of every treasure chest in the region. The problem with this is that early on when you are managing a particular area money is tight. However, if you purchase these treasure maps and loot the first two cities dry you will almost have enough money to purchase everything you need in your management position. What this in turn does is give you almost an infinite amount of money to purchase everything you would ever need in the game early on and your reliance of florins is reduced to nil. So much so that the game should simply stop awarding you florins for completing quests that don't result in an actual transfer of cash to you (an example is after you complete a Tomb side quest).
The last gripe I had about this game was that despite the number of weapons available in this game, the best weapons in the game were your fists, followed by your opponents weapon once you disarmed him. There are many weapons to select from throughout the game but you will eventually feel like mashing the button is the only way to kill the enemy and they ultimately end up blocking often and are immune to counters so this becomes a drawn out affair. This is of course remedied by using only your fists and disarming the enemy then dispatching them since they have no unarmed combat ability. Without saying much, the game ends as a wrestling match which is anti climactic. Throwing knives were also disabled during some of the side quests but are enabled and can be used to quickly end "boss fights." This is a major flaw.
So there are several major flaws so far, and you are probably thinking why did I give it a score of 7 and is there any redeeming qualities to this game that deserves you to purchase this title?
The core missions are executed in such a fluid manner that the story keeps you glued to the seat for much longer than you should be seated in a single game session. The directing and script throughout your exploits in Italy are done in such a way that it immerses you the player as Ezio Auditore from the moment you begin the game controlling him.
The parkour system in this game is back with breathtaking landscapes to view from high a top church towers as well as the rooftops littered in the urban landscape.
The atmosphere of the game is enhanced by the citizens who inhabit each region you visit throughout your journey of revenge. Their conversations amongst themselves, the news of rising taxes from the Heralds, and the nuisance of the bothersome musician causing you the trip and fall down while running from the guards all amount to an experience that is rivaled by what must have been reality during that era.
The fighting system is very fluid, allowing counter attacks and the quick selection of targets you wish to attack, emphasizing the lethal nature of the assassin, Ezio Auditore as he quickly darts from one target to another striking his enemy down and instantly killing those who attempt to land a blow on him by countering their feeble and audacious attempt at striking a member of the Assassins.
By the time you finish playing through the game you will be satisfied, for the time being with the information gained after your journey through the eyes of Ezio. Each landmark that you travel through is carefully detailed, and the city's many streets are wonderfully laid out in a believable way.
I recommend this game to everybody that has played and enjoyed the first game despite its flaws as this sequel does not possess the repetitive traits that the original did. If you are new to the Assassin's Creed series of games you aren't required to have played the first, as the only important piece of information that you would need to know from the first is that the Animus is a machine that is capable of having its user live the life memory of their ancestors by accessing information locked in their DNA.
Thanks for reading!
-If you loved AC1 then definitely purchase this.
-If you hated AC1 because it was repetitive, this game will NOT disappoint you, they removed the repetitiveness in which you progressed throughout the core missions in AC1.
-The story reveals much more back story about the Assassin's Creed game universe further drawing you into the game.
-Glyph puzzles are time consuming if puzzles are not your specialty, fortunately these are not required to complete the game.
-The game allows you to roam much more free than compared to the first game. There are still walls blocking you but they aren't as restrictive as the first game.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 11/23/09
Game Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 11/17/09)
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