Review by SolidFantasy
"A conspiracy so crazy and awesome even Tom Hanks isn't a bad enough dude to solve it"
In an absolute jam packed Fall of outstanding games Ubisoft Montreal one ups most developers and has brought us the follow up to Assassins Creed, a game that had a great story but was plagued with repetitive weak game-play. Assassins Creed as a series had massive potential though, so what did Ubisoft Montreal do? They listened to our complaints, fixed 90% of the game-play issues and released Assassins Creed 2, which absolutely destroys the original.
You no longer play as Altair, you now play as Ezio in 14th century Italy. The game is still connected to Assassins Creed though. There is mention of Altair and Desmonds story continues. Assassins Creed 2 picks up exactly where Assassins Creed left off. You escape Abstergo as Desmond with Lucy ( both characters voice actors from Assassins Creed have returned ) and flee to a warehouse acting as your hideout. There Desmond enters the Animus again to further unravel the mysterious conspiracy present in the story and is a witness to Ezios life from birth. Yes, when you first get control of Ezio, you are an infant. When you first get total control of Ezio though ( about 15 minutes after the birth scenes ) he is around 17. Throughout the younger years the game will act as a tutorial and rightfully so because Ezio does not know he is meant to be an assassin and solve a mystery that even Scooby Doo couldn't solve. An hour into the game ( I am not spoiling anything, this is in Chapter 1 still ) things happen and Ezios family save for his Mother and Sister are publicly hanged for reasons unknown. Before executed though Ezios dad tells him about how he is basically the one, and tells him where the Assassin gear is. For 19 more hours you will witness one of the absolute grandest stories in a game. You will uncover conspiracies about 14th century Italy, the story of Adam and Eve, famous people ( Hitler, Nikola Tesla, Kennedy ) which when all put together create an amazing story setting up Assassins Creed 3 which will no doubt make sense of everything and answer all the questions Assassins Creed 2 will leave you with. This game leaves you wanting Assassins Creed 3 the moment your jaw literally falls off at the end of the game. Assassins Creed in general is one of the finest crafted stories in any form of media
We all know that Assassins Creeds game-play... well, let's face it, it sucked. In a nutshell, for 13 hours you:
Sat on a bench and listened in on a conversation getting info
Assassinated someone irrelevant
Got a new assassination contract
died of boredom
Like I said though, Assassins Creed 2 doesn't just fix the issues, it goes above and beyond. I don't even know where to begin. First off, not one single moment feels like a chore. The game is never repetitive and flows perfectly aside from an overly long first chapter. The core game-play is much more fleshed out and isn't about assassinating random people and getting 2 minutes of story in between. Every character feels important in some way. The assassinations are much more varied, all feel different, and never are boring. There are even multiple ways of approaching them. It isn't just about assassinating though. There is great buildup to each assassination. The best part is that the story is always advancing and you never lose interest. The game spans about roughly 25 years of Ezios life too ( from the teenage era ). I suppose you want to know just how you are going to pull these assassination off. Your weaponry is HUGE! You have dual hidden blades, swords, daggers, axes, maces, spears, even a gun! Smoke bombs, throwing knives, the list just goes on. Combat although way too easy ( why do guards attack one at a time ) is very satisfying. Pulling off counter-attack kills is always fun and brutal. Walking up to random guards and stealth killing 2 at once with the hidden blades never gets old. Even unarmed fighting is fun. There is nothing more badass than letting an enemy swing at you only to counter and brutally kill him with his own weapon. You can throw sand at guards to stun them too which I find cool. Other neat additions are the ability to swim, tint your cape colors and purchase health vials. Your health does not automatically regenerate this time around. The game also has quick time events at random times during cut-scenes, and sadly they do not fit and just seem tacked on.
So we talked about combat, but obviously assassins prefer to do things stealthily, so you are going to need to know how the plat-forming works so you can scale a building, leap into a pile of hay, then assassinate a nearby guard! Plat-forming mostly works great. Sometimes Ezio will do something totally opposite of what I wanted him to, but those instances were rare. Scaling and jumping across rooftops has honestly never been this fun. It's not just because the controls are responsive and simple, but Venice and Florence are gorgeous. Un-like most open world games, the civilians and cities in this game are just breathing with life. You get sucked in and attached to the games world that is filled with life. It is fun just taking in the sights and it is something you could do for hours and just get lost in. It is truly breathtaking seeing these historic cities rendered so beautifully. The plat-forming is as important as the combat as you will often be chasing people across rooftops and tackling or stabbing them. Throughout al the mission, combat and plat-forming flow together and become endless fun as one.
In the midst of all the story related missions the game offers numerous side missions. They range from scaling the highest buildings and synchronizing viewpoints to races across rooftops to beating up unfaithful men to collecting the games 100 hidden feathers/300+ hidden treasures to finding all 8 legendary assassin tombs to finding all 20 glyphs and solving their puzzles ( THEY WILL WRECK YOUR BRAIN but the reward for solving all 20 is incredible ) to upgrading your mansions value via buying famous pieces of art , buying and upgrading stores for your own market in which you earn income and more. To top it all off you can find Codex Pages and have Leonardo Da freaking Vinci decode them, in turn crafting new weapons for you. If you think this game is repetitive you are insane. Simple as that. It will easily take 40 hours to get 100%.
The music composed by Jesper Kyd does not just make this game automatically win original soundtrack of the year, it is beyond that. It's one of gamings best soundtracks. There is no disputing this. Battle themes and race themes will no doubt get your adrenaline pumping. It goes perfect with the setting.
Graphically the game is above average. It has a smooth frame-rate, no real technical issues and runs fine. There is much detail in the game and as said before, the game is beautiful, vibrant, and colorful. I know I did not discuss the controls but it would take forever. Just have no worries because it controls fine. Everything is simple, but there is just so much to do in terms of game-play that describing controls would just waste space.
Bottom-Line: It's an epic story driven experience that you must play. 9.3/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/14/09, Updated 02/09/12
Game Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 11/17/09)
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