Review by thezirk
"Feather collecting comes to Next-Gen"
Let's get straight to it.
Gameplay - 6/10
Very unimpressive gameplay filled with repetition and collection mini-games reminiscent of Super Mario 64's quest for stars. Except Super Mario 64 was way better. Basically in this game you go along collecting feathers, gold, armor, weapons, paintings, codexes, seals and other garbage that serves little purpose other than to unlock more garbage. However, the collection side-quests are pretty easy too. I had as much gold as I could ever need just a few hours into the game, and armor and weapons aren't even necessary to make the game easy. You also spend a lot of time doing missions and side-missions that generally involve one of three things: assassinating somebody, punching an unfaithful husband, or delivering a message to someone in a limited amount of time. All of these missions are pretty bland and nonsensical.
The assassination side-missions naturally involve you assassinating somebody. Usually the story behind the mission was something like "This dude is making trouble for us, so kill him. Thanks." I lost interest, honestly. Then the missions themselves are entirely repetitive and nonsensical. Usually the guy you have to assassinate is in some particular area of the map indicated by a symbol on your minimap. You travel there and then seemingly have a number of ways to do the deed. It usually doesn't matter how you complete the mission. If you want to straight up walk in and fight the target and fifty of his guards, you can do it. The AI is pretty unintelligent so they will generally attack you in sequence until you counter-attack them all to death. If you're bad at combat, you could just throw a smoke bomb and stun them all while you kill the target. Or if you prefer the stealth method, you can hop along the top of buildings and jump down on your target for an instant kill. Pretty simple with relatively no thought involved. However, you might want to pretend you're playing a good game and sneak around in the shadows, staying out of sight of the enemy and using cover to silently approach your target. Even this isn't fulfilling, as the guards will let you walk around behind them, splashing in water or jumping on buildings, as long as you aren't in their line of sight. Apparently they are all listening to their iPods. They won't even mind if you dispatch a guard and throw his body off the rooftop and it lands in front of them. They will stare at it for a few seconds and then go back to chilling in their designated areas. This includes the guards that are supposedly guarding "restricted areas." Personally, if I were guarding a "restricted area" with some super duper important bad guy holed up inside, I would investigate a little harder if random bodies started falling from the sky.
The "beat-up" side-missions are even more mindless. The story behind every one of them is that a husband is cheating on his wife, which is itself disappointing. I mean, I can think of a few other reasons you might want to beat somebody up without killing them, but they didn't even acknowledge that. It's all about the cheating husbands. So you go and find this guy, punch him and a few other unarmed peasants who might get involved a few times, and then you pretty much win. I don't think it would be possible to even lose one of these missions if you left the game unattended and went to the restroom.
The courier missions are actually somewhat interesting because you can actually fail at them. If you were to somehow run in the opposite direction of the letter's recipient for 2 of the 5 minutes (or whatever amount) allotted to you, you might still make it to the target, but you might not. It's suspenseful to say the least.... In all seriousness, these missions are also incredibly straightforward, unchallenging and unrewarding.
Overall this game is full of repetition. After you've killed someone a few different ways you realize that there's no reason to even attempt stealth as you aren't rewarded for it. The only benefit is the cool stealth-kill animations, but those get old fast. The missions are repetitive with little to no difference between missions of the same type.
The challenge is non-existent even in the main story. I found myself searching for a difficulty setting, thinking maybe it was on easy. Apparently, however, assassins are a breed of super-hero. Perhaps the next game in the series will allow the player to shoot fireballs out of his hands to destroy entire towns. At least it'd be faster with the same effect.
Story - 5/10
This story was pretty cliche'. I anticipated the plot within minutes of meeting the characters. It was just so dull and unimaginative. You basically experience the story through the eyes of two characters: Ezio and Desmond. Ezio is especially cliche and unimaginative. It's like they took every cliched plot and character they could find and threw them together into one especially boring plot and character.
I hated Ezio as soon as I met him. His reactions to events around him are so unreal and dense that I just wanted to pull him out of the game and slap some sense into him. I recall that at one point he was trying to have a casual conversation with someone who was bleeding to death. I found myself wishing he was the one bleeding to death. Desmond is even less interesting and equally irritating. From the moment the game begins, he shows disinterest in anything except hearing himself talk for the sake of talking. For this reason, I couldn't empathize with any character except the ones trying to kill the "protagonists." The only memorable character is one who gives a shameless impersonation of Mario. And then that character isn't even heard from for about 90% of the game.
Graphics - 7/10
I guess the graphics were pretty good. I wouldn't call them breathtaking or anything, but I didn't have any major aesthetic complaints. However, there is a large amount of screen-tearing and flickering textures. Most everyone has experienced this, but it didn't bother me much because I'm used to it.
Sounds - 8/10
I did enjoy the spoken Italian. I thought it was nice that they added a feature to make Italian the spoken language throughout the game, but for some unknown reason they didn't include a feature to make Italian the only language spoken only within the Italy setting. Instead, if I turned on Italian then I got to listen to characters in both Italy and the United States speaking Italian. Additionally, the voice actors sound nothing alike, even for Ezio, who is supposed to be a native Italian. So if you have English on he speaks with an Italian accent, but if you turn on Italian he speaks Italian in much different way.
None of the music is noteworthy.
Replay value - 4/10
If you enjoy collecting stuff in-game for the sake of collecting stuff, then it might be fun to play even after you've finished the game. Otherwise I can't imagine someone subjecting themselves to the game a second time.
Overall - 6/10
I would recommend renting this game if you really want to play it. It's worth a couple hours of time, but after that you'd have to be a masochist to enjoy it. Most everything in the game can be completed with one rental anyway, so no reason to purchase.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 11/30/09
Game Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 11/17/09)
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