Review by GameDestroyer23
"Down with the old, in with the new!"
Remember when the first Assassin's Creed came out, and a lot of people felt that it didn't live up to the expectation of exiting, cunning, varied and mindless-slaughterfest gameplay? It seems as though the game we'd hoped the first would be has become a reality in Assassin's Creed 2. Welcome to the Italian Renaissance, and, indeed, it is the "Rebirth" of everything we know about Assassin's Creed.
First thing's first, and that's the gameplay. In Assassin's Creed 2, they've completely thrown out the old ways and now it's so much more fun. Instead of strolling about in a dull landscape, you get to expeirience a semi-modern, vibrant city full of people and stuff to do. Your assassination options are well expanded, as well as combat options, weapons, stealth options; you name it, it's possible. You can do literally anything short of arson in order to achieve your goals, and each goal is elaborately crafted with care- even the side quests, which, in my opinion, is just really ****ing awesome. However, the notoriety system, while a huge step up from "informed, suspicious, unsuspecting" format, is still annoying at times to have to drop what you're doing to find wanted posters to tear down- the game's only repetitive flaw. The "puppeteer" controls also finally make sense and are fluid, with no awkward maneuvers that were so prominent in the original game. Plus, the mission structure is so varied, you never have to do the same thing twice (other than the fun stuff, such as climbing, killing, hiding, and stalking), yet so fluid, the twenty hours it takes to run through the game feel like 2. The return of the "CANNOT ACCESS MEMORY" returns, but they don't seem to feel restrictive so much as preventing the player from getting lost, which happens a lot when completing side missions.
And then there's more to do once you're done. No, not boring emails that are really confusing and cryptic- more hacking and slashing! The optional side quests become absolute fixations (I still am on the hunt for feathers and trophies), and they never get old (although the glyph puzzles can get tedious, but then again, they only matter to those who find them interesting, anyway). The only downside is the inability to replay past memories like in the first, but if this is the price for true, honest replay value, I'm quite happy to pay it.
Next is the story. Or more accurately, the EPIC. The first game put its plot in between the lines, while AC2's plot weaves in and out of the lines with many twists and turns, and forms a truly beleivable and really gripping tale. The addition of the database does much more than teach you a history lesson- it allows you to read the backstory on each assassination target, location, character, event- the list goes on and on, but the point is that this is way more than simply "go here, do this, come back". The lovely part, however, is that it's a plot with REPLAY VALUE. You can research the parts than confused you (admittedly, there will be SOME) or find out the end of a side-plot you casually skipped over, or maybe re-read a paragraph you skipped over. Not to mention the downright electrifing ending.
As for the graphics, they're the kind that are so beautiful, so artistic, and so immensely satisfying, that us reviewers feel the need to scuffle to find something, ANYTHING bad about it to pick at. The bright, beautiful backdrop provides a nice change from the depressing setting of the original. The old tactic of using the same building template has completely dissappeared- real landmarks, beleivable towers, and other perfect bits of eye candy make the likes of Venice really spectacular and superior in every respect to the original. The level designs are quite clever- familiar white sheets, boxes, stands, and missing bricks make it seem like its quite possible to climb these landmarks in real life (which, in reality, is not so simple). Even the catacombs, which do not need to be very beleivable, are- they make it seem so easy to climb up to the rooftops of churches, while still being platforming puzzles. The downside, however, to beautifully designed buildings is the human interactions. Overlaps, artists moving through their own paintings, and a messy drop animation often ruin the NPC's feeling of reality- this really feels like the only area where it needs improvement of any kind.
Finally, the SFX. As for the music, it fits in quite well with the environment, but doesn't really stand out much often. However, in certain locations the music naturally times absolutely perfectly, making environments a bit more robust. For example, the music heard in the tomb areas is normally laid back and barely noticable, but the minute you get stuck and stop moving, it seems to suddenly spring out, even though no change in the dynamics or tone was made. The general theme flexes well with the rest of the music- you can't even notice a transition. The other sound effects, meanwhile, are awesome on a different scale. From gunshots, to coins falling, to the satisfiying shing of the hidden blade, all the sounds are quite natural and have no jarring transitions.
The Final Rundown:
-Awesome, varied gameplay
-Creative level design
-Amazing replay value
-Convincing locales and plots
-Fluid music and plot
-The gun (not really a pros, but pretty awesome)
-Vastly improved combat system
-Clumsy, somewhat dated NPC interaction
-Somewhat restrictive; no repeat memory function
-Easy to get lost while tracking collectables
OVERALL SCORE: 9.75/10 (nit-picky objections only)
GAMEFAQS SCORE: 10/10
Final Comments: In one sentence, if you haven't bought this yet, turn off your computer right now and go get it- or leave it on and buy it online, it doesn't matter, this one is a must -have for anyone who likes stealth, action-adventure, sandbox, historical or platforming games.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/30/09
Game Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 11/17/09)
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