Review by Kayos90
"Does the Sequel live up to the Promised Creed"
Assassin's Creed II Review
While Assassin's Creed wasn't a commercial failure when it was released in 2007, it definitely did not do as well as Ubisoft had wanted it to. The producer and designers of the game wanted something completely different and reinvent the action adventure genre. There were many expectations but it fell short due to its repetitiveness and out-of-nowhere story. Now two years have passed and Ubisoft is promising all that Assassin's Creed should've been, but is it just that or is it more?
Story -------- 8.5
The story in Assassin's Creed II starts literally minutes after Assassin's Creed with Desmond is staring at his bloodstained wall in his room. Lucy suddenly busts in saying that they need to escape but not before retrieving some very important information. Soon, both escape Abstergo, Desmond agrees to help Lucy and the other Modern Day Assassins, and he gets in the Animus 2.0. Everything happens so fast in the beginning it's a bit hard to catch up on what's really going in context of Desmond's world and the Templar/Abstergo's world.
With Desmond back in the Animus he relives the life of one more ancestor named Ezio Auditore di Firenze. Ezio is a young teenager living a carefree life in the city of Florence or Firenze, Italy. The time period is set during the Renaissance and art is flourishing everywhere. The memory starts out with Ezio in a brawl between the Auditore household versus the Pazzi household, a rival house to the Auditores. Ezio kicks everyone's ass and his older brother Frederico joins in to drive them away. The life of the Auditores is good and may it never change. Unfortunately, a conspiracy in the city has imprisoned Ezio's father and his brothers imprisoned soon after. Everything goes wrong and you find out that the friends that you knew are not really your friends but the people that you might view as enemies are in fact your very friends. When his father and brothers are killed, Ezio journeys on a quest of vengeance but unbeknownst to him that simple journey is in fact a larger conspiracy Written in Blood.
The story is actually quite fascinating in Assassin's Creed II and much of that has to do with Ezio being a much more dynamic character than Altair, who was a very flat character. Ezio is very lively due to his young age and very eager to kill. The story progresses at a very good pace but there's a problem that arises due to this. The game has an unfortunate pacing where it starts slow and goes very fast about 5/8 of the game through. Storywise this is rather good but gameplay wise it isn't but it's not a complete detriment to the experience. Not only is Ezio an amazing character but much of his comrades-in-arms are amazing too. Each has their own faction, set of skills, and knowledge. It's because of these resources that Ezio is able to the things that he is able. There are many many more characters in Assassin's Creed II than the first but it's now lost focus. The characters don't have too much background weaved into the story and instead it's in the database for the player's own leisure. While it's not bad, the story seems watered down when you meet a new character every other hour and not developed.
The general story of Assassin's Creed II is hard to explain without spoiling almost everything. The game is shrouded in foreshadowing or darkness, however, what makes up the story is very great and has definitely set the road of franchise that the first couldn't possibly do. Overall the story of Assassin's Creed II is a wonderful narrative that features a large cast with a beautiful protagonist but leaves a lot more questions then it answers from the first. However, what clues you find in the game and the foreshadowing that the game has to offer is for your interpretation and remember that Assassin's Creed: Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted.
Gameplay --------- 8.0
The core gameplay in Assassin's Creed II has drastically changed while it still remained the same. The progression of the game has been altered drastically. One of the major problems in the first game was that the mission structure was repetitive and boring. Go speak to an Assassin, complete 6 repetitive missions, go assassinate your target. That model has been completely trashed. This game is completely different because the missions are now made so that it makes sense as a narrative. It seems odd that gameplay would have to conform for a story in a game but it works very well in Assassin's Creed II. There are a variety of missions and it hardly feels repetitive and when it does it's only because the game is so long. The mission will range from eavesdropping, which is hard if you're not doing it right, secret assassinations, capture a target, and so much more. There's just more to do in this game.
While the design flow of the game has changed immensely, the combat of the game has not much. The combat is still the same with a few added features. You now have the ability to fight with Hidden Blades and fists effectively. You no longer have soldiers attacking one at a time and throwing knives aren't as cheap anymore. The game has done some renovations to the combat but it's still the same-old same-old. While that isn't bad, Ubisoft has failed to address some problems that still remain. The counter is still the combat-killer for the game. All you have to do is just stand still and counter so you can kill them in one move. While they did make counter a little less effective because enemies now have Hit Point bars above them and they need to be at a certain HP in order to be killed, counter is still cheap. Not only this but you are invincible while in counter. This would have effectively made counter more practical in the game but it isn't and therefore Counter is the cheapest move in the game. When you counter an enemy, depending on the weapon the time interval you have to counter can vary. The interval for the sword has been vastly lengthened and makes it easier to counter, however, the other weapons have been shortened so it sort of balances out if you like to use different types of weapons. However, counter is not the only combat ability you have. Ezio is also able to attack normally with the hit of the X or Square button, on the Xbox and PS3 respectively, and grab the opponent with the B or Circle button also. The combat is diverse with multiple equipment to use such as knives, daggers, smoke bombs, blades, swords, maces, and more.
Despite the problems in the combat the free-roam of the game is very much the same. This is very good. There were little to no problems in this aspect of the game in the last one and this game makes it truer. Traversing through the city there wasn't much of a distinction between the cities in the first one but there definitely is in the second. The rooftop roaming is much different in Florence than in Venice due to the layout of the city and the roads and the variety of alleys, hiding spots, and such in each city. Overall the game is perfect in roaming. Another great aspect in this game other than the platforming is the climbing. Climbing was much like a puzzle when reaching the top of a tower and it's very much the same here. One detail that you will see between Ezio and Altair is that Ezio climbs a lot more quickly and smoothly than Altair so climbing is much faster.
The game will take an player between 17-30 for the first time just going through the story. With all the collectibles and side-quests the game will range for a good 40+ hours of gameplay or so. The game is definitely not short and each moment is an experience that is worth going through whether it be for the gameplay or the story. There is so much to do other than the story. The gameplay has definitely improved since the first one but the lack of problems dealt with the combat in the second one is a detriment to the experience. The combat isn't horrible, just not refined.
Graphics ------- 9.0
Graphics in Assassin's Creed II is definitely not the best in the industry but with good reason, the game is very large in scope. The graphics are definitely great when looked into with consideration of the genre of the game and the size of the world. The characters are well detailed, more so than the first, and the design is very amazing. Ezio is a particular stand out because of his intricate wardrobe. The textures on the buildings can use more finesse when zoomed in but it's fine when properly considered. The animations are still outstanding and definitely one of the franchise's highlights. Everything flows very smoothly and nothing seems mechanical at all.
There no major differences between the 360 and PS3 version of the game but there are a few minor ones. The PS3 version is prone to a longer load time, despite its installation to the hard drive, and sometimes framerate slowdowns. The 360 is also prone to slowdowns but more rare than the PS3 version. The two versions are near identical and it doesn't matter which you get. If you own both platforms I would only say the Xbox 360 because it's less prone to problems.
Sound ------- 10.0
The atmosphere, audio, vocals, everything is perfect in this game. To start off, one thing great that the first Assassin's Creed had was atmosphere. The sounds of the water rushing at the port, the people's responses, the sound of the bells and animals, almost everything was well composed. All aspects that made the atmosphere great in the first game is carried into Assassin's Creed II and is amazing. This makes the game much more immersive and that much greater.
The voice acting in the first game was phenomenal due to its authenticity and its attempt at making the game more realistic. Everything went well until Altair talked. His voice, or his accent, was nothing Arabic at all. This is fixed. Ezio has an Italian accent and so does the rest of the cast. There no voice flaws in this game. The game will often talk Italian mixed with English but if you want the full blown romance language then Spnanish, Italian, and such are offered as well. The accent is simply amazing and so is the voice acting everywhere.
Lastly is the musical score of the game. There isn't much to say other than that each piece fits with every single situation that is in the game. Starting from Ezio and Frederico's introduction with the Assassin's Creed II logo to the credits of the game, the mysterious but invigorating music follows through.
Tilt/Value ------ 8.0
There were only three words to describe side missions in Assassin's Creed: Flags and Fighting. In Assassin's Creed II, there are many words: Feathers, Assassinations and fights, races and retrieval, feathers and Villa, Paintings and More. There is much more to do in Assassin's Creed II than in Assassin's Creed and a lot of that has to do with two things. The first thing is mission design. Because there were new missions implemented into the storyline of the game, the old missions from the first game became side-missions and there are plenty. There are many side-missions to do throughout the game. The second thing is the Economy. The game has a money system where you can use it to buy stronger weapons and armors, collectible items, dye your outfit, and buy healing items. The money system seems a little overbearing at first due to the lack of money but it's rather unbalanced due to the villa. Once you put your money into the villa you horde in money and end up having more money than you can buy. Despite this, the money buys you collectibles for the full completion of the game. The game is long with many things to do such as uncover the real Truth and secrets that lie hidden within
Conclusion/ Final Score --------- 8.7
Assassin's Creed II is definitely what the first Assassin's Creed should've been but it's gone above and beyond what people originally expected. The changes in the game are franchise-breaking, the consistency of perfection is outstanding, the quality of the overall work that Ubisoft put into this game is clear. Assassin's Creed II will have something to offer for a variety of players whether it'd be casual or hardcore. The story is captivating, the world is lively, the combat is easy to pick up, and the game is long-lasting. This is Assassin's Creed II and you are an Auditore and like [your] ancestors before [you], [you] ARE AN ASSASSIN!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/02/09
Game Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 11/17/09)
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