Review by BadFortuneAndre

"A vast gameplay improvement over the original"

Review: Assassin's Creed 2 (PS3)
By BadFortuneAndre

Introduction:
Assassin's Creed was one of those weird games that you aren't quite sure what to think about. The graphics were pretty, the core gameplay mechanics were a blast, but that's about where the fun stopped. The flow of the game was jagged and repetitive, while the sci-fi “twist” dragged down the more interesting aspects of the story. Read on to find out if the sequel falls into similar pits.

Presentation and Graphics:
Is it even relevant anymore to mention how pretty a current-gen PS3/360 game looks? Well Assassin's Creed 2 looks pretty, and I'll just leave it at that. As with any free-roaming game, you'll note that there is quite a bit of object pop-in while you're moving quickly. I was pleased to see that this was not the case with textures as well.

Anyway, Ubisoft did a solid job recreating Italy in a gamespace. The location and accuracy of landmarks, the use of the Italian language, the classical paintings you can buy; all these things build a very nice atmosphere that will make you feel like you've actually been to Italy.

The interface is simple to follow and clean to look at. The “weapon wheel” that allows you to select something from your inventory works quite well. It's definitely a lot easier to leave the game when you're done playing than it was in the first Assassin's Creed.

Story:
I'm going to assume you've played the first game. Now, if the sci-fi real life portion of the story is what turned you off to the franchise, then you likely won't be able to stomach the sequel any more than you could the first game. I know that the split storyline in Assassin's Creed is a bit of a hot topic, and I think it's time I weigh in.

The problem with the modern day characters is that they are flat, 2d, unnecessary plot devices. It just seems to me as if the writers thought that us modern gamers wouldn't be able to recognize and relate to the ancient times characters of Altair (the first game) or the new main character, Ezio. I think that we can all agree here that when a writer has no faith in his audience, the whole thing is botched right from the start.

Our new hero, Ezio, is -very- relatable and interesting. His story is one of revenge, family, and conspiracy. It takes place in a pivotal moment in human history and we experience that alongside Ezio. I'd go as far as to call him one of the more interesting and dynamic game characters in recent years. The point I'm getting at here is that Ezio's story is a game in itself, there is no need for the modern day nonsense that just makes the plot turn stupid in the last hour of the game. Compared to Ezio, modern-day Desmond is a wooden plank with a smiley face drawn on.

Gameplay:
The same basic mechanics from the first game return for another go. And it's not a bad thing, either. The free-running remains largely unchanged. Although, I will say it's quite nice to have access to pretty much every free-running and combat moveset right at the start of the game. It was pretty stupid in the first game where you had to “learn” to tackle and what-not.
The improvements to the original don't end there. Remember how repetitive the game was? You would grind the same three side-quests and then assassinate someone, rinse and repeat. Assassin's Creed 2 features an almost GTA-inspired flow which has you going from mission giver to mission giver, expanding the story with each mission completed.

There are side-quests, but they don't really feel like a grind this time (mostly due to not being required). Once again there are tons of collection side-quests as well, and this time they will net you actual usable items rather than just an achievement/trophy.

One new feature is that you can build up your private villa to make money, then use said money to buy different weapons and armor for Ezio. This feature worked out quite well and the variety of weapons to choose from was larger than I expected. People have complained that you make so much money from the villa that it kind of negates the cost of shopping, but honestly I didn't have a surplus of cash until the last fourth of the game.

The best way to sum it up would be to just say that Assassin's Creed 2 gives you a lot to do. You've got your story missions, your collectable statuettes and feathers, your viewpoints, beat-up events, races, deliveries, platforming-puzzle tombs, and probably some other stuff I can't remember. Every single thing I mentioned there gets you a reward, too. At times midway through the game I found myself telling friends that the game was nearly an RPG content-wise.

Conclusion:
To be honest there's not a whole lot of reason to replay Assassin's Creed 2. You do get to continue playing after you beat the story, so you may want to finish up all the side quests, find all the treasure chests, etc. I did this, and I probably clocked close to twenty hours on the game. For an action/adventure, you'll note that's pretty lengthy. Therefore, it definitely delivers on the sixty bucks you'll throw down for it. Just don't let the stupid sci-fi ending get to you too much.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/11/10

Game Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 11/17/09)


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