Review by Bkstunt_31
"Better than it's predessor in every way."
Assassin's Creed 2 continues the story of bartender Desmond Miles, which was started in the first Assassin's Creed. Building on everything found in the first game, this sequel is truly a worthy addition to the growing series. I also highly recommend playing the first game, by the way, as it is required to understand what's happening in this one (at least read the story). Here's my take on Assassin's Creed 2:
In the first game, Desmond relived part of the life of one of his ancestor's, an assassin named Altair who lived during the time of the Crusades. he was more or less forced to use a machine called an animus by Abstego Industries ( who are modern-day templars) in order to uncover the assassin's well-kept secrets. After the events of the first game, Desmond is "rescued" from Abstego by an assassin mole, Lucy, who whisk's him away to a hideout where two other modern-day assassin's are working against Abstego. Here, in order to gather more information about what the templar's are after, they have Desmond enter an animus of their own design to relive a portion of another ancestor's past: Ezio, an assassin living in Italy during the time of the Renaissance.
The story and setting of the game borrows freely from history, of course, just like the first game. Ezio is living in Florence with his family until his father and two brothers are accused of treason by a family friend and murdered. Following his father's last wish, he don's his father's assassin's garb and ends up living with his uncle Mario while uncovering what his father's life was like and ultimately becoming embroiled in the middle of a templar plot, taking him from Florence and the surrounding countryside, to Flori, Venice, and even a little bit of Rome.
The story is a bit more focused than the first game, but still has quite a few twists and turns throughout. I also felt like the amount of back-ground information on people and places was a ton better, as each important person or place has a quick biography on it that you can read. I do wish there were more scenes outside the animus, but overall the story was excellent.
Game Play: 9/10
The game play is almost identical to the first game, with Ezio being controlled by "low" and "high" profile actions, which civilians and guards react to. You also have a notoriety meter, which fills up when you do certain things (like pick-pocketing or killing a target). The more it fills up, the more the guard become suspicious of you, and when it's full the guards will be on full alert and chase you on sight. Returning from the first game are the massive amount of hiding places such as hay stacks, where you can try and hide from your pursuer's. You can also get rid of your building notoriety by tearing down wanted posters, bribing town criers, or assassinating officials. Of course, over the course of the game, Ezio will collect a variety of weapons and techniques to use, leading to a bigger and bigger repertoire of moves, many of which help you remain incognito leading up to the big kills.
The story-based missions require a variety of actions, from collecting important items, helping allies, and of course, assassinations. When not pursuing story-line missions, you can undertake one of several optional missions, such as optional assassinations, courier missions, races, acquiring codex's, exploring assassin's tombs, and of course climbing to the top of several viewpoints in order to reveal more of the map. Most of the optional missions will pay you for your services, and you can use the money to buy armor, weapons, clothing, medicines, and art. you can also use the money to upgrade your uncle Mario's villa, which in turn increases tourism and generates a profit for Ezio every twenty minutes.
My biggest problem with the last game was it's repetitive nature, and Assassin's Creed 2 must have heard me, as they added in a lot more variety in not only the missions, but in the amount of weapons you have and the different types of enemy guards you will face. This time around, counter killing is not going to cut it in every situation, as you'll face higher-ranking guards that will always block you and other guards, usually wielding spears or two-handed swords, will laugh at your attempts to counter them. They also have agile guards that can run and climb just as fast as you as well as guards that will check hiding places in the area you were last spotted. Don't get me wrong, there will be several instances where you essentially have to do the same thing you did 15-20 minutes ago, but it's been much improved on.
Overall the game play is excellent, very similar to the first game with a lot of added options almost everywhere you look. I really enjoyed my time with Assassin's Creed 2.
Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Sure, the character models could use a little more work and the game has a few "pop-in" graphical problems, but compared to what's there these are very minor things. Character variety, animations, combat, and the cities are absolutely stunning. As I mentioned before, there are small stories behind dozens of unique locations throughout the game, covering many popular and well-known building, really immersing you into the location. Assassin's Creed was beautiful, but Assassin's Creed 2 is even better. You will absolutely love the graphics throughout the game.
The audio portion of the game was also improved from it's predecessor. I found the music itself more memorable than the first (I especially liked the piece that plays at Mario's villa), and the voice acting also caught my attention, since they added in quite a bit of Italian into the script (which makes the setting more realistic). Voice acting was also well done throughout the game (Ezio's actor was fantastic). Sound effects are fairly standard; one thing that I still enjoy from the first game is how the crowd reacts to what you do, and makes remarks about it.
As you know, there is quite a bit of stuff to do in the game, including assassination, courier, and racing side missions. And, of course, instead of flags from the previous games, you have feathers, and collecting them adds to the Villa's value as well as unlocking items (unlike those annoying flags). There are also a couple of down-loadable missions that you can purchase online which contain extra content, such as the Battle of Forli and the Bonfire of the Vanities missions (I've heard this content was cut from the main game due to time constraints. Rushed-released schedules strike again!).
Overall, Assassin's Creed 2 truly is better than it's predecessor, and id what any good sequel should do: maximize what's fun, add content, and cut out anything that wasn't fun or didn't work right. Any platforming fan will have fun here; I totally recommend picking up Assassin's Creed 2, you won't regret it. They are also planning on making Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood for the PS3/360 soon, which will feature Ezio (and is not in any way "Assassin's Creed 3"). Have fun and keep playing!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/13/10
Game Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 11/17/09)
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