Review by SR71halo
"AC2 is what a sequel should be, better than its predecessor in almost every way..."
The first Assassin's Creed, which came out 2 years ago, had such potential to be a great action/adventure game. Although it wasn't a bad game in any way, it fell short by its repetitive combat and missions (doing the same thing 9 times). When the second one was announced, I'll admit I wasn't too excited but after hearing such great things about it, I decided to give it a shot. Thank goodness I was worried over nothing, Assassin's Creed 2 is nothing like the first game, it has improved in almost every way.
Assassin's Creed 2 begins right where the first game left off, with Desmond in the room looking at the symbols on his wall. Lucy comes in and the two of them fight their way out of Abstergo and to a secret hideout. Here he meets Shaun and Rebecca, two more modern day assassin's like Lucy and (soon to be) Desmond. Using their own Animus, or Animus 2.0, Desmond enters to learn the ways of the assassin and to locate the pieces of Eden.
Instead of Altair in the first game, you will now be taking control of Ezio in Renaissance Italy. Ezio lives in Florence with his family and appears to be the member of a gang. After he is unable to save his father and brothers from hanging as part of a political plot, Ezio finds his father's assassin garment and tools. Ezio kills the man in charge of the hanging and escorts his sister and mother to his uncle Mario's villa and trains Ezio in combat. Mario tells about other people involved with his father's murder and so he sets off. You will encounter other allies along the way like Leonardo Da Vinci, who decodes pages of a codex for you and creates new equipment. The plot is very well done from beginning to end and Ezio is even better than Altair, in both character and background.
The missions have a lot more variety this time. You still have to assassinate but in much more interesting ways and there aren't any "get information and then kill him" but just many missions to accomplish, most of them different from one another. If you're not in the mood for a main quest there are many side quests as well such as assassination contracts or racing through checkpoints. The game can altogether take you somewhere between 15-20 hours to complete which is really good compared to most games today. This is probably the biggest improvement of all.
There are 6 assassin's tombs for you to complete, where you must complete a Zelda-like dungeon by solving puzzles or going through obstacles to obtain an assassin's seal at the end. Collect all 6 to unlock Altair's armor. There are also glyphs to find throughout the world that can only be found with eagle vision. When you find a glyph, you must complete a puzzle or riddle, that get increasingly harder, to unlock another bit of a video entitled "The Truth".
The combat has some similarities to the first game but they have added much more. First of all, you can fight with your hidden blades this time. They don't do as much but they're really fast. You can buy better swords and knives as you progress through the game. If you somehow ever lose your sword, you can go back to the villa and get it from the armory. You can use throwing knives like the first game but you can also poison your enemies (not sure if this will work while in combat) and even use smoke bombs to get away if the going gets tough. Your health doesn't recharge this time around but you can buy potions from doctors or just have them heal you. One cool new feature is you can disarm guards. It can be difficult at first but it's effective once you get the hang of it. The only problem is you can't keep the bigger weapons like axes or spear. Lastly, there's more guards in the game like bigger, stronger guards who carry bigger weapons and are hard to hit or there will be guards who are very agile and harder to hit.
Much like the first game, the world around you is filled with some top notch visuals but there are many more places to go this time. Instead of just 3 cities like in the first game, there are at least 5 and each of them are much more interesting to visit. While you are not in combat, you have a notoriety meter which will increase every time you commit a crime like killing innocence or stealing. When your notoriety is completely full, the guards will attack you on site. In order to lower your notoriety, you can tear down wanted posters, kill officials, or bribe heralds. You can also lose the guards by hiding in hay bales or even walking with a crowd of people.
Wandering the streets of Italy can be fun too. You can climb buildings like the first game and there are still view points to make your map easier to see. You can kill innocent people but if you kill too many, you will reload the last checkpoint. You must make money in this game to spend on new weapons at the blacksmith, heal yourself or buy potions from the doctors, change your clothing color or buy bags to carry more knives etc. or buy paintings to hang in your villa from the artists. How do you get money? You can do missions (main and side quests), steal money by bumping into them (won't get you much) or you can manage your own town by upgrading their value and increasing your profits. It's a cool way to make money but once you fully upgrade every building, there's not much else to do with them.
What else is there to be said about Assassin's Creed 2? Not only is it better than the first game in almost every way, it is surprisingly the best action/adventure game in a long time and one of the best games of the year. It has taken the first game, threw out everything that made it disappointing and turned it into something. If you were disappointed with the original Assassin's Creed, give this game a shot. If you love action games, then there is plenty of reason to love Assassin's Creed 2.
Real score: 9.5
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 04/05/10
Game Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 11/17/09)
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