Review by Escaperer
"Assassins Creed 2 - The Sequel of all Sequels"
Assassins Creed 2 is one of the best games I have ever played. Period. Ubisoft has truly surprised me. They took feedback on the original game and fixed its many flaws and made the overall game that much better. Now, onto the review.
Gameplay - 9/10
As soon as you start the game, if you've played the original, you will be familiar with the controls. That's not a bad thing. The controls in the first game were fluid, they are fluid in this game as well. Climbing buildings is a breeze, there is a lot of control in how you do it and a few special moves as well. The assassinations are carried out much more smoothly. Long gone are the times when you had to gather intelligence before every assassination. The game may have taken a more linear path in terms of the story, but it makes it a lot less repetitive.
Combat, in general, works almost the same. It was a bit of a disappointment. Counters and Dodging are still the same, though you're going to be doing a lot more of the latter this time around. The beginning guards will still easily fall for counters, but some more heavily armed guards will only taken out by dodging, as you can't counter their attacks. The counters are basically the same, as in there are no real new moves. If you wield a sword, you will basically do the same counters as in the first game. If you wield a short sword, the same applies.
You do get a few new weapons that are quite nice, though not really used much. I will admit dual hidden blades are awesome, and air assassinating two guards at once looks absolutely amazing. To make my point, combat did get a bit of flavor added to it, but in essence stayed the same.
Health, on the other hand, has been modified. No longer will you gain back your health by simply letting time pass. Now, you must go visit a doctor in order to be able to heal to full health. No worries though. You can also carry medicine supplies in your pouch. Simply visit a doctor and get some medicine, and you can use it anytime to regain precious health.
One of the most exciting new developments is that you can finally swim, which leads annoying deaths to water a thing of the past. A simple yet very needed change.
The side quests as I mentioned before, are gone. In their place are little side missions completionists will strive for. Some of them require you to beat an unfaithful husband, some of them require you to race thieves across a city, and some will require you to deliver mail to someone. These are pretty bland, so thankfully, Ubisoft also included Assassins Tombs and Assassination Contracts.
Assassins Tombs serve a purpose. If you clear all six, you will be able to done on Altair's armor (the great assassin of the first game) which, frankly, looks totally awesome. The tombs themselves are very Price of Persia-esque. There is a lot of jumping and climbing involved, along with a few guards in the way. It's a good change of pace from all the assassinating and killing, so you will be able to enjoy these if you don't do them all at the same time.
Assassination Contracts are yet another way to pass the time. These open up after a certain point in the game, and have you kill off random people. Nothing really groundbreaking, but if you do them you get a nice sum of Florins.
Yes, that's right, AC2 has implemented a monetary system, and it actually works quite well. Florins are used to buy all sorts of things, such as weapons, armor, paintings, medicine, dyes for your clothing, and upgrades for your medicine pouches and throwing knife pouches. Weapons don't really matter all that much, however armor does. Better armor will give you more health, so start saving early. Armor can also break, so you will have to repair it regularly.
Paintings are used to improve your villa. Yes, you have a villa. By improving the villa you are also improving the small town that lies right below it. This means more people are going to come to this town (15th century tourism at its best) which means the shops all around (that you can upgrade as well) will net a higher income which you can collect. This is a good source of Florins and is the reason you will be able to buy high end weapons and armor later in the game.
Dyes for your clothing are merely aesthetic, but it is nice to have some level of customization, along with being able to earn an achievement for the 360.
Blending has been implemented much better this time around. You can blend in any group of people just walking along by stepping in the middle of them. Sometimes blending is a must in terms of stealth missions, and it has been done much better than in the first one. Along with blending, comes the hiring of thieves, girls, and armed militia to help you distract guards when you need to get past them. The choices between on how to complete a particular task have been increased. For example, if you're tailing an enemy, and he goes past some guards who are keeping an alley off limits, you have plenty of choices. A. You can scale the building next to them and get past them that way. B. You can hire some girls to go distract the guards by using their, erm, charm. C. You can go ahead and silently assassinate them if there aren't too many.
Collectibles have also been improved. Instead of finding flags and killing Templar's, you will now have to collect 100 feathers, which is a lot easier than AC. If you collect all 100, you will also get a nice reward, so there is actual incentive to do it.
All in all, gameplay has been an improvement in AC2, though it still holds a few flaws, mainly in combat.
Graphics - 10/10
The visuals in this game are stunning. The cities are amazingly detailed, Florence and Venice are especially beautiful. The landmarks of the major cities are very noticeable, and if you have been to any of the cities included in the game you will recognize the buildings immediately. Ubisoft spared no time in researching how the city should look, and you will sometimes go off exploring just to see all of those amazing sights.
The main character, Ezio, is also very detailed. Most of the characters look fairly good, though some more polishing could have been done on cut scenes. Textures are well done, and the whole look of AC2 is impressive. One of the coolest sights graphics wise has to be when you climb out of the water, Your clothes look completely soaked and drops of water can be seen falling off of them. I noticed this every time I got out of the water and it never ceased to amaze me just how detailed it was.
Sound - 8/10
Sound was never the strong point of AC, especially due to the citizens commenting every time Altair was doing something stupid, as in scaling buildings. This time around you will hear a lot less chatter from said civilians, which is a good thing.
The music itself is pretty light-hearted during the early missions, and a lot more serious as the game progresses. The voice overs are done well, but past cut scenes, you can easily put on your favorite band in the background and ignore the in-game sounds/music.
Nothing else was really to be expected from the sound, it is about as good as it gets for an Action/Adventure game.
Story - 10/10
By far more meaningful than AC. While Assassins Creed focused on Altair's story, this time around Desmond and the present time story is much more relevant. It blends well with that of Ezio, and comes together very well in a pretty breathtaking ending. I wont spoil anything here, but the story picks up right from where AC left off, and immerses you from the first moment of the game.
Codex Pages are also a big part of the story. They are entries left by Altair that our hero, Ezio, collects, in order to learn more about Pieces of Eden and Altair's life itself. It's a good addition to the story, and plays a fairly large part later on in the game, so you will want to look out for these.
Another big part of the story is "the truth". You can learn "the truth" by finding 20 glyphs which are located around famous landmarks in Italy and by solving the corresponding puzzles. The game will let you know more about this, so I won't spoil anything.
All in all, the story is worthy of a motion picture, and you will be left craving for more, I guarantee you that.
Overall - 9/10
A very well polished game with an immersing story line and a few flaws that keep it from being a masterpiece. A game that will probably stay in my Top 3 for a long, long time. A must buy.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/30/09
Game Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 11/17/09)
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