Review by Alec86

"A very good game marred only by DRM."

The first Assassin's Creed was regarded as one of the most innovative games back in 2007, but it was not without its flaws. Although it had an interesting storyline, the gameplay was a bit repetitive and the enemy AI was pretty stupid. While in Assassin's Creed II, Ubisoft improves many of the gameplay elements of the first game with more varied missions, improved AI, an emotional storyline and a deeper connection to the lead character. It also has that controversial DRM system which unless you have a constant internet connection, you can't play the game.

The story picks up immediately after the first game left off. With the help of a modern-day assassin Lucy Stillman, the protagonist Desmond Miles escaped from his captors, Abstergo Industries. Lucy then takes him to the assassin's secret hideout which has a more advanced Animus device and asks him to relive the life of another ancestral assassin, Ezio Auditore da Firenze who lived during the Renaissance era of late fifteenth century in Italy so that he may learn the assassin skills through the Bleeding Effect of Animus. The game then follows the story of Ezio from his early life to the journey of becoming an assassin to seek revenge after his father and two brothers were hanged. The early part of the game concentrates on Ezio learning the skills of assassins through various missions which serve as tutorials about controls and gameplay mechanics. Along the way, numerous real historical figures, places and events will be perfectly integrated into the storyline making it more impressive than the first game.

In order to progress through the story, Ezio have to visit marked spot on the map, watch the cutscenes and accomplish the laid-out objectives. The mission goals are more varied than the first game. Other than assassinating someone, Ezio will have to deliver letters, beat up cheating husbands or escort somebody. Completing these missions will reward him with money which he can use to buy new weapons, armor, treasure maps, medicines or even upgrade the villa. Money can also be tossed around to create a distraction in crowds or while running from guards. Aside from assassin's standard hidden blades, there are a lot more variety of weapons in Assassin's Creed II such as maces, spears, smoke bombs and even a pistol. Ezio can also hire courtesans, thieves and mercenaries to help him with his objectives. Unlike Altaïr, Ezio can swim too.

The combat system in Assassin's Creed II has more depth than the original. In combat, Ezio can perform counter kills, disarm opponents and steal their weapons or pick up dropped weapons. The animations for each finishing moves are more fluid and awesome. But still, the enemy AI doesn't improve much. The enemies are still as dump as ever and will rarely attack Ezio two at a time. You can complete the entire game with just the hidden blades.

Assassin's Creed II utilizes the same engine as the first game, but it looks more polished and more detailed than the first game. There is a full day/night cycle, reflections and lighting effects on water and more detailed building types. Movement and combat animations are really superb and NPCs reactions are also fluid and natural. The music fits the game really well and the voice acting is solid. All in all, there are only a few games which are as good as Assassin's Creed II in graphics and sound department.

Overall, Assassin's Creed II is a solid open-world action adventure game with plenty of side missions and will hook you up for many hours. It is one of those sequels which takes all the good points and corrects the flaws of the original. Sure, the DRM is a real pain, but if you can meet that requirement, you should buy this wonderful game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 05/25/10

Game Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 03/09/10)

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