Review by Neversmile
The country of Italy should be proud.
The game is presented to the players with an extremely deep storyline continuing from the first game that often times question religion and even life. Think of it as The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons made into a game. Ironically Leonardo Da Vinci actually IS in this game and he plays an important role moving the story forward on several occasions. What other game can say that?! The game has a sort of 'swagger' that many other games don't have. Stemming from an original game, with minimal money to work with, this game delivers and impresses putting other games with a higher spending capacity to shame. The story is well written but there are missions and objectives that sometimes get confusing as to the reason why you must do them. You avenge your fathers death early in the game yet . . . you continue to kill the men above him because they are responsible in some confusing way. You continue to do this to the point where your final mission is to the kill the pope!? The game isn't clear cut in its purpose for certain missions at times. Assassin's Creed II takes place in mid 1400's and I'm more then certain that if someone from that time period were able to play this game they would commend the creators for the accuracy of the environments and historical events. Since the game does deal with the past heavily, there are points when the game will make you feel stupid if you don't know your history, which is discouraging to an extent.
The environments are extremely gorgeous. Italy has never looked more amazing. Monuments, buildings and landscapes are extremely faithful to the real life counterparts. The country of Italy should be proud. Characters on the other hand feel stiff. There are several graphical errors that keep this game from being one of the best of all time. Rag doll physics have never been a preference of mine and this game serves as the definition of why I do not like it. Camera angles during third person sequences are as they should be but in-game cutscenes are slightly unenjoyable when the NPCs become apart of the scene unexpectedly. What up with that? As much as I love the beautiful environments I feel as though they should have used some of that time towards character movements, models and physical features. Important characters looks are forgettable and for the most part seem as if they were just 'part of the crowd'. Often times I could not spot my assassination target because everyone pretty much had robes and beards. In my opinion, character modeling is more important than environments, I mean there are people who still enjoy NES games- the thing we all remember most are the characters and their features, not environments. As a gamer, all developers need to tell me is that the game takes place in Italy and I'll believe it- dont let main character models suffer from unappealing attires and graphical errors. There are miscues with weapons such as being able to cut the throat of an enemy with a hammer and a broom. You WILL run into graphical errors but after years of playing on older systems I am forgiving of any mistakes that occur.
This game surprisingly has an extremely awesome soundtrack. I was pleasantly surprised to find the music to be nothing short of amazing. Nothing is better than when a game provides songs that you can claim as your favorite. The music really sets the tone and suits the game well. Voice acting has improved from the last game- but if you havent played the first Assassin's Creed then the voice acting is simply average. Ezio's voice matures through the game in a subtle impressive manner making it easier to feel as though you are growing with the character. I've played a lot of games and I can't recall a time when I could notice the main character's voice maturing with age- very impressive. Sound effects are . . . there. A sword hitting a sword makes the sound it should but nothing extravagant.
Gameplay is fun. I dont believe there is any other game that emulates climbing and scaling buildings in a better manner than Assassin's Creed II. Period. Running across rooftops is easy and simple. Assassinations are somewhat tricky but that is expected. Every assassination requires a different approach which encourages the player to use their brain for once. Controls outside of the main character; such as horse riding, ferrying gandolas, and maneuvering flying machines are terrible but thankfully the game doesn't require the player to become good at it. The fighting system is for the most part mediocre but at times entertaining. It is not the main focus of the game and you are not thrown into situations where you must fight more than twice. The fighting system is lacking but the game is called Assassin's Creed- not Fighter's Creed (or something along those lines). So if you assassinate your target successfully, as you should, you can go the whole game without partaking in unnecessary fights.
Lasting Appeal: 8.8/10
The games lasting appeal mostly takes place OUTSIDE the game where you talk about it to others. The game is pretty long and not something that can be beaten in a day. If you're a collector, you'll be at this game for a while. After you've completed the game though, there isn't much to do besides acquire feathers, or deliver letters, or race around the city. The game will leave you wanting more and sadly there is no more unless you buy the DS counterpart, which is where the game continues- but the gameplay simply isn't the same- literally. There is no two player sequences, you cannot replay missions and you cannot start a new game with bonuses. With all graphical errors aside this game is still better than most future games and is very unique for an original design and idea.
- Luis Henriques
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 11/17/09)
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