Review by Zylo the wolf
"Don't miss this if you liked the first game, but you can live without this game if you didn't like the first."
I'm not going to spoil the ending of the first Assassin's Creed but it was clear that Ubisoft planned a sequel considering how the ending was in that game. But did they really think that the Assassin's Creed series would become their most successful franchise and actually top both Prince of Persia and Rayman? Instead of long boss battles, the series focus more on the perfect strike and then disappear from all who saw it. In fact it's strange if you are on a site like GameFAQs and haven't heard of these games since they are some of the most popular multiplatform games of this generation. Since I got this game with the first Assassin's Creed I couldn't wait to play and review this game as well, since it's supposed to be better.
If you haven't played the first game then you still don't have to worry since the game gives you a short summary of what happened in the first game. The main character is still Desmond Miles who has been kidnapped by the evil Abstrego Industries but he isn't thinking of staying there much longer. He and the nurse Lucy from the first game escapes from the building and meets two friends of Lucy. Shaun the historian and Rebecca the computer expert. Just like how Abstrego had an ANIMUS that could make Desmond relive the memories of one of his previous lives during the 3rd crusade era these guys got an updated version of ANIMUS which Desmond has to use to recreate the memories of another of his previous lives. This time it's in Italy during the Renaissance.
Our hero in this game is a young italian named Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Ezio is a typical young man who loves to do pranks and charm women. His father however is an assassin, and is wanted. The pope fears that one of his sons would take over as an assassin if he gets killed so both Ezio's father and Ezio's two brothers gets executed while Ezio manages to take some of his father's equipment and flee with his mother and sister. After joining forces with his uncle Mario (and yes this italian do have this line: It's me, uncle Mario!), Ezio now sets out on a journey to avenge his family and make the pope pay for what he did.
The first thing that you notice which makes this game different than the first is the health system. Altair in the first game would after a short while recover his lost health if he could stay out of trouble for a while. This is a trend that almost defines this generation in games, but Ubisoft have now made the opposite and now you have to visit a doctor and ask him to heal you. Also you don't increase your health by saving villagers, instead you have to buy better armor.
Yup in this game you earn money by either doing main or side quests. It's also possible to earn money by making your base bigger. You can use money to hire assistance, bribe citizens, to buy paintings, but for the most of the time you will spend your money to get better equipment or to repair your armor. You get different standard weapons as the game progress, but I highly recommend that you upgrade the weapons that you use the most.
Each city is full of guards that will attack you if they notice you. This is usually no problem if you aren't doing a mission because then you can just kill them, but your wanted level will rise which will make more guards look for you. Sadly you usually aren't allowed to get discovered when you are doing a mission, so you have to learn to blend in with the rest of the crowd in the city. The best way to do this is to slowly follow a crowd closely, or hire a couple of hookers and make the guards to busy to worry about their work. Another way is to find a safe place to hide and then quickly surprise an enemy so they die before they can scream for help.
You get a map for each city you are in but most of the map will be blank when you first visit a new city. So in order to get more of the map you have to find the tallest building in the area and then climb all the way to the top of it and take a good look of the view. The cities are much bigger in this game so it will help you a lot if you can try to get the whole map.
One of the flaws the first game had was that you had to do exactly the same thing 9 different times in order to kill the nine targets. In order to not do the same mistake again, Ubisoft have now removed some of your freedom to choose in what order you want to kill the targets but compensate this the plot is a lot more important in this game. The game is divided in different chapters and each chapter takes one year of the plot, so the main reason to continue to play this game is to see how Ezio ages from a teenagers to a mature man.
Even if history played a huge part in the first game it's even more obvious that Ubisoft are forcing us to learn even more history. I'm not sure how accurate the game is, but get a lot of interesting information about different "famous" italians when you meet one of them. The info might help some players to make them feel more like they actually are in Italy, but I'm one of those who refuses to let a game make me learn anything. Sometimes it almost feels like the game is sponsored by a travel agency or something. To be honest I don't care how old all the churches in the game actually are.
I'm not really sure how to explain the things in this game. The combat is kinda simple and doesn't allow you to perform a long combo so the fighting gets a bit boring after a while. Another problem that I actually had more in this game is the controlls. It seems like the R1 button does to many things at the same time and it's easy to mess up. Some of the main quests are long and you almost always have to make sure to not get noticed or you have to start from the beginning of the mission. Also I wish that the murders required more of planing to pull off. I can only think of two times where the game forced me to get creative.
I know most fans disagree with me but I also wish that you played more as Desmond Miles in the present. Even if there's a bigger plot in this game I think it focus way to much on Ezio and you almost forgets that you are actually playing as Desmond who is experiencing another person's memory. I liked how it was in the first game where you had no idea why you did all this.
Is the game worth your time? Yes if you got nothing else to play. Does it live up to all the praise it gets? Nope!
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 02/07/13
Game Release: Assassin's Creed II (PS3 Bundle) (EU, 11/20/09)
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