Review by doctor_acula
Not groundbreaking - but still a cracking action/adventure.
I enjoyed, for the most part, the first game in this Assassin's Creed series. It was pretty graphically stunning for it's time, and helped popularize some new gameplay elements that have become a staple of the best video games of this generation.
So while it does, indeed, suffer from some minor flaws - most notably a wretched opening hour which goes from being intensely exciting to painfully dull very quickly (It's only once you don the famous outfit of the Assassins that things really start to pick up), on the whole, Assassin's Creed II is a success for Ubisoft.
Ezio himself is a perfectly likeable character - he is driven by his emotions, not by duty, which on it's own makes him easier to relate to than his ancestor, Altair. The enemies are convincingly menacing, and the allies are great fun to engage in conversation and missions with.
The missions themselves seem to have a slightly easier edge to them than the first game; you can finish off just about anybody by grabbing them and slicing their throat. The real challenge comes from the armoured guards, who are ferociously difficult to take down.
Graphically, not an awful lot has changed - a few tweaks here and there (not all of which are for the better - Lucy no longer resembles Kristen Bell) but otherwise solid visuals. They just pass the marker for not feeling outdated, but a hypothetical third game in this series would seriously have to revitalize the visuals, or risk losing that rich atmosphere that these two games have.
Assassin's Creed uses minimalist music - which is exactly the way it should be, in a game where you're essentially inside someone's brain. Sword clunks sound right, and every pitter patter of Ezio's feet is subtle and sharp. In general, they don't overdo it - there's no unnecessary noise - people don't scream and shout when you kill them, there's not a huge loud kerfuffle if you knock a box over. It's all perfectly balanced to be calm when Ezio is slipping silently through crowds, and just fast-paced enough to accompany high action scenes.
Plot wise, I enjoy what I've played so far. I'm not a fan of spoilers so I wouldn't ruin anything on here. (In all honesty though, I think Uncharted 2 has spoilt me for video game storytelling - just a little bit.)
Assassin's Creed II is everything you liked about the original, with a few new cool tricks thrown in to keep it fresh. Like I said - there's nothing groundbreaking in here; if you're looking for the next 'Game of the Year' I don't think it's this one. It's certainly worth buying, but you might want to trade in your original Assassin's Creed, as there's nothing it offered that this sequel doesn't.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 11/17/09)
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