Review by DandyQuackShot
Requeiscat en Pace
So glad I waited to get in on the Assassins Creed series as Xbox Live Gold put Assassins Creed 2 out for download for free in July. I believe this series will be continuing for quite some time as it looks like the fourth game of the series (not including the many extra games out there) will still be based in the 18th Century. Assassins Creed 2 opens up more clues about what the game's story is really about but also carries the assassin family line down to Ezio Auditore who is a very fun and talented Assassin.
The present day setting finds Desmond in a hideout with a team of Assassins after escaping the Templars and they must seek answers concerning the Apple of Eden and The Vault artifacts. Desmond jumps into the Assassins' Animus to go back in time to relive his ancestor Ezio's rise to become the Prophet in the late 1400's in Italy. Ezio Auditore has a more in depth life to live out compared to the first Assassin in the series Altair. The story moves in synchronization from point to point as Ezio delivers death to those involved in a Templar plot to take power in Italy. Along the way you meet Leonardo Da Vinci who will help decipher the hidden Codex pages and help solve the mystery of where the artifacts are hidden.
Assassins Creed 2 is a very established game featuring a very detailed time period and setting and gives the new Assassin Ezio a more involved story than the previous Crusades version featuring Altair. You have to give Ezio a little leeway in besting the best of any rock climber as he is able to hop and lift himself to the top of every 15th Century attraction in Italy. Not only can Ezio scale buildings faster than Spider Man but he also does not tire out from running all over the place. Day and night you can run all over town and even recover your health. The towns (or should I call them city-states) have a lot to offer to distract you from the main quest in the game. In Assassins Creed 2 you can catch up on some Renaissance art by purchasing paintings from the local art dealers. A blacksmith and tailor will add some pizzazz to your weapons and clothing and the doctors offer knee replacement health potions.
Like the prior game, guards are out to get you and so are the Templars. The fighting style is mostly the same as you end up being surrounded by a gang of bad guys with swords but instead of them all going after you at once you can defend and slice your way through them all one by one. For added effect, there some heavily armored guards that can take a minute to get an advantage on but you never really have to worry about being killed by guards. The game is actually pretty easy in terms of conducting assassinations and continuing through the main quest of the game. The most challenging parts of Assassins Creed are definitely the races and quests to find the seals that unlock Altairs armor. You dont have to do the races though.
As the games story plays out I was not too impressed with the overall ending. It gets good and leads you to think there is more to the game than Assassins vs Templars but it does get a little too far out. I dont know how the next sequels treat the big reveal in this game but really there is not much to dive into and discover. However the game treats history well with brief biographies of the men involved in the game and supposedly in history. Some of the backgrounds may be a little doubtful but overall you are going to get an education by playing this game and thats what I liked most about Assassins Creed 2. Well, besides the fact that I got to play it for free.
Assassins Creed 2 features some great voice acting and music as well as excellent graphics and cinematics. The areas you explore take you back into time and into a believable period landscape. The only thing that detracts from exploring places like Venice and Tuscany are the very crowded streets of continuous people that seem to have nowhere to go at all times of day. Even at night nobody sleeps but walks around or talks or sits on the benches. Its not a big problem but then again a lot of the game cant be taken too literally. Werent any children back in the day either apparently. I was very impressed with the quality of the architecture of the time period brought back to life as well as the inclusion of original Renaissance paintings that you can purchase and read up on. The game spans a good two decades and all this time Leonardo Da Vinci never changed clothes. Other than that, the graphics are very well done and I wish I had spent more time learning about the buildings in the game.
Assassins Creed 2 has a lot of replay value to it. I spent some nights playing this game without ever getting back onto the main quest. I did manage to find and synchronize on top of all the view points in the game. There are also tons of treasure chests, races, beat ups, hidden items, assassinations, and messages to deliver in the game so it is easy to get distracted and go do these. You get tasked with also returning the city state of the Assassins into a bustling business so purchasing items and renovating shops in Ezios uncles town is a fun part of this game. All in all you will spend a lot of time playing this game.
Final Recommendation 9/10
I really took my time getting into the Assassins Creed series. Besides it, I have been very slow to pick up on the Gears of War series. But it is nice to take your time with a good series like Assassins Creed and then be able to jump into the next game without having to wait a year or longer to play the next sequel. There is a lot to the Assassins Creed series but what I like most is the focus on history and the concept of discovering your ancestors. Family history can be a very exciting thing to learn, and who knows, maybe your ancestor was an Assassin too. Go pick up Assassins Creed 2 if you havent already. Im pretty sure I am preaching to the choir here but late as I am this is still a great game.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Assassin's Creed II (US, 11/17/09)
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