Review: Assassin's Creed II
Review copy provided by the publisher
I am a white American male, and I am a minority. However, the color of my skin or the fact that I have a penis has nothing to do with why I am a minority. I am a minority simply due to the fact that I absolutely adored Assassin’s Creed. No, I’m not missing a 2 there; I enjoyed the first one IMMENSELY. I enjoyed it so much that I went around and killed every templar, I collected every flag, and I did everything possible in that game.
Needless to say, I was excited for the sequel. Well actually, excited is an understatement, I was so amped for this game I was nearly kicked out of my university’s library because I squealed with glee so loudly. But once again, I am the minority, many others were apprehensive upon hearing about the sequel because of Assassin’s Creed. The most common problem I heard about the original was that many people found it to be repetitive and uninteresting after a few missions. I can say with 100% honesty, that those problems are gone in this newest iteration. However, we need to talk a little bit about the story before we go into how Ubisoft fixed those problems.
In this sequel, you take on the the role of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a young nobleman and playboy. Ezio is initially unaware of his father’s profession and his family duties as an assassin, nor the fact that he is a descendant of Altaïr. As the story progresses, Ezio’s carefree world is shaken into a life of revenge. Over the next 23 years, Ezio will track down and eliminate the conspirators that had schemed against his family and you no longer have to collect information to do the assassination. You can run in there, bust the proverbial “cap” and you’re done. The assassination locations and styles vary in difficulty and range, it no longer feels like you keep doing the same thing over and over again.
In addition to the new protagonist, Ubisoft added or improved upon many things in AC2. There is now a monetary system, which you will use to purchase more weapons and armor, or update your villa. When rebuilding your villa, the money you put into it will increase the net worth of your villa, and after every 20 minutes in game you will be compensated for it. You can add value to your villa by adding actual pieces of Renaissance art, renovating buildings, or collecting some of the numerous items throughout the cities. Maybe updating your villa isn’t your thing; you could go to a few secret places throughout each city where you will be tested in puzzle solving ability to unlock a very rewarding armor set. Don’t like badass armor? That’s cool, maybe conspiracy theories are more your speed, you can go search for 20 pieces of “The Truth” which reveals a lot about the lore of Assassin’s Creed.
That’s not even touching on the updates Ubisoft made to the combat of AC2. Ohhh, the combat. Ezio can disarm enemies and wield many more weapons. I find the disarming combat strangely gratifying, as it is immensely fun to disarm a soldier carrying a 2 handed ax then seconds later send the blade directly into the former owners skull. Also, the countering and special kills are enjoyable as well. I do have a few gripes though, on one assassination mission, I was spotted by the target and we entered combat. He refused to strike at me, and every time I went to hit him, he would block it. This went on for around 5 minutes, before I started running away and killed him with throwing knives. This exemplifies my main problems with combat, firstly, the AI can be incredibly daft. The AI seems to be content with attempting to scare me off by staring at me. Secondly, it seems that every AI character can block EVERYTHING. And not only just deflect, but they counter you and it seems to go on for far longer than it should. Maybe I’m just impatient, but I want to unleash the fucking fury with a war hammer. Is that such a horrible thought that Ubisoft decided that every AI grunt can block every attack? Other than those 2 nuisances, the combat was very fun and rewarding.
The freerunning is, for the most part, well done. Ezio seems to gracefully sprint up boxes and swing on hanging plants, or sprint along the canals of Venice. If you find the right path in climbing up a building, he will scamper up the side very quickly. But if you find yourself more than a foot away from the next handhold, Ezio will stare at the handhold without moving. Oh, and don’t try jumping to it, more times than not you will find Ezio plummeting to his death after spending a few minutes trying to climb to a view point.
The other protagonist you will control is Desmond, who after a daring escape from Abstergo, finds himself in the care of the Assassins. I found myself liking Desmond a lot more this time around, mainly because of the fact that he’s no longer a huge pussy. You will run, jump and fight as Desmond but only a few times. Desmond only comes out of the animus on a few occasions, which I think for the story is a wise decision by Ubisoft.
Overall, I’d give this game a 5 out of 5 and recommend it to anyone. Ubisoft took what they did wrong in the original and either threw out the idea or refreshed it to become something wholly impressive. Other than my few complaints about the combat and climbing, this game destroys my cerebral cortex with it’s sheer awesomeness
- Title: Assassin’s Creed 2
- Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Release Date: November 17, 2009
- MSRP: $59.99
- Review Copy Info: DualShockers, Inc. was not provided with a review copy by the publisher, and purchased the game for review purposes.