Making a sequel to any game is difficult, making a sequel to one of the best games of the last 3 years is a bit more of a challenge. A sequel should always transition well between the original game and it’s follow up, everybody hates picking up a sequel only to find that you have no idea whats going on. A sequel should tie up loose ends and plot holes, because once the developers’ work is over gamers have an eternity to dissect and dismantle their creation. Lastly, a sequel should improve on the original, leaving the player eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series rather than wishing that the developer had stopped with the original. Assassin’s Creed being as successful and complicated as it was left a lot of room for failure on the part of the sequel.
Fortunately, Assassin’s Creed II exceeded all expectations.
You start the game as Desmond, fans of the original will recognize Desmond as the modern day (/near future) character held prisoner by our good friends over ad Abstergo industries. The game starts off on a high note, putting you right into combat as Desmond escapes from Abstergo, and after escaping we head almost directly into the Animus and jumping into conrol of Ezio.
The original Assassin’s Creed put you in the shoes of a master assassin, giving you all the tools you need to assassinate your targets right off the bat. The goal of Assassin’s Creed to is instead to turn you INTO a master assassin.
Ezio’s journey to becoming a master assassin has to begin somewhere, and what better place to start than at his birth. Yeah, that’s right… you actually get to play through Ezio’s birth and yes… it’s weird. The game gets you accustomed to the control scheme using a series of minor tutorials throughout Ezio’s life, the most basic of which are learned as a baby.
I originally had reservations about how the game would translate into into a more modern setting, however from the very beginning it was blatantly obvious that Renaissance Italy was an ideal place for free running, the mechanics of which are far beyond that of the first game. While the free running mechanics have been greatly improved, there were definitely moments where the game’s camera reacted badly to certain situations, placing it in an awkward position for further maneuvering.
The sights, sounds, and feel of Renaissance Italy have been brought to life in this massive game, and when I say massive I really mean it. While not on the scale of GTA, Venice (One of 4 cities within the game) is just mind boggling. I spent a number of hours merely wandering the streets, drawing in everything that the cities have to offer.
Combat was actually a bit of a let down for me, that might be due in part to the fact that I hyped myself up about it long before it came out. The ability to disarm opponents is easily one of the most useful elements of the game, I’ve spoken to friends who refuse to use anything but unarmed for the entire game. But while the disarming is entertaining at first, the animations become rather repetitive fairly quickly. Though the animations are different for each of YOUR weapons most enemies carry the same 3 swords, 3 maces, 2 pole-arms, and 3 great-weapons. Also for your primary sword, the counter attack animations are identical to the original Assassin’s Creed.
Assassin’s Creed II puts you in the shoes of Ezio Auditore, avenging the death of your family and eliminating the members of a Templar conspiracy. The number of targets is nearly double that of the original game, and the missions leading up to the actual assassinations are diverse and varied. The plot of the game is far more “out there” than it’s predecessor, sometimes leaving you wondering “What the hell just happened?” Desmond actually sums it up pretty well towards the very end of the game, so pay attention for one of the funniest gaming comments I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing.
The monetary system introduced in Assassin’s Creed II is at first rather annoying, and having to go to a doctor to get healed never gets any less irritating. The game rewards you with money for nearly everything you do and if you take your time upgrading your city then obtaining the newest weapons and armor will become far more of a task than if you start upgrading it immediately. If you upgrade your city to full in the very beginning of the game then you’ll have so much money you won’t rightly know what to do with it all. By the end of my firstly playthrough I had every painting, weapon, armor piece, and nearly 500,000 floreans left over with nothing to spend them on.
The only real complaints I have towards the game stem from how overwhelming it was at the very beginning. The game map was one of the worst I’ve ever encountered, and attempting to navigate the city with all of the map markers on is more of a chore than anything else. Very early on in the game I learned to turn off all but the most necessary markers.
Overall this is a fantastic game that exceeded nearly every expectation. The plot is deep and will definitely keep you coming back for more. The free running mechanics are a vast improvement over the last game and allow for some truly amazing experiences, more than once my jaw was left hanging open from some unbelievable aerobatic maneuver (Jump off a 3 story building and simultaneously kill two people with hidden blades at the same time… you’ll see what I mean) While the plot and combat were both fantastic, the cities were honestly my favorite of the game, and after hours of exploration I still haven’t gotten tired of just walking around.
Pick up Assassin’s Creed II, you won’t be disappointed.
– Dr Strange Lulz