Assassin’s Creed II Review
If you’ve ever played the first Assassin’s Creed, or even talked to someone who has played the first game in this series, you know what kind of issues it had. While the concept that the game brought to the table was new, innovative and fun, the game itself was boring and repetitive due to the lack of variety in what you were sent to do to progress through the game. Taking all of the negative feedback that they were given into account, Ubisoft went back to the drawing board and came up with a sequel worthy of carrying on the franchise’s name.
In Assassin’s Creed II, you continue to play in the real world as Desmond Miles, the character who you played as in the first game as well who was captured by the supposed enemies who ran the company called Abstergo. This time around, though, you escape with the researcher and now friend Lucy Stillman, who was by your side throughout Assassin’s Creed as well. At the hideout that she brings you to, you find a small group of people who are all assassins, such as yourself, and they need you to go back into the Animus once more in order to follow the story of another ancestor of his, and also an ancestor of the assassin you played as in the first game, Altaïr. When you rejoin the game in the past, it is the 15th century, and you are in the Italian Renaissance, playing as Ezio Auditore da Firenze.
The controls of this game are very similar to the original, so those who have played the original will be able to pick up this one very easily. Unlike the first game, though, there have been a few changes to the way that you interact with Ezio, and how Ezio interacts with the world around him. The health in this game is not fixed at a certain amount as it was in the first game. By collecting codec pages throughout the game and bringing them back to Leonardo da Vinci, you are able to increase the maximum amount of health that you can have. Also added to the HUD is a new “Notoriety” meter. Instead of having to guess by looking around you at when the guards are unhappy with you, you are now able to see a bar which shows how aware of you the people around you are. This is a very helpful addition to the game and it works well also. There are also a few additions to the mini-map which makes it easier to locate many of the objectives around you.
One of the main things you’ll notice is the immense amount of upgrades that you can do to Ezio. To build upon the first game, many different weapons have been added, from a dagger, to the twin hidden blades, and in the later parts of the game you gain access to a limited ammo single shot gun. While it may seem like a ridiculous weapon that should have no place in this era, it is not a weapon that you can just pull out and fire instantly, as it takes some time for it to load. Speaking of upgrades, after you get past the beginning of the first city, you are taken to another city owned by an uncle of yours, who happens to be named Mario. Using the money that you earn throughout the game, you can purchase upgrades for your city and your uncle’s Villa. By doing so, the items that you purchase from your city become lesser in price, and you also earn more money. Every 20 minutes, an income is earned from your city which you can go back and collect at any time. Unfortunately, it is very easy to upgrade your Villa, and you can find yourself with an overabundance of money which can help you easily purchase everything in the game. While this takes away from the fun of earning it yourself, it does take just a little bit to be able to upgrade your Villa, so you won’t be overpowered in the beginning of the game.
One of the major issues with the first game was the lack of variety in the side missions that you could perform. Ubisoft addressed this issue this time around and added a handful of different optional side quests that would earn you a little more spending money, and some trophies/achievements as well. While the View Points are back, Assassination Contracts, Races, Beat-Up Events and Courier Assignments have been added to the mix. The most puzzling aspect of the game, though, is the Assassin Tombs, which you must solve in order to unlock Altaïr’s armor, which is the max armor in the game. These provide an ample challenge, but still aren’t impossible to solve on your own.
As you may expect, this game is not perfect. While the controls are very easy to learn, and climbing tall buildings is easy to do, there are times where you’ll hit snags. Sometimes it will look like you can continue upwards, but you’ll realize that you can’t, and one wrong button press will earn you a flying leap straight into the pavement below. While these issues can sometimes be obnoxious, overall the game is solid, and does a great job of putting you into the shoes of Ezio. And of course, you can’t forget how beautiful this game is. Video games have come a long way in the past few years with the addition of high definition, and games nowadays continue to shine as good as ever. When on a View Point, the amount that you can see is excellent, giving you a real idea of how big each city is. And you will find out that as the game moves on, the cities get bigger and bigger, giving you a very large area to explore if you are looking to acquire 100% in the game.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed II does an excellent job of following up on the shortcomings of it’s predecessor, but as you may have heard, there is still to be an Assassin’s Creed III to finish out the series in a trilogy. Without spoiling anything, the end of this game leaves you with some excitement, and only a slight idea of where you are headed to next, but it’s enough to keep you excited enough for the next one, even though cliffhanger endings are not a wonderful thing to sit on. And there is also some replay value in this game, especially if you are interested in earning all of the achievements/trophies, but, some of them are difficult, so you may want to look for a guide of some kind if you are interested in collecting all 100 of the feathers, which don’t show up on your mini-map, even if you buy the treasure maps.