Assassinís Creed 2
Iíll kill you in a park, Iíll kill you in the dark
Posted 3 years ago By - JD Speedy
This is not a place I thought I’d be two years ago. Assassin’s Creed was released to a mixed bag of praise and revulsion. Though much of the negative criticism was later credited to review-fatigue in an overloaded November, there were a lot of legitimate problems with AC. While the gameplay was novel, being one of the first parkour-centric open world games, the concept was not fully realized. There were issues with a repetitive mission structure, some jankiness in the controls and an unlikable protagonist.
But releasing alongside fewer titles in 2009, with a ton of changes and an even more ambitious design, Assassin’s Creed 2, on paper, seems like the perfect underdog sequel. The game learned from its mistakes the first time around and fought its way back to the top of the pile.
In a mere two years, Ubisoft Montreal has managed to dramatically refine the core gameplay from Assassin’s Creed. Every single part of the game has been revamped, tweaked and updated to the point that it really bears little resemblance to the first game.
For starters, there are new assassination styles that really broaden the game’s strategies. You can kill from inside a pile of hay, by reaching up from underneath a ledge or by jumping down from above. They’re easy to execute and the animations make them feel dynamic and just plain awesome. And that’s not even getting into the evolution from one hidden blade to two or any of the other unlockable weapons you get later in the game.
Travel has also been improved in AC2. Alongside cheap fast travel between cities (no more long horse rides required), it’s a hell of a lot easier to make your way around the cities. The guard AI seems more human and the gameplay a bit fairer both on the ground and on rooftops. In the first game, it was relatively hard to get anywhere without climbing. If you so much as nudged a random pedestrian, you quickly incited the wrath of the entire district’s armed forces. In AC2, it’s much easier to blend in with passersby or lower your notoriety by taking down wanted posters, bribing town criers or killing lower ranking officials. It may be a small change, but it makes all the difference, as the game still focuses heavily on stealth and low-profile kills.
I was also surprised how much I enjoyed the addition of an economy to AC2. When I heard that there would be money involved, for upgrading your weapons, armour and home base, I was more than a little concerned. It just seemed like a boilerplate open world game feature; something better suited to a GTA or Saints Row game. But it really works. The physical upgrades to your villa actually earn you greater sums of Florins, which are added to your treasury every 20 minutes. You will have to return to the villa to collect your earnings, however, but with fast travel it’s painless and it’s worth doing often, since your chest will cap out at an, albeit upgradeable, max amount.
The collecting side missions have also seen a marked improvement from the frustrating and nonsensical flags in AC. The codex pages are actually marked on your map as well as the six Assassin’s Tombs (which you have to finish to unlock one of the best upgrades in the game). As a diversion from the combat and assassination heavy gameplay of the main story arc, questing for the six assassin tomb seals is a nice change of pace. Basically, you should think of these locales as some of the most detailed, gorgeous and expansive interiors in the game. You get to explore some epic crypts and churches with almost no combat involved.
Ubisoft managed to capture in these very rare sequences everything I used to love about Prince of Persia but executed with much less ambiguity as to which path you need to take and without the weak combat. I could go honestly continue to elaborate on all the things I loved about the gameplay decisions in AC2, but I’m worried that it will leave you with the impression that it is a perfect game. That’s really not the case. You’ll still sometimes begin climbing an object when you didn’t want to or get hung up on a random piece of geometry like you did in AC.
Sometimes Ezio will take the wrong path, or jump to his death even when you think you know where he’ll jump to. But this really wasn’t a gamebreaker for me because it didn’t happen very often and because of the forgiving save system. After almost any important or seemingly unimportant action, including mid-mission checkpoints, buying new gear and finding collectables, the game will do a quick save. You needn’t worry about losing progress over a misstep or dying, because, like in AC, you will just ’desynchronize’, which just restarts you close to where you died, with all of your stuff intact.
The main character in AC2 is also a lot more relatable than Altair was. Ezio is a bit of a smarmy ladies’ man when you first meet him, but that helps endear you to him in a sort of Italian Nathan Drake way. The plot progresses, at first, fairly predictably, establishing impetus for his transformation into an assassin, but it quickly devolves into a plot as ridiculous and engrossing as you could want from this series. Desmond also plays a much larger role than in AC, and you won’t just be walking around a small room having conversations this time. I’ll just leave it at that to avoid spoilers.
Graphics and Sound
If anything could top the shock at just how good it feels to control Ezio and just how much better the story is than AC, it has to be the size and grandeur of AC2. The scope of the bright and colourful Italian city-states is so much bigger and more vibrant than the drab locales from the first game. You can overhear conversations, you’ll get shoved by guards when they can reach you and you’re running around; it just feels vast and breathing with life.
The soundtrack for this game is also one of my favourites of the year. I’ve been listening to the orchestral tracks on my iPod because they so perfectly evoke the mood of the game.
As I’ve previously stated, there is just so much to see and do in AC2, it’s absolutely unreal. Obviously, you won’t spend 80+ hours in the game as you would with an online competitive shooter or a giant Bioware RPG, but for the curious, there is an immense landscape to explore full of a myriad challenges.
The addition of the assassin’s tombs and villa upgrades make it a fluid process. You won’t notice the hours you’ve lost until you see the sun peeking up through the slats in your blinds having spent another night traversing renaissance Italy.
I couldn’t be more pleased at the progress that Ubi Montreal made and the completely unabashed way they took the criticism to heart of the first AC. They’ve lovingly crafted a set of gameplay systems that not only improved on their first entry, but also rendered it completely obsolete.
They’ve reinvented the wheel here, if that wheel is environmental exploration stealth games, and they’ve set the bar for any game that claims to include anything resembling this set of qualities. It’s got the scope of a GTA, some of my favourite stealth ever in a video game and two memorable protagonists wrapped up in an epic plot. It’s got me starving for the next entry and they haven’t even announced that formally yet. Assassin’s Creed 2 is an early Christmas gift I won’t soon forget.
+ The scope of the world has gotten larger
+ Brighter, more detailed and better looking than AC
+ Assassinís Tombs are the perfect diversion
+ Two frigging hidden blades!
+ Guard AI is markedly improved
+ Incredible soundtrack
+ Did I mention the second hidden blade?
+ Incredible variety and amount of content
- Occasional direction-based hiccups allow you to jump to your death
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Release Date : 2009/11/17
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Ubisoft Montreal
Category : Action-Adventure
ESRB : M
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
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8.7 / 10