Review: Assassin's Creed II
Posted 24 November 2009 - 12:37 AM
Live by the Creed
Assassin's Creed II takes you on a journey through Italy's 15th century history, like the first Assassin's Creed the Animus is used to transform Desmond into the memories of his late ancestor. The Animus 2.0, an upgraded version allows him to enter the memories of of his ancestor Ezio Auditore da irenze where you experience the events from the birth of Ezio through to him being trained as an assassin and beyond.
From the moment you step foot in 15th century Italy the history just screams at you, from the amazing aerial views to the busy streets where people are going about their daily business, everything has been done in great detail and there's a great amount of history to be learned. In fact you first realise this when the city of Florence is built up bit by bit, building by building in front of your eyes in a graphical master piece, before placing you in a brawl on the city's streets.
Assassin's Creed II is an open world, free roam game, where you travel through various cities and regions of Italy, such as Florence, Tuscany and Venice, choosing when to do the main missions (known as sequences) and the massive amount of side missions on offer, such as assassinations, races, assassin tombs to discover, beat ups, codex's to collect and feathers to collect.
The missions this time are more varied than Assassin's Creed, which was criticized for being too repetitive; this time for example you may start off on an assassination mission, which will then turn into a chase. This they succeeded with as there are a lot of different types. There are over 200 missions and side missions to complete, making this game into more of an RPG length game than an action/ adventure game.
In fact the game does have RPG aspects to it, not only can you buy different weapons, upgrade armour and dye your outfits different colours, but you also have a stronghold from which you can upgrade the shops and trades, restore mines, churches and even brothels to ensure you have a regular income and to increase the value of the stronghold. This also becomes a refuge for his mother and sister Claudia, who after the arrest of his father and brother escape to the country side. Wanting vengeance for the hanging of these two which follow Ezio goes on a mission to find those who are responsible and assassinate them.
It is also from this stronghold Ezio is trained in the art of combat, you can return whenever you like to practise and he is taken through the art of dodging, the ability to disarm an enemy and several others which will assist you when fighting. In fact these become extremely important whilst in combat and although it is possible to defeat many of the enemies just by slashing them or using your fists, some of them require the disarm function in order to defeat them, as hitting with a weapon will make no effect. It becomes second nature as you go through the game which to attack with a weapon, which to disarm and which require you to dodge. The combat system has a lock on button, which enables you to concentrate on one enemy at a time, although several others will attempt to attack you whilst you are concentrating on one, so you need to be on your guard when faced with a horde. There's a good choice of weapons and armour, ranging from swords, daggers, butchers knifes to smoke bombs and Ezio's hidden blade, which Leonardo Da Vinci provides him with. The hidden blade is upgraded to a poison blade, which poisons the victim, who then goes about what they were doing until eventually they lose their balance and go into a berserk mode attacking everyone around them, eventually they die, but this causes the guards to investigate, allowing Ezio the time to escape the scene.
Leonardo Da Vinci plays a big part in this game, not only does he help Ezio in his quests, but he also upgrades his hidden blade, decrypts codex and in one part Ezio is able to use his flying machine to aid him in one of the missions. Other forms of transport include the gondolas and horses.
Along with the jumping from roof top to roof top and certain other jumps from platforms, some of which may remind you of Tomb Raider, Ezio now has the ability to swim and to use gondolas as a big part of the game is in Venice, which is surrounded by water. Not only can swimming be a useful way of getting around Venice, but it's also a way of becoming notorious, as Ezio can dive under water to get out of guard's sight.
Pick pocketing citizens, jumping around, assassinating people or running fast can attract the attention of the guards and these will come after you. The game's notoriety system shown in the HUD alerts you when you become recognizable, filling the block in red and the bar flashes, this is the time to jump into a bale of hay, tear down wanted posters or quickly jump high to get out of sight of the guards. The guards are also on the roofs and will warn you are in the wrong place and start firing arrows or stones from the ground at you. The object is to become notorious in able to continue without being chased, in which case the notoriety system will return to white. Guards can also be distracted by throwing coins, which attract the citizens to gather it causing the guards to take a look.
Being an assassin game there is a fair bit of stealth, which involves you keeping under cover and sneaking around during missions. You can hire groups of girls to hide within, who will follow you providing cover or you can mingle within the crowds.
The Assassins' tombs, which are secret areas and a side missions will delight those who love Tomb Raider or Prince of Persia. They provide deep puzzle solving and a lot of acrobatic skills to complete.
Assassin's Creed II includes a map, which is accessed at demand whenever you need it, you can place markers which will show up on the mini map in-game. In order to unlock the map, view points are scattered throughout the regions, these must be climbed and sequenized. While they are being sequenized you are treated to a breath-taking view of the surrounding area. Ezio's eagle vision allows you to scan over the area for items, such as treasure boxes, feathers, hiding places, guards and other interesting objects in third person view, these show up as either white, blue, gold or red glowing against the background, so you can easily spot them.
The animus database provides you with all the data from every person and every place you have visited from doing missions to just wandering around. Every time you meet a new key person, a famous place or a service, this data becomes stored. As the data becomes available you can press a button and read the history. It's like having an entire encyclopaedia at your finger tips, in fact this game would help those studying Italian history and would be a useful tool.
Assassin's Creed II has great lighting effects; it really gives you a great atmosphere of what it may have been like in the 15th century. The game goes from day to night, making the night-time rather eerie. The lighting effects really do show off the beauty of the landscapes of Italy, giving you a stunning view from the tops of view points and roofs.
Ubisoft have included with Assassin's Creed II a way of unlocking items to buy with points you earn as you go through their games. Uplay gives you the chance to share content with other members, buy additional content for the games, win items or use the help system.
More information about Uplay in our FAQ
Assassin's Creed II has become one of the most addictive games I have played for a long time, not only the great storyline, but the extensive database of history this game provides, plus the breath-taking views over Italy. It is very difficult for me to fault this game, if anything the control system can be a little difficult whilst jumping, but over all, this is a game which is very much worth your money. I have spent well over thirty hours with this game and still have a lot to complete.
Posted 24 November 2009 - 09:04 AM
The Uplay points are good aswell as I was able to buy another Assassin Tomb mission (still to do) which are great to explore & work your way through.
May have to start it again soon
Posted 24 November 2009 - 09:53 AM
Posted 25 August 2010 - 07:09 PM
Assassins Creed II is one of the first proper games in along time that has very little wrong with it. It seems that Ubisoft actually listened to what the community said and stuck it in the game. Now I’m not saying its perfect, but its fairly close
The story picks straight up from where the real-life sequence ends in Assassins Creed, where Desmond Miles, who is a member of a long-line of assassins that have been part of many moments throughout history, escaping Abstergo Industries with employee Lucy Stillman, after he was made take part in reliving his ancestors past through a machine called the Animus. You escape Abstergo with Lucy and with the help off Lucy’s friends you enter the Animus 2.0, which is a stylish more advanced version of the original. Through the Animus 2.0you relieve Ezio Auditore da Firenze’s life in the Renaissance of the late 15th century in Italy. The story will take you from being a young foolish man with no problems to being a Master Assassin with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
The missions vary much more than the original. From racing on the rooftops to using a flying machine. Ezio unlocks new weapons and skills by finding scrolls that his father has left in special places. Although fighting guards is almost the same as the original there are more ways of escaping with small tricks like throwing money for beggars to block guards pursuing you. You can also jump into the aqueducts to hide from the chasing guards.
The graphics are something to smile at. It is almost impossible to stand on a high tower and synchronize while the camera spins and the music starts without feeling happy. Although through some parts you will notice the lip synch is slightly off, but the voice acting is amazing. There is little to no motion lag and the game runs amazingly smooth with all that is going on around you.
You will travel to many well known Italian locations such as Tuscany, Florence and Venice
Over all the game is well polished and has a story that will keep you coming back for more without the repetitive missions that so many disliked in the first one. The combat is very much the same but you don’t really mind as the overall game is fantastic.
There is DLC available to continue the story which is also worth a look
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