Version Reviewed: Playstation 3
I must say that I was blown away by the first Assassin’s Creed game,. It was one of the first games to successfully master free running, allow the gamer to go wherever they wanted, explore the in-game world, and do things at their own pace…sort of. The problem that a lot of gamers found with Assassin’s Creed was the monotony of its repetitious play and the way one is forced to do things the game’s way. Needless to say, Assassin’s Creed became a one-time play (as I learned the hard way by buying it again and putting it down halfway through).
So to say the least, when Ubisoft released Assassin’s Creed II (AC II), I was somewhat excited by the concept, but rather skeptical at the same time. Claiming 130 different missions, a more badass assassin that had to LEARN his talents (as opposed to wielding Altair in his godliness from the start), and game trailers that had one screaming and cringing in one’s seat, AC II promised to be worth its price.
Finally, a year after the release, and on the heels of a price drop with the announcement of a new game, I decided to pick it up. All I have to say is this: 11 HOURS BABY! What is so grand about 11 hours of game play? Nothing. But that was just 11 hours straight (no food, no drink, nothing) of me playing it and still not beating it (I have beaten it since, and man did this game live up to the hype). I don’t sit for 11 hours without reason, which should show just how wonderful this game was. For the gamer sitting at home thinking about this, I’m going to give you a quick and dirty synopsis of the good, the bad….the assassin.
Using a new Animus 2.0, the assassins of the cell intend to use the machine’s “bleedout effect” to help Desmond build his skills by visiting more of his ancestors’ genetic memories. This time, with help from Abstergo’s files, Desmond will visit the memories of the silver-tongued ladies’ man Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Ezio is not a trained assassin, but becomes involved when his father’s own life brings the family troubles. Giovanni, Ezio’s father, is an assassin, and a resulting conspiracy that muddies the family name forces Ezio to take on the mantle and continue his father’s work. This Italian boy is more of a lover than a fighter, constantly finding issue with the rival family de’Pazzi, and swooning the likes of the Vespuci family’s daughter. From the name Vespuci, one can already tell that this game is based on more factual events, and the game takes this into account.
The story in this game is a lot more solid as Ezio begins to unlock his own talents, and begins to help others in their personal struggles. Ubisoft’s claim of 130 missions no longer seems so far-fetched, and I found none of the repetitiveness of the first game in this one (short of the side missions, but each one is different too). They delivered on a non-monotonous experience in which you are constantly switching between areas of Italy and going after different targets using different methods. This also shows how Ezio is able to develop relationships with various people, including Lorenzo Medici, and the famous Leonardo da Vinci. The plot of the game also shows various power struggles between families, and how the “games” they play among themselves affect others.The only other major issues that Assassin’s Creed II has are the loading problems that sometimes occur. While it’s not unexpected because of the intense graphics of this game, the loads can sometimes prevent the player from moving, or moving in bursts that resemble a seizure. The best solution for Ubisoft would have been to break the load points up and make them more frequent. Fortunately, problems only last for about 30 seconds, and rarely occur.