Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 11/17/09 | Genre: Action
Ubisoft's second entry into the acclaimed Assassin's Creed franchise promised to fix a lot of the complaints gamers had with the first game. Did they succeed? After playing through the game in its entirety I can safely they have most definitely succeeded. I was not the biggest fan of the first game; I found it to be rather boring and very repetitive. However Assassin's Creed 2 offers an enjoyable gaming experience crafted around an interesting story.
The game picks up where the first one left off with Desmond and Lucy in the present day; however most of the gameplay takes place in Renaissance Italy as you control one of Desmond's ancestors, Ezio Auditore. When you are first introduced to the character the game teaches you the basics of combat and free running around the city in the form of a fight against some bullies and a race with your brother. It is a decent introduction to the game and helps set up the story as well.
The main structure of the game is similar to that of the first, but it is greatly improved by the fact that most of the more annoying types of missions are optional side quests. In general though, you will speak to someone to begin a mission and carry out the task before heading on to the next. The game highlights mission locations with an exclamation mark on your map. With the exception of the occasional escort mission, most of the quests are fun, exciting and relevant to the main plot. Various types of side quests are also shown on the map using different icons. For instance a race is denoted by a checkered flag while an assassination mission is marked by a crosshairs.
In combat you can disarm guards, dodge attacks or counter them if you play strategically. There are also more weapons this time around including throwing knives, smoke bombs and even a small pistol. Of course the sword and hidden blade are still around too; there's a certain satisfaction to be had by sneaking up on someone and bringing them down with the hidden blade. The play control hasn't changed drastically since the first game, but it does feel more responsive. That said it still isn't as responsive as it needs to be for the free running and climbing sequences. Some of these portions get frustrating because they just feel broken; the precise control needed just isn't there and that is my single biggest gripe about the game. There's just enough of a delay to screw you up and sometimes Ezio doesn't jump in the direction you would expect, but will instead turn just enough to miss the platform you were aiming for.
In terms of graphics and visuals, Assassin's Creed 2 looks pretty nice for the most part. The large environments are well detailed and the animations are nice and fluid. The textures are also pretty sharp, but the character models during cut scenes can look a bit odd. Thankfully though, the voice acting is superb. This is one of few games that I can honestly say that about. The voice actors put on great performances and really bring the characters to life; my girlfriend commented that she liked the game because it was like "a really long movie that I get to watch." The music and sound effects are also great and further immerse you into the world.
Another thing I really enjoyed about the game was the amount of extras. There are a ton of side missions to do and items to collect. One of my favorites was searching out the Assassin tombs and unlocking Altair's armor. Then add to that all the feathers and look out points and you've got yourself a fair amount of content to keep you coming back for more.
Assassin's Creed 2 is a great game that I easily recommend as a purchase. While I found the first one to be less than spectacular, Ubisoft took the complaints to heart and fixed the problems in this sequel. That, my friends, makes this one an easy buy.