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Assassin's Creed II - Assassin's Creed II

By Stuart Andrews
Reviewed:

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  • Recommended by TR
Assassin's Creed II

Summary

Our Score

9/10

Review Price free/subscription

In a way, this is virtual tourism at its best, though a more bloodthirsty Grand Tour than most culture vultures (bar Hannibal Lecter) would have in mind. It’s also great to see missions that make the most of these environments, with one where you eliminate archers on the streets and rooftops as a gondola crawls through the Venetian canals a real stand-out.

Beyond killing and clambering and following the latest twist of the plot, the game has a couple of other hooks to keep you going. Firstly, a previous occupant of the Animus had left his mark on the game world in the form of glyphs; weird diagrams that Ezio can read in the past, and that can then be interpreted by Desmond’s new assassin colleagues in the future. These give you further glimpses into the back-story, complete with a weird video that slowly unfolds the more you collect. If you like your Da Vinci code claptrap, you’ll love this.

Secondly, with the end of the game’s first act Ezio gets his own Tuscan hill-town to govern, and money earned through assassination can be spent on upgrading its facilities and making it a nicer place to live (and a cheaper place to buy arms, armour and supplies). To be honest, the last is a little bit wasted – once you reach Venice there’s not really much compulsion to go back, but it shows how far Ubisoft has gone this time to ensure that AC2 has real depth.

I’ll admit that there are still times when – like an episode of Neighbours - the scenery shakes to remind you that it’s all not real. You’ll see guards who fail to react to a comrade getting murdered nearby, or chuckle as nobody in a crowded square responds to the sight of a man diving hundreds of feet into a haystack.

You’re guaranteed to witness at least once chase that descends into a knockabout farce, your quarry waiting for you to catch up while you continually fluff a simple jump. The oft-repeated background dialogue is back as well, though much less obtrusively and annoyingly this time around. Some of these issues, I suspect, will only be resolved when Ubisoft has sufficient hardware to realise the extent of its ambition.

All in all, however, Assassin’s Creed II has narrowed the gap between expectation and reality to the point where it’s really more of a crack. It’s a game that has bought me from a slight sneer to the point of obsession, and the sort of game I can happily play for four or five hours in a single stint without looking down at my watch. If you liked Assassin’s Creed, this is better. If you felt disappointed by Assassin’s Creed, this will restore your faith. And if you mocked Assassin’s Creed, stop laughing. Assassin’s Creed II deserves respect.

Verdict

A storming historical thriller that comprehensively deals with the weaknesses of its disappointing forebear. Not quite a renaissance masterpiece, but very, very close.

Our Score

9/10
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Chris Beach

December 8, 2009, 5:37 pm

Loving this game so far, the thrill of climbing the massive towers! And I like the side quests, esp the tombs which are more climbing puzzles ala Tomb Raider than the rest of the games. The economy side is nicely done to, and having treasure maps is much better than hunting all over for flags. The 100 feathers is a more reasonable target.





Although I do think they could have a kept a bit more of the 1st with regards to the actual assinations, I liked the building up of my knowledge of the target before attacking, ok you didn't 'need' to, but it felt more real. Now its just follow waypoint and kill whatevers there.

TheEvilGenius

December 8, 2009, 6:59 pm

1 dumb question, but does anyone know where that second screen shot on the first page takes place? The one with the boat frame. I've completed the main quest and don't recall seeing that location at all. Looks like Venice, maybe?





Also, whilst I really enjoyed this game, the controls are one of the most frustrating I've ever come across. The amount of times I've had a fluid free-running experience ruined, or a silent assassination blown because the controls have decided I ment to let go and leap into space rather than climb a ladder, for example, nearly drove me mad.





Finally, I think "Assassins" Creed is a bit of a misnomer really. Whilst I enjoy slapping a guard up the side of a head with a warhammer as much as the next man, it's not really very Assassiny is it? Most missions usually ended in either storming in or out of a location, sword swinging. You even lead a small army at one point! Less Hitman in Italy, more Ezio of War in places...





Other than that, the graphics are amazing, and Ezio is one of the most likeble characters I've played in a long while. He also looks THE MAN in that white robe/armour combo.

japester

December 8, 2009, 7:01 pm

Absolutly loved this game, but then again I'm a huge fan of the original. Finished it not too long ago but still feel compelled to continue playing to get all the trophies and collectables. The story in the glyphs is an intersting pull and the ending is - without ruining anything - still a "WTF".... quite literally ;op

Xiphias

December 8, 2009, 11:15 pm

@TheEvilGenius: I would imagine it's the Venetian Arsenal Shipyard pre-order quest.

Cub

December 8, 2009, 11:48 pm

@EvilGenius - I remember seeing that shot in relation to the "ShipYard" addon that came with the special edition... Will probably be released as DLC at some point!





The game is awesome, I finished it on Saturday after 2 weeks of pure entertainment from it. I found the controls fine whilst playing through it, I don't remember one occasion where Ezio did something other than what I expected. Bizarrely though, once I had finished the story and started working on a bit of Trophy whoring, I started getting frustrated at his movements, particularly when trying to sweep 5 guards off their feet in one go!





It was especially nice having been to Venice just last year, given the time difference it was surprising how many parts of the city I recognised :)





Would be tempted to grab a copy of the original if there weren't so many other great games out already vying for my attention. It gets no better in the new year either!

hankb6d

December 9, 2009, 5:14 pm

I am finding this a bit boring, just like the first one only bigger, feels like hard work and with little enjoyment or sense of reward.

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