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 Assassin's Creed II Review

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Harden Cox
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PostSubject: Assassin's Creed II Review   Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:41 pm

So unlike the first Assassins Creed I loved everything about this game so enjoy



ACII picks up where the previous game left off. You begin as Desmond, a descendant of an ancient society of assassins captured by the Templar-controlled Abstergo corporation, which searched his memories for clues about an ancient technology. After a narrow escape, the Assassins ask for your help in discovering what the Templars hope to find. The key lies in the memories of Ezio Auditore, the son of a merchant family in Renaissance Florence.

With a story spanning 23 years and a grand conspiracy going back millennia, the narrative in ACII is complicated and expansive, but you’ll rarely feel lost if you’re paying attention. A lack of motivation plagued Assassin’s Creed; you killed your targets as instructed by a guild member, and Altaïr wasn't particularly likable as an arrogant killer with little background. Ezio’s motivation is immediate and personal. He jokes, he flirts, he makes mistakes and he grows as a character as you seek vengeance on the men who destroyed your family in their quest for power.


Unlike Altaïr, Ezio knows what the ladies like.


As compelling a character as Ezio is, the star of the show is Renaissance Italy itself. From the streets of Medici-controlled Florence to the canals of Venice to the cathedrals of Rome, Ubisoft Montreal has created the most believable world in a game this year. These cities are full of commoners, tradesmen, thieves and prostitutes…some of whom might help you—for a price. The sense of place is also aided immeasurably by the inclusion of historically significant figures, including Lorenzo de Medici, Caterina Sforza and many more, all of whom have detailed histories that explain their place in the tumultuous Renaissance period. Then there’s Leonardo da Vinci, who serves as a confidante and purveyor of gadgets and intelligence to Ezio, decoding the mysterious documents regarding the objects the Assassins and Templars seek. These often contain the schematics for new tools of your trade, including a wrist-fired musket and a poison-delivery system for your assassin’s blade.

The narrative progresses through objectives indicated with an exclamation mark on your map. While you aren’t able to choose the type of task you perform in order to move forward, there’s a good mix of mission types, and there are enough that it’ll rarely feel like you’re doing the same thing for very long. You also have the option to undertake side missions if you’d like, from assassination contracts to races and more, though these are never required (and in over 25 hours of gameplay, I never did a single race or extracurricular assassination contract). Collectibles have also been revised and yield monetary rewards or more powerful weapons and armor. These activities are held together by the extremely satisfying free-running mechanic, which continues to define the series, and Ezio is much more likely than Altaïr to go where you expect while leaping from platform to platform. Rooftop paths are marked more clearly, and you can finally swim, correcting one of Assassin’s Creed’s primary sources of frustration


There’s also a series of 20 symbols hidden around the world that reveal puzzles that unlock “The Truth,” a hidden manifesto from the 16th Animus test subject. If you’re interested in the game’s fiction, you’ll want to unravel the mystery, but you’ll have your work cut out for you. While the initial puzzles aren’t particularly difficult, by the end, you’ll likely be scratching your head for quite a while.

Ubisoft has seen fit to add an economy system to ACII as well, should you choose to explore it: Your family’s ancestral estate has fallen into disrepair, and it’s up to you to commission its reconstruction (or not). Upgrades are optional, but as you renovate your city, the changes bring in more and more money, depositing funds into an account for you over time. This money, in addition to the financial rewards you receive for completing objectives, can be used to buy new and better equipment. It’s not a huge addition, but it does serve to more deeply invest you in the game world.

Confrontation remains focused on stealthy assassinations and the rhythm-based counter system from the last game, with new additions to your repertoire providing more options in combat. While the swords and knives from the last game return, you’ll now find axes, hammers and pole-arms added to the mix. These all require different timing to counter and be countered, but also add new tactics, from sweeping multiple targets with a spear to bludgeoning past an enemy’s guard with a heavy weapon. The disarm ability is especially useful, enabling you to steal your enemies weapons, which becomes particularly important against more heavily armed opponents. Counters remain your primary resource for kills, but standard melee combat has been redone; a simple but elegant combo system reminiscent of Fable 2 is in place, where timing button presses correctly yields a fluid series of attacks.

Unfortunately, the new additions do bring some minor problems. It remains entirely too easy to accidentally kill civilians, especially with the dual wristblades. More than once, I moved to assassinate a guard from behind only to look on in horror as an overeager Ezio thrust his arms out in both directions, skewering the armored guard and the nice lady in the yellow dress to my left. There were also times when I dropped a primary weapon inadvertently as I switched to my bare hands in order to disarm enemies, unable to pick it back up again. There are also graphical problems here and there, including occasional clipping issues where objects or limbs will poke through walls and benches, and some ugly textures during in-engine cutscenes. However, these issues are mitigated by a smooth 30fps frame rate with zero tearing, both rampant problems in the original game.


It’s rare to find a sequel to an ambitious but flawed title up the ante the way that Assassin’s Creed II does. Ubisoft Montreal has successfully addressed the failings of the first game while simultaneously raising the bar even further for itself. The end result is a game that takes the free-running and huge cityscapes of its predecessor, then adds in a host of action/RPG elements that combine to form a much deeper and more satisfying game, and a surprise frontrunner for the best of 2009.

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PostSubject: Re: Assassin's Creed II Review   Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:15 pm

Pros:

Many more assassination options. You can let your mind run wild and kill targets any way you want.

The truth, it's just a great addition, maybe... 3 or 4 of them have some challenging puzzles.
The one where you have to choose 5 pictures based on a hint they give you is the most annoying.

Cons:

Not really challenging.

Removal of the added information you can use to assassinate your targets easier.
You kinda go with the flow in this game.



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