I'll admit it: my initial reactions to Assassin's Creed 2 were negative. Faces look weird: Lucy doesn't even look like Lucy any more, and everyone appears to be slightly cross-eyed. Items seem to hover. The Italian accents of the voice actors are uniformly terrible. Gone is the cool interface of the first game, replaced by something lame. Too many in-your-face confirmation messages: do you really really really want to buy this thing? Also gone are the well-integrated tutorials with the ethereal female voice; instead, you are thrown into combat with some fleeting advice in the form of text.
However, once I got into the real gameplay, I noticed one thing immediately: the heart of the first game, namely running and jumping between buildings, is exactly the same. What a relief! Gradually I became accustomed to the interface and learned to ignore the graphics issues. I dealt with the bad accents by switching the game language to Italian and turning on subtitles. This also improves the game's immersiveness, with the only apparent drawback being that my handlers' voices are now Italian as well.
Now I'm liking this game a lot.
Main quests and side-quests are more varied and interesting than in the first game. You can totally ignore the side-quests. People who get bored easily with these mostly collection-oriented quests can skip them completely, but many of them involve tricky climbing puzzles, which I enjoy.
New moves have been added to both combat and climbing/jumping. It's rarely necessary to use any of the new moves, but they add to the depth and variation of the game.
As you play you gradually find and gain the ability to use new weapons and armour. The weapons don't distinguish themselves as much as I expected. Although I never tried wearing lighter armour in later parts of the game, I can only assume that combat would have been much more difficult to survive. You can also pick up and steal NPC weapons, but again, since they don't seem to differentiate themselves, this is rarely worthwhile.
Looting dead bodies is a nice addition. You can also tackle and bump into people to steal their stuff. That adds some new distraction possibilities. Chests litter the landscape and can help you build up your fortune.
The management aspect of the game, in which you make various improvements to your home and surrounding villa, adds a mildly interesting aspect to the game. Anyone who has spent any amount of time in a serious world-builder game won't be too impressed, however.
There's plenty of historical interest in the game. Artwork of the period is covered in great detail, for instance. You could end up (gasp!) learning a few things if you're not careful.
Leonardo was a nice addition to the game, although he might have been anyone, since his status as an artist and inventor only really figured into the game once. I had hoped he would provide all kinds of interesting contraptions, but in the end there's really just the one.
I did miss my favourite feature of the first game: killing Templars. However, this has been somewhat remedied in the downloadable content (DLC). I've played all of these, and in my opinion they are worth the extra bucks.
All in all, a very enjoyable game. If you liked the first game, you're certain to get something out of this one. Anyone who likes physical action games should enjoy it as well.
|Platform used||XBox 360|
|Type||Action, open, scripted/unscripted|
|Bugs||Few if any|
|Co-op multiplayer vs. bots||no|
|Classic blunders||Lousy voice acting|