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Assassin's Creed II Review for PS3

On: PS3Xbox 360PC
Ezio's story is epic
Ezio's story is epic

Ezio's story is epic

Running might not sound like a terribly thrilling thing to do in a video game, but few games make it as fun as it is in Assassin's Creed 2. The Parkour-inspired system of the original is back, meaning Ezio can leap across rooftops, skip across beams and clamber up walls, and all you need to do is point him in the right direction. It's initially easy to get carried away and run full pelt at all times. Doing this is a recipe for disaster, though, as Ezio has no regard for his own safety when you've got the sprint button held down. Reach a sheer drop and he'll gladly leap off, more than likely to his death. It pays to hold back on top-speed manoeuvring until you know you want to leap across a gap, as medium speed Ezio will prevent himself from blindly jumping off into oblivion. Once you've got this mastered, running about the cities is incredible fun and one of the game's defining features - something Ubisoft should be very proud of.

When you do get into a fight, and it'll happen often, the counter-based melee combat of the original game returns - and it's just as satisfying as before. It won't be for everyone, and certainly lacks some of the depth found in the recent Batman: Arkham Asylum, but you'll need to use different techniques on the more advanced guards, make use of your new disarm ability, and use the various new weapons hidden under your outfit - dual hidden blades are always a thrill to use. Inventor Leonardo da Vinci becomes a friend early on, and he puts his skills to creating new tools and gizmos for Ezio - including the brilliant flying machine that Ubisoft showed off at E3 earlier in the year. The combat here is improved over the first title, yet still accessible for gamers who aren't experts with combos and hugely difficult timing. There are more weapons, new items (the smoke bombs are brilliant if you're in a tight spot), and a brand new damage system - repairs must be carried out on your weapons and armour by visiting blacksmiths.

Assassin's Creed 2 is a massive game. Even if you skip the vast majority of the secondary missions you're looking at roughly 20 hours of gameplay. But you'll want to spend more time in the world because you're rewarded for collecting hidden items. The flags seen in the first game have been replaced by feathers (100 of them), there are 330 treasures to collect and, best of all, Prince of Persia-style catacombs to find and explore. These Assassin tombs feature some of the most challenging platforming gameplay the game has to offer, yet once you've completed the first the rest are completely optional. The reward for finishing them is worth it though, especially for fans of the previous game's hero, Altair.

Your uncle's villa is located in the run-down town of Monteriggioni, a settlement you can rejuvenate with refurbished buildings and by using the various shops and services. Do so and you'll earn money from the increased business traffic, giving you a steady income to use on repairs, new tools, health services and the frequent need to bribe people. If you want to, you can spend an obscene amount of money collecting art. It's never forced on you, but it's something certain players could spend hours doing. The same is true for the glyphs drawn on buildings in the cities: Decipher them by completing puzzles and you'll unlock what the game calls 'The Truth', but ignore them and you'll be able to carry on with the game regardless. This is one of Assassin's Creed 2's biggest strengths. While the main storyline is predominantly linear, everyone will play through the game in a different way, and never will you feel like you're being forced to carry out repeated tasks.

Each of the locations has been stunningly recreated

Each of the locations has been stunningly recreated

This complicated, hugely ambitious game is wrapped up quite gloriously by some of the best presentation seen on the current generation of systems. The cities are the stars, modelled with such attention to detail that you could lose hours sightseeing, but Ezio and the other key characters are equally impressive. If there's a slight blip it comes from the occasional odd-looking animation, and a bit of frame rate trouble here and there (more prevalent, along with screen tearing, in the PS3 version) and plenty of pop-in, but you can't help but be impressed by what Ubisoft has created here. Voice acting is top quality, too, with the assembled cast all putting in believable performances that run the gambit from emotional to downright funny. The game world feels alive and adds an immeasurable amount to the experience as a whole.

Coming out so close to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was risky for a number of reasons. MW2 is a quality product, so any weaknesses in games released so soon after would stick out like a sore thumb, and critical responses could have had a negative impact on sales. With the original game coming up short in a few key areas, any slips by Ubisoft would have been flagged up for all to see. Almost all of these causes for concern have been addressed, either reworked or replaced by something better. The storyline is intricate, there's depth beyond the main quest, the presentation is wonderful, and the action is incredible at times. We've had some stunning single-player experiences this year, and Ubisoft has given us another gem to add to the list.

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Highest Rated Comment

guyderman's Avatar

guyderman

Shall I start the fighting off then -'WHAT!!!! - you gave it the same score as Uncharted 2!' :)

Great review Tom - I'm really looking forward to playing this!
Posted 17:31 on 17 November 2009

User Comments

Techdex's Avatar

Techdex

Simply brilliant game! A wonderfully atmospheric environment has been created which is stunning at times. The attention to detail is fantastic although the frame rate suffers now and again. Cannot wait for the next installment!
Posted 19:18 on 04 January 2010
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ Wido

I agree whole heartedly about the love or hate - this is quite obvious from the review scores that people are really enjoying it - and fairplay to them. I just found it really boring and average.

On the upside I managed to get back pretty much what I paid for it on Ebay.
Posted 16:05 on 23 November 2009
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ guyderman

It is a love or hate game to be honest. I love it. Its brilliant, good improvement from ACI. I like how you can buy new items this time around than killing a target and receive a new weapon or piece of armour. That was dull.

I think the story is perfect. Im interested in the characters to see what involvement they add to the finale.
Posted 16:00 on 23 November 2009
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman

I'm sorry to say that I've played this one for about 3 and a half hours now - and I am bored out of my mind by it!
Not not impressed at all - a real mixed bag - scenery is beautiful - the character models are as ugly as sin. The story is really dull, the climbing mechanic is poor and the combat is really boring!

I think the problem is I've played games this year that have copied and improved on the original Assassins Creed formula - the combat in Batman flows much better and is far more satisfying - the climbing mechanic is far more acurate and feels better on InFamous and the improvement on graphics in general this year with the likes of Resi 5, Batman, Killzone, Uncharted means that this game just doesn't wow the way it would've 12 months ago. Very disapointed in this one!
Posted 15:54 on 23 November 2009
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx

My AC2 came in the post today Videogamer

Cheers can't wait to start playing it.
Posted 17:21 on 19 November 2009
xboxlive's Avatar

xboxlive

THis is a must buy for me,as i loved the first game and i think iam going to love this one.
Posted 17:18 on 19 November 2009
CatZone's Avatar

CatZone

Ezio's story is really epic!
The landscapes are amazing and the reality is surprising!
Every detail it has been considered like in the real world, the voices of the market, the blending system, the attention of the guards while walking nearby.. and also all the historical part and the buildings make you feel really "inside" the game.

There is only 1 thing that is totally wrong: is the Italian accent and the way they speak Italian. Some Italian words are said with not much sense.
They speak like in the American mafia movies and not like the people from Florence (or Rome or Venice, 3 different slangs and accents).
But... hey, I'm Italian, I can't avoid to note this minimal things! I feel like playing in my neighborhood anyway!! :)

I love the game and I think is the best ever made till today!!
Posted 04:07 on 19 November 2009
jakeistheman's Avatar

jakeistheman

great review,to many games to get my heads guna implode. not enough money either.
Posted 01:02 on 19 November 2009
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ rbevanx

:laugh: It would indeed help us a lot!

Shopto.net have dispatched my copy. Got the text earlier! Didn't check me phone so Creed II will be played tomorrow :)
Posted 19:59 on 18 November 2009
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ Wido

Only if we had a similar system in real life

"Warning running out of beer and there is a gap at the bar for you"
Posted 19:44 on 18 November 2009
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ TomO

Cool. Its good that the game tells you when your armour is knackered and isn't giving you enough protection.

Thanks.
Posted 13:56 on 18 November 2009
TomO's Avatar

TomO@ Wido

I can't say for sure if falling from a height will hurt your armour, but you definitely need to pay for repairs after getting into fights - the game tells you when you need to visit a blacksmith.
Posted 11:16 on 18 November 2009
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Looks good. Damn Christmas and the glut of good games.

There's this, F1 2009, NSMB Wii, L4D2...
Posted 08:42 on 18 November 2009
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius

Woo Hoo this comes friday for me can't wait. Cheers Tom!
Posted 08:15 on 18 November 2009
Pablo_Escobar's Avatar

Pablo_Escobar

Certain parts of the first game, like climbing so many towers to get to the vantage point got old after a while. Though all in all I liked the game.
Posted 21:35 on 17 November 2009

Game Stats

Assassin's Creed II
9
Out of 10
Assassin's Creed II
  • Loads of variety
  • Massive quest
  • Looks gorgeous
  • Combat still too simplistic for some
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 20/11/2009
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Action
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 15
Site Rank: 4,822 3
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