Assassin's Creed II Review for PS3

On: PS3Xbox 360PC
This is a gorgeous game that builds upon the original in every way
This is a gorgeous game that builds upon the original in every way

This is a gorgeous game that builds upon the original in every way

Assassin's Creed was a massive commercial success, yet it received the most mixed reviews of any high profile release in recent memory. Under the circumstances, developer Ubisoft must have questioned what really needed changing for this sequel. For every critic there was someone willing to shoot down the naysayer. For everyone who claimed the free-running was awkward, there was an angry fan keen to get their point across. Yet looked at from a neutral point of view, the first, clearly ambitious game had some glaring faults that had to be ironed out for this hugely anticipated follow-up. The original laid down the groundwork, but the sequel had to patch over the rough spots and fill in the missing pieces. Assassin's Creed 2 hasn't re-written the free-roaming action assassination rulebook, but it has refined the gameplay to create an altogether more enjoyable and diverse experience.

Plenty of spoilers for the first game follow, so be warned if you haven't finished it yet. Assassin's Creed 2 picks up immediately after the bizarre 'Desmond staring at a wall of glyphs' ending of the original, with the hoody-wearing bartender once again trapped inside a lab at Abstergo Industries - a company which just so happens to be run by a modern day version of the Knights Templar. These guys used a device called the Animus to make Desmond recall ancestral memories - in the original game, the memories of Altair, a member of the Assassin Clan during 1191. Altair and the other assassins were trying to find the Piece of Eden, an artefact able to create illusions. This is exactly what the shady Abstergo is after, and the reason they kidnapped Desmond.

It's complicated stuff, and the plot gets even more hard on the brain during the events of this sequel, in which Abstergo employee Lucy Stillman helps Desmond out of the complex and into a secret facility that has its own Animus device - dubbed the Animus 2.0. This time Desmond is recalling the memories of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a young Italian man who seeks revenge on the men who betrayed him and his family in 1476, almost 300 years after the events of the first game. Ezio begins the game as a stereotypical suave young man, but tragic events and the discovery of his family history send him down the path of his forebears, as he becomes a deadly, cloaked assassin.

As in the 2007 game, Assassin's Creed 2 takes place in numerous open cities, with large swathes of countryside to explore in-between. Being set in Italy, you've obviously got brand new locations to visit, including Venice (complete with row-able boats), Florence, Romagna and Tuscany. Each is stunningly reproduced here, with even more attention to detail than in the still beautiful original. Hundreds of civilians go about their business, guards patrol the streets and roof tops, and, more importantly, each place is packed with things to do. There is a core series of storyline missions to play through, but these only represent a portion of what's on offer. Ezio is even more nimble than Altair, so he's more than up to the job of climbing the numerous towering buildings scattered about each city. Reaching the top of marked 'viewpoints' will reveal a hidden part of the map, simultaneously unlocking new missions.

The double hidden blade kill. Nice.

The double hidden blade kill. Nice.

One of the many complaints levelled at the first game was that you often felt like you were doing the same things over and over again. As Altair you'd go to the Assassins Bureau in order to get some tips on where to look for clues about your next target; you'd then head off into that area, draw information onto your in-game map by scaling numerous view points, and then complete the required number of investigation quests before you could finally attempt the assassination. These investigations were, let's be honest, not that great, and it's no surprise to find that entire system is missing in Assassin's Creed 2. The best of these tasks (beating people up, courier missions) and some new ones (races and one-off assassinations) have been turned into completely optional side missions for the sequel, rewarding you with cash if you complete them. The core story missions are free to play whenever you like, and you feel less shackled as a result. You'll still be building up to key assassinations, but the lead up missions are far more entertaining and varied than before, and the sense that you're working towards your goal is greater.

Outside of this core change to the way the game is structured, the various gameplay mechanics of the original have been refined, completely rebuilt or added to. Blending, which lets you take cover within a group of people while on the move, has been reworked so that you can do so within any small group of people - wander up close to them and you're effectively hidden from guards. Various groups offer you their services for a price, and these people distract guards or give you fully controllable mobile cover. But unless you pay for this help, you have to hop from group to group if you want to remain 'blended', as they rarely walk where you want them to. If a line of guards is stood blocking an entrance that you must use, and you can't find another way in, you can pay a group of thieves to rob them and run off. The guards won't stand for this, and leave their posts to chase after the criminals. This opens up the entrance so you can wander right in.

Doing naughty things, like pickpocketing (no longer a mission type, simply done while wandering about behind people), clambering about on rooftops or killing someone, will get you noticed. Do enough bad things and your notoriety will max out, and the guards will come after you if you're spotted. You can evade the chasing pack by outrunning them and finding a hiding spot (although guards will look more thoroughly than in the last game), but your notoriety will remain on red alert. This can only be reduced by carrying out tasks to lower it, such as bribing public speakers, killing officials and ripping down wanted posters. It's a neat system that is more realistic than guards just forgetting about you, and it has been handled in a way that makes the process fun and fairly simple.

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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: 2,725 30
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