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Assassin's Creed II 360 Review - -

Gameplay 9.7
Graphics 9.5
Sound 9.0
Value 9.7
Distributor: UBISOFT
Review Date:
November 2009
Andrew Bistak


Assassin's Creed II

The original game, Assassin's Creed was a good game. Sure, it had it's issues, however from the engaging gameplay and unique story, it actually challenged the status quo of gaming and once again blurred that boundary between movie and video game. Although it worked on most levels, there were of course some issues, however thankfully in the sequel this has been ironed out and Assassin's Creed II transcends the original, yet still keeps many of the elements that made the original game so compelling.

In every sense, Assassin's Creed II is a true sequel and follows two stories that are irrevocably linked, however are set in two different timelines. One is in the present which stars Desmond Miles and the other, set in the past which revolves around one of Desmond's ancestors, that of the charismatic Ezio Auditore di Firenze!

As the game walks in the realm of science fiction, the ability to access the memories of your ancestors is via a device called the Animus that allows people to relive their ancestors memories thanks to their genetic coding. Even though I found this plot a little hard to swallow in the original, it has grown on me considerably in the second installment and I think this is mainly due to the engaging story but more specifically, the captivating the characters that you encounter such as Leonardo da Vinci. Speaking with the plot, although it's quite over the top and sometimes incredibly unbelievable, it's almost like it has been taken from a Dan Brown novel which is not a bad thing in itself. It's different yet it works.

After the cliff hanger ending of Assassin's Creed, the player is immediately thrown into the bizarre world of Desmond Miles and unlike the last installment, another mysterious group is attempting to tap into the hidden memories of Miles in order to unleash his inner "assassin". This is where they tap into the memories of Ezio, an Italian Noblemen living in the Renaissance and when he is betrayed by the Templar's, he dons the robes of the assassins in order to seek justice. Experiencing the birth of his vengeance is a true treat to the gamer and really helps in drawing you into this complex and sometimes politically intricate world of the Renaissance. Of course, you also need to control Desmond at times, however the main character in the sequel is but the balance works quite well. The modern parts are fun, however playing Ezio is definitely the treat.

At its core, I would dub Assassin's Creed II as a political conspiracy action adventure game but where the game does shine is through the wondrous gaming environment that is quite interactive. Although without raising any parallels to Grand Theft Auto IV, the world Renaissance Italy is a very surreal experience and is almost "living" at times. I was quite amazed as I walked through these ancient streets as the characters gave the appearance that they were all part of something larger.

Of course, the main aspect of the game is controlling Ezio as he interacts with a variety of people from benign and malign which of course leads him on a swift and stealthy killing spree as the body count rises. As you control Ezio with the 360 controller, he interacts quite well with the environment and the pre-generated animations almost appear as if you are part of it. The buttons are mapped well on the controller and your arms and legs have been assigned to certain buttons which may take some newbie gamers a little time to master. Of course the "X" button is the "death" button in this game that allows you if the planets are aligned to perform a flawless kill. You can even  grab opponents with the B button and use the A button to doge which makes for some interesting combat and combinations. However in relation to movement, as you climb on perilous ledges or attempt to jump inhuman distances, he does it with the grace of a professional and is quite acrobatic at times. Of course ledges do provide an issue or if you miscalculate a jump, it may cause you to end up dead a few times more than you expected.

The game does offer a healthy dose of puzzles throughout the game, whether its retrieving an artifact or trying to figure out how to get from A to B, it's actually a challenge yet a worthy challenge, once you have figured it out. Other missions involving rescuing prisoners, following people and of course assassinating those who have done you and others wrong. In terms of difficulty, Assassin's Creed II borders on medium which is definitely a good target by the developers. Reminiscent of games such as Prince of Persia and Thief, trying to avoid your enemies or finish quickly is the main crux of the game and it helps that under his robes, he has some dangerous blades ready for some action.

While you can challenge your enemies face to face, the key is to get the upper hand by using stealth which generally results in a much cleaner victory and of course, you haven't alerted every guard within the area. There are even some Batman-esq moves that have you hanging from rafters as you slash your unsuspecting victims, however there will still be times when you have to face your foes face to face which is still a blast. Apart from your sword and deadly blades, you also have the ability to disarm your foes and even take their weapons or if you're feeling up for a challenge, a quick throw on your knives works wonders. Thankfully if you do become injured, you can purchase health to assist in your recovery which is definitely needed at times.

Even though the missions are not all about you, you can hire other people to assist such as beautiful courtesans to distract guards or even thieves and mercenaries to fight some of your battles which makes Assassin's Creed II such a unique and entertaining gaming experience. Like Grand Theft Auto IV, the player must be wary of their actions and if you murder too many people ruthlessly in the game, you will soon become known to the guards and seeing wanted posters of you littered throughout the town is not a good thing.

Another curve ball to the series is the introduction of a workable commodity which is money that is achieved by completing missions, looting or stealing from unsuspecting victims. This can then be used to purchase weapons and new costumes plus the ability to upgrade your base of operations, or your villa. You can even buy shops that will make money and definitely creates some interesting gameplay that is not just your stock standard adventure game. Of course the most important aspect of cash it repairing your armour or upgrading it which can be a chore at times. Health is another purchase that is a necessity.

Graphically, the world of Assassin's Creed II is pure eye candy and looks quite wondrous at times. The developers have successfully managed to capture the Renaissance era from the characters to the buildings. The characters in the game, tow just Enzio all move with a real-world grace and the clothes they wear are perfectly crafted. Add in some great facial animation and the love put into this game is quite unparalleled.

Add in some great lighting and special effects and Assassin's Creed II is a very well made game and when you're standing atop that high tower, the sense of distance is perfect. To compliment the graphics is the professional voice acting and the Hollywood soundtrack that sounds quite majestic at times and makes good use of your surround sound setup. Even the background ambience in the game is perfect, whether your sneaking around or hearing the hustle and bustle of the city, it's quite thoughtful and engaging.

In conclusion, Assassin's Creed II is a worthy successor and goes beyond the original game with a very interesting story and some almost perfect gameplay. If you loved the original, you'll definitely be wanting to revisit this game, however the developers have also ensured that if you missed out on the first one, they have not alienated new comers to the game. It's action, it's intrigue and it's perfectly crafted like one of Leonardo da Vinci's inventions and speaking of inventions, you get to use a few of his in the game (You might have noticed this on one of the screenshots) Yes my dear readers, Assassin's Creed II is not a good game but rather, a very good game! Just be warned, the ending will leave you craving for more and the hints to Assassin's Creed III will be rubbed in your face. Worth every minute!


  • EZIO, A NEW ASSASSIN FOR A NEW ERA Ezio Auditore da Firenze is a young Italian noble who will learn the ways of the assassins after his family was betrayed and he looks to seek vengeance. He is a lady’s man, a free soul with panache yet has a very human side to his personality. Through him, you become a master assassin.

  • RENAISSANCE ITALY Italy in the 15th century was less a country and more a collection of city-states where families with political and economic strength began to take leadership roles in cities like Florence and Venice. This journey through some of the most beautiful cities in the world takes place in a time in history where culture and art were born alongside some of the most auspicious stories of corruption, greed and murder.

  • A NEW-FOUND FREEDOM You will be able to perform missions when you want and how you want in this open-ended world that brings back free-running and adds elements such as swimming and even flying to the adventure. The variety in gameplay adds another layer for you to truly play through the game any way you choose.

  • DYNAMIC CROWD  Discover a living, breathing world where every character is an opportunity for the player. Blending in with the crowd is easier, working with in-game characters provide ample rewards but can also lead to surprising consequences.

  • BECOME A MASTER ASSASSIN  Perfect your skills to become a master assassin where you brandish new weapons, learn to disarm enemies then use their weapons against them and assassinate enemies using both hidden blades.


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