Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Assassin's Creed II Review

When Ubisoft first brought out Assassin's Creed I was very excited. The chance to be a true assassin, not one of the modern day gun slingers we now control all too often, was enticing. The original showed a lot of potential but some problems and tedious missions held Altair back from being the centre piece of an outstanding game. Now when IGN makes a big statement, I pay attention. They named Assassin's Creed II the Xbox 360 2009 Game of the Year. In a year that also included the release of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, this was a big call from the IGN staff. The thing is though, they are probably right because Assassin's Creed II would be close to my favourite game on the 360.

Everything that wasn't perfect in the original was perfected in the sequel. Those annoying missions that were littered throughout Assassin's Creed were scrapped. The graphics look a lot better and the level of detail in the massive cities really blew me away. The storyline has more meaning and goes deeper into your own soul to make you want to play this game. Controls are improved and free running from building to building is now smoother than before. Assassin's Creed II is almost the complete package apart from a few small gripes and lack of online play, something that will be changed when the second addition to this story, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, is released later this year. Don't bother waiting though because this title is needed to understand the story of Brotherhood as it follows on from where Assassin's Creed II finishes off.


This game is a solid title that is only verified by the excellent Renaissance style graphics. I am impressed how smooth the animations are especially when you have Ezio leaping across buildings or even running through the city with guards chasing after you. I never encountered any slow downs or lag during the game.

There are many different cities that you have the chance to travel to in your journey. Each city has a distinctive colour theme to make it unique and in the larger cities different areas distinquish themselves from others. One example is in Venice that one area is a big Masquerade area and for part of the game you must wear a mask and the place is covered with banners. Visit the villagers who live around the main cities and you will find some appaling areas such as swamps that feature water damaged buildings and smaller populations.

All buildings needed one feature that allows them to work in this game. Everything is climbable and this has forced buildings to all look similar in build. The different areas and colours mix it up a bit and do a good job at disguising the repetition. Buildings do have some unique features or design that let you tell them apart. Some larger structures are also historical landmarks that have made an appearance in this game.

The cities are full of life and the animations are just spectacular. From small details such as the way your cape reacts when climbing towers to big ones like how the villagers react to a dead body; Ubisoft have perfected it all. Cut scenes have also been greatly improved over Assassin's Creed, continuing with the high level presentation in the rest of the game. Every character looks great and all important characters are unique. Sadly this can't be said for your ordinary citizen, but it is only a small gripe.

The voice acting is top class in Assassin's Creed II with every character sounding like they have a true accent instead of some American poorly putting one on. Everyone fits into the setting and it really adds to the reality of the whole experience. The Renaissance themed music also creates a wonderful atmosphere and added sound effects such as when you are noticed by guards works perfectly. Not many games can from different eras can pull off the sound from the time and place; Assassin's Creed II is one of the games that can.


Assassin's Creed II is an engaging game that will have you interested in the story from the beginning chapter right up until the huge twist at the end. Ezio Auditore de Firenze is a likeable character and his motivation to avenge his family makes it clear in the beginning that you are the good guy here. This game follows on from the original as you escape from Abstergo Industries and find refuge in an abandoned warehouse. Yes, for all you newcomers be aware that you are actually a person called Desmond and a whole different story plot is linking Altair's and Ezio's lives together. The Assassin's Creed series probably has the strongest multi-game storyline of any game I have ever played and allows for multiple adventures until Desmond figures out the mystery behind the Assassin's and Templar.

We follow Ezio's life through the Animus from birth until we leave him at the end of the story (Part 1). The luxury of the Animus however is that we only replay the important parts of his 15th century life. Ezio's story is one full of twists and turns and I really don't want to ruin any of it for you. Just let me say that you will feel a real connection between Ezio and yourself by the end of the game. The game is split up into the free roaming of the city as you explore every nook and cranny, as well as the main missions that you complete to help you track down your fathers killer.

Gone are the days of tedious eavesdropping missions as we say hello to variety for each and every seciton of the game. Missions range from stalking an enemy, infiltrating heavily guarded areas and assassinating your target, having an old sword fight with guards and flying through Venice with a pair of wings. It takes approximately 18 hours to finish the game and not once did I find myself bored with having to climb buildings before jumping down and killing two guards at once. Optional extras such as finding tombs to unlock ancient armour brings a taste of Prince of Persia as these sections require Ezio to use his speed and leap to climb the tallest buildings in the game.. from the inside!

Another nice feature is the ability to buy and upgrade your look and weapons as well as owning your very own castle, complete with small community to rule. Upgrading your castle gives you more income and improves the wealth and perks received from your people. This adds a personal dimension to the game and stores were lacking from the original.


There is quite literally hundreds of things to do and discover in Assassin's Creed II. The huge cities are packed with feathers and people to help and being the local friendly Assassin does not get old. The only thing missing is some sort of multiplayer or incentive to continue once you have 100% completed the game like I have. The story is so good that Ubisoft basically has another $60 in their pockets once you finish the final sequence.

What was a nice game has been turned into a Triple A title with this outstanding sequel. Assassin's Creed II has built on the solid foundations of the original and has delivered one of the best games I have ever played. I found it tough to eject Assassin's Creed II until I had finished the game completely. If you found the original tedious, this will solve all your problems. Newcomers can pick up the game here and quickly catch onto the story as it is explained to you all over again. You can't possibly miss the chance to play this game. You won't regret it.

Graphics - 9.5/10
Sound - 9/10
Gameplay - 10/10
Overall - 9.5/10