"Assassin’s Creed 2" Review for the XBox 360

12/01/2009 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Ansel Newcome-Beill

Ubisoft’s 2007 release of "Assassin’s Creed" introduced us to the character of Altair and an absolutely breathtaking game in terms of graphics and narrative. However, many felt that a handful of shortcomings prevented this game from reaching its full potential. Luckily, the plot left some room for additional narrative, giving way to the recently released, and much improved follow-up, "Assassins Creed 2."

A number of changes have been instituted by Ubisoft to make this sequel a vast improvement over the original, the first of which is almost purely aesthetic. The setting for "Assassins Creed 2" jumps forward from the original by about 400 years, placing you in the role of a young nobleman named Ezio during the Renaissance era in Italy. This change alone gives the game an almost entirely new feel, looking more vibrant and alive than its predecessor, sporting more colorful environments--and amazing vistas--than the original.

This setting also provides players with entirely new environments to navigate, using Ezio’s acrobatic prowess to climb to the top of a number of historical landmarks of the era, such as the Santa Maria del Fiore and Palazzo Vecchio to name just a couple. Apart from the more obvious superficial changes to the game, there are a number of gameplay changes that have added some serious depth to the world and made for a far more engaging sequel. While assassinating or exacting vengeance on some key figure is always the overarching goal, the player now has a number of side missions to keep them distracted such as races, courier assignments and some clever assassinations to complete besides the main quest.

All this in addition to a number of collectibles give more than ample reason to explore every inch of an already incredible, living environment.

There are numerous new features that allow the player to interact with the world in a more realistic fashion, the first of which is the addition of money and shops in which to spend it, where the player can buy upgrades to their armor, weaponry or completely frivolous pieces of art to place in a villa in which the player can upgrade with shops to make money for them. The people who inhabit the world also act in a far more realistic manner, forming random groups or going about their business individually, which in turn makes the blending feature much more organic, allowing the player to seamlessly slip in and out of crowds wherever they may be present.

A number of allies also are available for hire in this world to make life easier, such as courtesans who can distract guards so you can slip into restricted areas unnoticed, or mercenaries who will fight by your side when things get hostile. Like the original "Assassin’s Creed," Ezio will also come into contact with some real historical figures from the era, such Niccolo Machiavelli, Pope Alexander and Leonardo DeVinci, all of whom provide the player with some different gadgets and tactical options for fighting their way out of trouble. Ezio, like Altair from the original, has the hidden blade, which he can eventually upgrade to a double blade that allows for some pretty gruesome and effective assassinations.

There also are a number of different weapon classes with distinct pros and cons, such as pole arms, maces and spears, but perhaps the most effective weapon at Ezio’s disposal are his fists, which have the unique ability of robbing opponents of their weapons and performing brutal and effective counter kills. All of these tools come in handy against the more varied enemies that the player will encounter, each of whom are more intelligent, employ different tactics against Ezio and forces the player to react accordingly.  "Tanks” require the player to be stealthy or face a heavily armed and armored opponent, and “agiles” will chase the player across free running elements if they attempt to escape. While this may not appeal to everyone, the narrative and the way in which the story of "Assassin’s Creed 2," while very much unchanged from the original is the continuation of an excellent and engaging story, which I can’t wait to see develop into something even more epic.

With it’s numerous improvements and additions, one could easily change the title of this game to “Assassin’s Creed 2: Much Improved” and makes it easy to recommend to both fans and naysayers of the original, serving as a shining example of what sequels should aspire to be.

View the trailer for "Assassin's Creed 2" below.  Thoughts?

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  1. Nina said...

    I definitely loved this one better than the first. Now I can't wait for the next one!

  2. David said...

    I hope it's better than the first one, which was basically GTA in mideivel times. Run here, grab that. Push through crowd. Climb this building for the Nth time.