Assassin's Creed 2 [Review]

Assassin’s Creed 2 is the sequel to 2007’s Assassin’s Creed. Released first on PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2009, the PC release followed in 2010. Assassin’s Creed 2 was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. This review covers the Microsoft Windows version from Steam where it’s currently selling for $20.

In the second installment of the Assassin’s Creed series, we move away from Altaïr’s Holy Lands and into 15th century Italy, where we play as Ezio Auditore da Firenze, an Italian nobleman turned assassin. This means a new setting, a new protagonist, a new story, and, best of all, no cumbersome umlauts to type like in Altaïr.

Assassin’s Creed 2 returns to its original above-average gameplay, noticeably in the improvement to combat and free-running. Freely moving around the world changed in order to be a little less awkward -- the bits when Ezio climbs a tower, gaining a mini-map of the surrounding area, now cover more land and are thankfully less frequent. The combat has also been changed to allow more enemies types and gratuitous weapons. Gratuitous always seems to be followed by bloodshed, and AC2 doesn't fail to deliver.

Ezio Auditore da Firenze seeks revenge against the people who killed his father and brothers. Unlike the original Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft spent quality time crafting a superb story in AC2. Ezio is a far more dynamic protagonist than Altaïr and the whole cast is characterized well. The framing story involving Desmond Miles and Abstergo also returns. This time around Desmond shows more of a personality and not just in a room with only two other people -- he is put into a colorful room with three other people in it! So the story is absorbing and keeps the action going. What more can you really ask for in an action game?

"At the end of the day there’s very little Assassin’s Creed 2 does wrong."

New features of AC2 include the addition of a currency system. This allows the player to buy weapons and armor with money earned through missions, treasure chests, and pickpocketing. The player can pick and choose what they want instead of just being handed something after every assassination mission. In theory, it allows the player to customize Ezio to fit their gameplay style and it does accomplish that to a degree, but it really falls apart with the weapon selection. All the weapons in the game have different stats that tell you which one is fastest, strongest, whatever, but just buying the ones with the best all-around stats will save you from worrying about the 80% less useful weapons in the game.

Another addition to AC2 is the notoriety mechanic. Whenever a guard sees Ezio do something illegal then a little square fills in the top of the screen. When it is full, every guard will immediately attack him. If you want to lose notoriety, then you have to bribe heralds, kill false witnesses, or tear down wanted posters.

The final two new features worth mentioning are the addition of fast travel system and the Villa Auditore. In AC2 the player can fast travel to any of the cities they have already experienced. Fast travel is optional, so travel by horse is still available, though outside of fondness for 15th century Italian countryside there isn't any reason to. Villa Auditore is the player’s homebase. At the Villa, you can select equipment and play a type of city building metagame by investing money in buying and upgrading shops in the nearby village. With the money you invested into your Villa, ten percent of your total returns every 20 minutes. It doesn’t really add anything other than an incentive to play the game (or at least idle in it).

AC2 is a good game that leans more towards being great game. By improving on its predecessor in the gameplay, story, reducing bugs, fixing problems with the original, and even improving on what was already good, AC2 is an awesome 20+ hour experience that can be recommend to anybody. At the end of the day there’s very little Assassin’s Creed 2 does wrong.

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