Assassin's Creed 2

The original Assassin's Creed was a prototype. This is clear after finishing Assassin's Creed 2, which is better in every respect, whether it's improving features from the first game or rolling them up in a carpet and throwing them off a bridge. I've never been so happy to be free of monologues by boring old men and galloping across endless plains before finally getting back to doing something marginally interesting.

Rather than drop 4000 words about how much I've enjoyed Ubisoft's latest, let's get right to the meat of it: Are you the sort of person who should buy Assassin's Creed 2? Let's explore a few perspectives.

Assassin’s Creed Was Awesome

Off you go, then. There’s even more to do and explore than the original and every element has been improved. Even if you only do half of what’s available, you can easily sink 20 hours into the game without breaking a sweat and you'll have a great time doing it.

Assassin’s Creed Was Two Hours of Fun Wrapped in Ten Hours of Monotony

It sure was! I outlined some of my issues with Assassin’s Creed by way of some fake patch notes I’d made hoping they would “fix” the game. The good news is that most of the issues I had were either addressed directly or completely removed.

Gone are the long, trudging treks from the fortress to the overland map where there’s nothing to do but collects flags and try to avoid spooking enemy soldiers. After finishing a story mission, you are always placed in the vicinity of the next plot point, assuming you want to get straight to it. Unlike the original, where the “side missions” were stale busywork at best, the extra activities are both fun and relevant to the overall story. They’re also better at adding context to the world you're exploring, giving you some interesting (and optional) facts about some major landmarks and their place in history.

A good example of this would be the hidden glyphs that some landmarks have on their walls. When you approach one, you'll enter a puzzle section that can be anything from spotting commonalities between famous paintings to solving alphanumeric riddles. The payoff is more insight into the greater conspiracy that informs the whole story.

Same goes for things like codex pages, which were written by someone players of the first game are familiar with. Even the “collect 100 flags!” pointlessness has been tweaked. There are still 100 of a certain item to collect throughout the world, but it’s optional and there is some story payoff to finding them all.

A small word of advice for the sufferers of OCD: Don’t feel pressured to hit every vantage point and collect every treasure chest right away. Let some of that stuff happen when you’re in the area anyways, you’ll be surprised at how much ground you need to cover during the course of the story.

The Modern Day Stuff Was Stupid and Boring

It had its moments, but I tend to agree. Thankfully, you’ll spend a lot less time in jeans talking to boring people who don't want to tell you anything. The moments you do spend out of the animus are short and worthwhile.

I Came For The Stabbing, I Ran Away From The Races

It's no secret that one of the most egregious faults of the original game was having to slog through junk like pick pocket missions and following random NPCs to unlock the next assassination target. While these elements still exist in the game, they're usually small aspects of an overall mission that's in progress. You may follow someone for a while so you can see who they meet with before you stab them in the neck, but you'll never have to do it to a random NPC for no good reason. The side missions remain if you choose to pursue them for a bit of extra cash, though. Assassination side missions in particular are worth doing since they can often result in rooftop chases as you try to overtake a target who is just as nimble and ready to climb as you are.

One of my favorite side missions is completely random. Rather than find the glowing start point on the map, you may incidentally spot an enemy courier running by. If you give chase, he'll climb buildings and do whatever he can to escape. If you catch him, you get a nice little bit of money. If you don't, no big deal, just carry on with your day. Going from strolling down the street to tackling a passing target is delightful if you can get the timing right.

Have Human Beings Learned How To Swim Yet?
They sure have. They can dive underwater to avoid enemies too.

I Couldn’t Stand The First Game And I Hate Open Worlds

Assassin’s Creed 2 is not going to transcend anyone’s dislike of the open world genre. However, if anyone says “It’s like Grand Theft: History!” to you like that’s some kind of selling point, feel free to laugh and tell them they’re intellectually lazy. This is NOT Grand Theft Horse & Carriage. This is a game about subtlety, exploration and bursts of frantic action.

Even if you’re simply apathetic about the genre, it’s possible the story and the detailed rendering of 15th century Italy will carry you through. I dare say that I learned quite a bit about the major historical figures of the time and some of the landmarks that continue to draw thousands of tourists every year.

The plot itself goes well beyond the scope of the first game, both in content and delivery. No longer will you prowl back and forth like a caged tiger while an old bearded man delivers five minutes of raw, unadulterated exposition. The post-assassination chats are mercifully brief and the cutscenes keep it snappy. The greater depth in the story is available for anyone who wants to read codex entries and uncover some greater truths, but that stuff is all optional when it comes to actually finishing the game. I’d recommend pursuing it, though. Some of it is pretty wild.

I Will Never Play This Game

Yeah, well I’ll never play your stupid face!

Final Thoughts For Skimmers

Assassin's Creed 2 has transformed the rough sculpture of the original into Michelangelo's David. It's a rare game that equally supports the story-driven player and the lover of open worlds to explore. No matter how you decide to play, you'll be glad you did.

I give it 9.7 metacritics out of 10.

Comments

"I Will Never Play This Game

Yeah, well I’ll never play your stupid face!"

Well played, sir!

beeporama wrote:

Yep, Ezio from Assassin's Creed 2 is totally Batman.

Ouch. However, I've learned not to look for all that much originality in game stories or characters. If you're going to model your hero on someone, Batman is better than Aquaman.

Funkenpants wrote:
beeporama wrote:

Yep, Ezio from Assassin's Creed 2 is totally Batman.

Ouch. However, I've learned not to look for all that much originality in game stories or characters. If you're going to model your hero on someone, Batman is better than Aquaman.

Is he? By all accounts, Aquaman wouldn't have been a bad model for the first Assassin's Creed. Or GTAIII. Or Thief: Deadly Shadows.

Why are you all trying to make me buy this?

How is the climbing? My main problem with the first one was that the game was essentially two things. Climbing involved solely holding the thumbstick forward and occasionally turning the camera and combat involved waiting for someone to attack and hitting counter. I've heard that combat is more interesting, is the climbing part any more involved?

PandaEskimo wrote:

Climbing involved solely holding the thumbstick forward and occasionally turning the camera and combat involved waiting for someone to attack and hitting counter. I've heard that combat is more interesting, is the climbing part any more involved?

For the first half of the game the climbing is no different and than changes only slightly once you learn a special skill. From what I remember the combat feels exactly the same.

PandaEskimo wrote:

Why are you all trying to make me buy this?

How is the climbing? My main problem with the first one was that the game was essentially two things. Climbing involved solely holding the thumbstick forward and occasionally turning the camera and combat involved waiting for someone to attack and hitting counter. I've heard that combat is more interesting, is the climbing part any more involved?

It's kinda that way, but it requires a little more finesse this time around. Lets just put it this way, I've fallen off way more buildings in the sequel due to my total inability to go "Oh gee, that gap looks a bit larger than I can handle!"

Courier/Pickpocket random races made me really appreciate the intensity and flow to the way it was setup.

PandaEskimo wrote:

Why are you all trying to make me buy this?

How is the climbing? My main problem with the first one was that the game was essentially two things. Climbing involved solely holding the thumbstick forward and occasionally turning the camera and combat involved waiting for someone to attack and hitting counter. I've heard that combat is more interesting, is the climbing part any more involved?

There are also a lot more platforming type puzzles (usually in optional quests), where you have to climb from A to B jump from B to C to D to F, walk a tightrope to G and jump to your death because you didn't see H and went straight for Q (they're pretty good about giving you checkpoints somewhere close to G).

Also, quite a few of the taller buildings require a little more lateral motion. Climb up a story, then shimmy around the corner and climb up another 2 stories, shimmy around to the far side and climb to the top. It can make smaller buildings take a little longer to climb, but adds a different dynamic than hold up for 2 minutes.

Just finished the game, and while it is better than the 1st game I still stand by my original statement. Since the Assassins Creed there have been two games that do both of the major game mechanics better. They seriously need to look at copying those games for the 3rd inevitable sequel.

I found the climbing and free running more finicky this time around and often frustrating when doing the some of the side missions, especially the timed ones.

And yet you want it to be more like Mirror's Edge, the ultimate in finicky running and climbing controls. Amazing, you catch Ubisoft coming and going with those kind of demands

Certis wrote:

And yet you want it to be more like Mirror's Edge, the ultimate in finicky running and climbing controls. Amazing, you catch Ubisoft coming and going with those kind of demands ;)

Mirrors Edge free running wasn't finicky, it was more complex. And because it was more complex it gave you greater control of what your character could do in the world.

AC 2 system is very simplistic and so it relies on a lot of automation on the part of the game. Unfortunately the area's you are running through can get pretty cluttered and you often find your guy doesn't go where you want but instead does a 90 degree turn into the water. It can get a little frustrating when you are chasing someone down or doing some of the race side missions.

I can't see how Mirror's Edge can compare to a 3rd person platforming (what a terrible word) game. Mirror's Edge worked only in as far as you could look at precisely what you wanted to jump towards or slide under and then execute the action. I don't think you could have any level of precision in a 3rd person game and definitely not while the camera is moving. A 3rd person game could implement the move up and move down buttons and possibly the look the other way button which would be interesting. I don't know what good that would all do, since the only way it really differs from a 3rd person game is that most 3rd person games don't have sliding and rolling like Mirror's Edge.

I would really enjoy Price of Persia: The Two Thrones combined with the open world of Assassins Creed, but that doesn't seem like the direction Ubisoft is headed. I think that provides a good level of control where you still feel like your doing the jumping and climbing. I thought the combat was pretty fun too.

If AC played like Mirror's Edge it would be an indescribable mess. The parkour in AC is a means of travel, not the focus of the game. If ever single obstacle was treated like they are in ME, it'd be a 4000 hour long game of wall punching frustration.

Gaald wrote:

Mirrors Edge free running wasn't finicky, it was more complex.

Ohhh, now I get it.

Gaald wrote:

Mirrors Edge free running wasn't finicky, it was more complex. And because it was more complex it gave you greater control of what your character could do in the world.

The Mirror's Edge demo, at the very least, was definitely finicky. There was a section where you had to jump from a rooftop and grab a pipe on a building across the way. I did that more than a dozen times, at first trying the same strategy, thinking I was just missing, a few times spent trying other things, looking for other handholds, etc. Eventually I just went back to what my instincts were telling me, which was the first method, and I finally caught the pipe. It seemed arbitrary, and the only reason I remember that so clearly is because it was what made me not buy it.

NSMike wrote:

It seemed arbitrary, and the only reason I remember that so clearly is because it was what made me not buy it.

I think these moments in Mirror's Edge become fewer and fewer especially once you get a hang of the controls. I had the same feeling from the demo, but while playing the game, I didn't have much problem.

The common complaint with Mirror's Edge, and one that I agree with, is that the combat is unnecessary and gets in the way. I think there were some interesting combat ideas that could apply to other games such as sliding and rolling into enemies, but the execution was too difficult and meant that I often picked up a gun in order to kill a few people whenever I missed a jump and had to slow down.

As long as this one isn't as repetitive as the first I will probably like it. To me the first Assassin's creed was one mission repeated over and over and I made it just over half way before quitting.

Gaald wrote:

Mirrors Edge free running wasn't finicky, it was more complex. And because it was more complex it gave you greater control of what your character could do in the world.

AC 2 system is very simplistic and so it relies on a lot of automation on the part of the game. Unfortunately the area's you are running through can get pretty cluttered and you often find your guy doesn't go where you want but instead does a 90 degree turn into the water. It can get a little frustrating when you are chasing someone down or doing some of the race side missions.

I feel like the world of Assassin's Creed 2 is far more crafted than that of Mirror's Edge, which makes it stand apart. For instance, they make it pretty obvious that when you see a white cloth, you're also seeing essentially a portal to a freerunning "sequence", a series of connected jump points that are basically designed to work flawlessly. Of course, you're right in that it's not always flawless, but typically these markings are pretty good indicators of some of the prescribed paths.

Mirror's Edge also has prescribed paths, don't get me wrong. But I think that it's a little more inherent in the context of Mirror's Edge to be experimental and avoid the demarcated orange paths. However, there's no balcony or secondary edge in the environments of Mirror's Edge; there are actually a ridiculous abundance of bottomless pits of death. When one mistake can kill you instantly a great percentage of the time, I feel like the platforming is indeed a little more finicky.

Assassin's Creed 2 not only has more prescribed paths, but it also gives you room to stumble. If you miss a ledge because you accidentally jumped off a building the wrong way, you can hold the B button to grab onto a window as you fall towards the ground.

I think Virtual Shackles sums this up really well.

IMAGE(http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/9397/assassinsedge.jpg)

I just want to post somewhere that I absolutely love this game. I own the original, but never spent more than 40 minutes with it. This second version is outstanding!

Ok, I feel better now that I have that off my chest.

I finally put this game to bed last night. Didn't get all the feathers (seriously, screw that), but I did complete all the side missions, and finish all of the optional story stuff like The Truth, getting Altair's Armor, etc.

Great game. Absolutely love it. Happy to be done with it, but it was many hours very well spent.

Can anyone explain to me why the console versions of this game are $39, and the new PC version is $59?

AC2 =/= MW2

What's with this $59 price point trend in certain PC games lately?

The $59 price point is reportedly for the inclusion of the DLC that is out for the console release at the moment, the extra $10 covering that over the price of a normal new PC release.

NSMike wrote:

The $59 price point is reportedly for the inclusion of the DLC that is out for the console release at the moment, the extra $10 covering that over the price of a normal new PC release.

Ah, didn't know about that. Thanks.

Given the ludicrous DRM restrictions on the upcoming PC version (which you've probably already read about - if not, here ya go) and the fact that this game can be had right now, new, for under $40 for the 360 or PS3 on Amazon, charging $60 for the PC version is laughable no matter what the justification is.

Assassin's Creed I, I loved on the PC - it looked better, ran great, came with additional content that the console game didn't have, and came out at the PC's usual lower-than-console price point.

My plan had been to sell my ACII 360 copy and pick it up for the PC on release, so that I could enjoy it there like I did the first game, but Ubisoft just keeps coming up with reasons for me not to - no new content, almost literally insane DRM, and a higher price? No thanks.

Good game, Ubi. I'll look forward to the press release where you claim that the low PC sales for the game are still due to piracy.

NSMike wrote:

The $59 price point is reportedly for the inclusion of the DLC that is out for the console release at the moment, the extra $10 covering that over the price of a normal new PC release.

So they're forcing you to pay extra for additional content which you may or may not want. Wow, pair that with the horrible DRM, Ubisoft is on a roll lately!

shuref00t wrote:
NSMike wrote:

The $59 price point is reportedly for the inclusion of the DLC that is out for the console release at the moment, the extra $10 covering that over the price of a normal new PC release.

So they're forcing you to pay extra for additional content which you may or may not want. Wow, pair that with the horrible DRM, Ubisoft is on a roll lately!

Nope, I don't think they're forcing you to pay anything. Just don't buy it.

NSMike wrote:

Nope, I don't think they're forcing you to pay anything. Just don't buy it.

Some of us DID want to play this game, since some of us only have a PC to play games on. I strongly emphasize DID, as in I'm not paying $60, and especially not paying that price to have a constant connection to the internet play the game.

Maybe when it gets down to the $5 Steam sale that it inevitably will, THEN I will consider it.

beeporama wrote:

Oh yeah, and:

Have Human Beings Learned How To Swim Yet?
They sure have. They can dive underwater to avoid enemies too.

The manual has a tongue-in-cheek joke about this. I forget the exact wording, something like: "The Animus 2.0 software supports swimming."

The other in-game joke I liked was when Desmond was talking with the Animus tech and she said "sorry about some of the decoding, you'll notice people slipping into Italian every now and then." To which he replied "that's OK, the subtitles really help out!"

I really liked a lot of elements of the game (especially the world it created, right down to me fixing up my villa), but the controls reduced the grade I'd give AC2 to an A- or even B+. I think the game is somewhat comparable to Infamous, which had tremendous controls.

Ravenlock wrote:

My plan had been to sell my ACII 360 copy and pick it up for the PC on release, so that I could enjoy it there like I did the first game, but Ubisoft just keeps coming up with reasons for me not to - no new content, almost literally insane DRM, and a higher price? No thanks.

played the first half on 360, but then switched to the ps3 cause of the disc drive sound. =) i got the platinum a few months ago, but never played the first game, which i actually heard from a few people, was a better location and a funner game.

my thought would be if you only have a PC, don't pay more than $30 for it.
pretty fun overall, but i thought the story was weak, and ended up liking it just for the mechanics, which i hated at first (kept jumping off walls i wanted to run up - eventually got it though).

my only other gripe was there wasn't very much replay value. for example, when your in game villa is giving you lots of money every few minutes, just what are you supposed to spend it on?
am i missing a very important aspect of this game or something?