If you like the original Assassin’s Creed, then you’re really going to like Assassin’s Creed 2. This review is pretty short and mainly focuses on areas I felt were improvements over the original game. I’m also going to warn you now, that this might contain some spoilers, as I’m not very considerate during reviews so as to be vague and not really tell you anything you didn’t already know, but I won’t really be discussing the main story line at least, but still, if you want to know nothing about this game, then you probably shouldn’t read any reviews.
Ok, having said that, now on to the review:
Ubisoft has done a great job extending the story of the first Assassin’s Creed by maintaining all of the capabilities you grew accustomed to, improving the world in which you move (fewer blue walls), and then adding capabilities either in the form of gadget upgrade (unlike in the first Assassin’s Creed by the fact you lost all your weapons and had to earn them back) or by attaining a skill from clues left by your father early on in the game. Also there are plenty of inherent abilities you get to use right away. *spoiler: You don’t even start off with the Assassin’s uniform to begin with. You do, however, get to do things an assassin knows how to do, climbing, jumping, stealth, etc)*
Another thing in Assassin’s Creed 2 that is very welcome, at least to me, is that the environment is much improved. Not only can you now *swim*, hugely important in my opinion and would’ve been nice to have in the original Assassin’s Creed, but you can also use your environment a bit more. One thing that you will notice from your first fight against someone who has a weapon, and you don’t, is that you can pick up their weapons and use them. This persists through the rest of the game as well. So if you needed that weapon upgrade, you might just be able to find it. And since we’re on the subject of upgrades, there are now shops to frequent in AC2. They come in the form of :
3. Art Dealer
You don’t get to experience these shops right away, but you will notice them from the beginning, and you are even introduced to the use of the doctor fairly quickly after beginning the game. Another thing that is a nice to have in this game is the introduction of a money system. I mean, how else can you visit a shop if you don’t have any money for a
cheesburger upgrade, right? Money can even be used as a primary weapon in the game as the idea of blending has also changed.
Blending and Spending
In Assassin’s Creed 2, you’ll be introduced to the idea of blending in an entirely new way. Long gone are the days of hit the button and watch yourself walk with monks automatically. You must now actually manipulate your environment in a much more rich and fulfilling manner. I can’t think of any time in this game where Ezio is just put on a robotic path, even during some of story progression scenes. So, blending has been greatly improved and you will get taught how to do this in-game as well. Very well done too btw because it helps progress the story too. Ubisoft took great care to when developing the manner in which you interact with the environment and the game itself, and this particular sequence shows it. And because you have money, you will be able to hire a few different kinds of folks to help you accomplish your task. Money can be used to help you blend, pay people off, and prevent bad things from happening to you.
Secrets and Crypts
AC2 also now has a few secret areas you get to uncover. These are typically on the way to do something important so it’s not too much of a side quest. The idea Assassin’s Crypts are new to this game too and you will find one or more of them in just about every location you go to. My advice, do them as soon as you possibly can. You get a really awesome reward for doing so, and they are very challenging maps. Well worth the time spent to accomplish these tasks. Another piece to the game, speaking of secrets, is that there is are hidden pictures throughout the game which unlock some amount of information. Once you complete the secret challenge, you get that piece of information to store away in the animus “Truth” file. These are also very challenging to find, but offer a great amount of fun in doing so, and maybe just a little bit of frustration.
Some of the challenges and “missions” if you can call them that in AC2, as there aren’t too many *must do* type missions, is that you want to find what are known as “Cryptex Pages”. Encrypted pages of text either hidden or guarded which you must get in order to accomplish one of the final tasks of the game. Not finding them will make the game impossible to beat, but the “fun ones” are the ones you’ll show to your good friend Leonardo Davinci. I don’t want to give too much away about that, but he is also an integral part of the game, at least for a while.
Another “interesting” aspect to this game is that you also have a city to maintain. Yes, a city, really. It’s about the size of the Assassin’s city in the original Assassin’s Creed, but you have to make money to maintain the city which is important to the progression of the game, and you’ll see what that looks like when you actually play the game. One thing though, they really could have gone a lot further with this in the game as it is well done, but not very deep. Once the town is up to snuff, it doesn’t degrade so you only have to keep it up for a little while, and then it’s done and you earn a trophy. It’s cool, but I don’t see much how it plays into the overall story, except to have a nice place to spend you non-killing days in.
This was a short review, but I wanted to touch on the main areas of improvement and interest in AC2 that I felt made the game much of what it is. The sandbox feels much more open than anything in AC1, so much so it really feels like a whole new game, not just a sequel, except where the main story is concerned. Even that is much improved as well, but I will tell you I didn’t like the ending enough. It was good, it was an ending, but it could be much better, and I hope AC3 will give us some finality, or allusion to the next installment.
If you’ve never played AC1, this is a good starting place into the franchise for sure and you won’t be disappointed if you appreciate the style of gameplay and if you’re an AC1 veteran, you’ll enjoy the massive improvements in all areas of the franchise.
Stay tuned for my next review on Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time