Assassin's Creed II Review
Assassin's Creed II corrects nearly all the problems of its predecessor, transports players to a beautifully realized Renaissance Italy, and results in one of the best games of 2009.
One of the most underrated aspects of this title in the lead up to its release was Ezio’s inheritance of a family villa and surrounding town that can be invested in, upgraded, and renovated in such a way that not only visually transforms the city and its citizens but grants the player new and exciting game play benefits. Acting as your base of operations, the villa gives the player a portion of the game world to call their own and to fill with the components gathered throughout the main quest. Compared to the simple and ultimately useless 100 flags of the first game, the villa plus the inclusion of a large number of collectible granting not only achievements but also additional game play and story benefits gives Assassin’s Creed II some serious legs over its predecessor.
Looking purely at story and the single player experience, Assassin’s Creed II retains the sci-fi overstory of the first while building an intricate and well thought out story in renaissance Italy. I am going to refrain from giving any substantial summary of the game’s events as evening the opening of the game is a spoiler for the first title and some events taking place just minutes into the game as something that many players wouldn’t want spoiled. That being said, the struggles between assassins and the knights templar that began in the first game is continued here. The story brings historical characters like Leonardo Da Vinci into the picture while delving the player in renaissance politics and power struggles that tend to be considerably less cut and dry than the assassination’s faced by Altair who were clearly evil from the get go. Although mention of politics may not excite many players out there, don’t be confused. This is a game purely about action and, for Ezio, revenge.
Desmond and the 2012 timeline make appearances at three logical and welcomed points throughout the game, removing the constant back-and-forth created in the first title where the player would have to shuffle around mostly empty rooms as Desmond between each assassination. Desmond is beginning to feel much more like a fully fleshed out character and only appears at times when it fits the story and there is something exciting or substantial taking place. This story structure keeps the player immersed and ultimately makes both Ezio and Desmond matter considerably more they would have in the first game.
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