Sunday, February 14, 2010

Title: Assassin’s Creed 2
Release Date: November 17, 2009
Genre: Action, Stealth
Rating: M for Mature
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft

The Assassin’s Creed series is slowly taking the top spot in the Stealth/Action genre, a genre that was once secured by Splinter Cell. Assassin’s Creed 2 follows the story of Ezio, in ancient Europe, as he attempts to discover his father’s sorted past and seek revenge against anyone who wronged his family.

The first thing I noticed about Assassin’s Creed 2 is its subtle differences from the first Assassin’s Creed game. For starters, there is a lot less time spent outside of the Animus. The Animus is a machine that transports you into the role of an old time assassin. For those unfamiliar with this series, you play as a man in the modern day who experiences the life of an assassin through Animus. In the first game it seemed like there was as much time as the assassin as there was listening to the doctors explain things to you. These breaks in the action really took away from the enjoyability of the game. This time around they got it right, the first 30 minutes or so are spent outside of the Animus but after that, you go for a number of hours before you ever leave the machine.

The graphics are beautiful, even prettier then Jennifer Love Hewitt. This game takes advantage of everything the Xbox 360 has to offer, graphically speaking. Controls are good but I sometimes had a hard time nailing down precision jumps and angles when trying to escape from guards. Sounds are great, ambient sounds are great. Even the music is so subtle you barely notice it is there.

The game’s action sequences are quite a lot of fun, but it takes a number of hours before you really get into the action. The open world aspects really extend the gamer’s play time, but they are no substitute for the assassination missions. Throughout you learn aspects on your family’s past and end up seeking revenge on those who have wronged them in the past. With your uncle’s help, as well as many other people’s help you travel to different areas to seek out and eliminate these enemies. In between kills you can do things for money such as delivering letters, killing messengers and completing assassination contracts. There are also a ton of hidden objects scattered all over all cities, each collectable will earn you something the more of them you find. If all are collected your character will receive great bonuses like strong armor or more health. You can also spend money to upgrade the town, which brings more visitors and again earns more money.

This brings me to one of the minor problems I found in the game. At an early stage Ezio leaves his companion to visit his girlfriend. During this cinematic the player has to use button presses to make him kiss and remove her clothing, among other things… My problem is that the game never really shows anything worth mentioning. Now I’m not saying there needs to be gratuitous nudity or anything but the game already has a Mature rating and it’s not as if showing a little T&A is going to make it send the rating into the Adults Only bracket. All I’m saying is you took the effort to add this scene to the game, but didn’t go to any attempts to actually make it exciting. As a matter of fact there are multiple instances of the “f-bomb” appearing in game as well as a discussion about an inspiring artist in town where Ezio’s mother tells him he needs to find an outlet. Ezio responds with “I have many outlets,” which allows his mother to quip “I meant other then vaginas.”

If you’ve never played the first Assassin’s Creed, I would suggest playing it before trying Assassin’s Creed 2. The game tries to fill you in on what happened the first time around, but it’s not a very good attempt. I played some of the first game shortly after it was released and I hardly remember any of it which has lead to some confusing moments. It isn’t an absolute must to play the first game, but I would highly recommend it for maximum gaming enjoyment.

Assassin’s Creed 2 is available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. This game is an excellent example of everything an action game should be. Long, involving, hard to put down and full of extras. This is one of the few games I’ve played lately that I’ve had to keep playing and playing until I was done since it was so damned enjoyable. You’d be foolish if you didn’t at least give it a rent.

Overall Rating: *****

The Gaming Savant, Ryan Smith


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