Assassin’s Creed II is – obviously – sequel to Ubisoft hit Assassin’s Creed, released back in November 2007. The original title garnered plenty of hype, but despite being a great game, it never quite lived up to expectation. What Assassin’s Creed managed however was to set up a game universe so clever that it begged a sequel and now that sequel is here, in the form of the aptly titled Assassin’s Creed II.
So what’s the story?
Assassin’s Creed II has two settings, the here and now, or rather 2012 where hero Desmond Miles escapes the questionable researchers at Abstergo with lab assistant Lucy Stillman and her cohorts Shaun Hastings and Rebecca Crane. As with the previous title Miles is able to enter The Animus, a computer system that allows 2012 Miles to connect with the memories of his ancestor, in this case one Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a handsome, Italian rogue who hails from Renaissance Italy. The story is actually deeper than this, with puzzles revolving around an ancient artifact, but it would be remiss of me to spoil any of this convoluted story for you, suffice to say, it’s very good.
For the most part you take on the role of the handsome Ezio, as he deals with the fallout of his family being screwed over by an Italian tyrant, in an overarching political plot involving the Templars and the Assassin’s. The game mechanic is essentially a third person action adventure set within an open world. You run, walk, climb, jump and swim, not to mention sporting various weapons and other gizmos to aid you as you slowly train to become a great assassin.
Although this is essentially a linear game, it feels less restricted due to the huge landscape you have at your disposal. It is the free-roaming aspect of Assassin’s Creed II that makes it such a wonderful experience. You are led into a beautiful open world, with characters and a story that keep you interested throughout. Our hero Ezio is as charming as he is handsome, which gives you a connection to him and his life.
Speaking of which, the world Ezio inhabits is astounding. Environments are sprawling and so finely detailed you’ll even hear the sound of boot heel on ancient roof tile. The people in the world too are characters within themselves, with cities full of passers by, all of whom bring more depth to proceedings. The NPC character models are astounding and unlike many games where interaction is little, the actually lend themselves to one of the games cool additions, the ability for Ezio to blend. Find a group of people and step into their midst to hide from guards. Hire and walk with the towns whores, or just tag along with a group going your way. As well as blending their are other sweet touches, but honestly, I’d rather you found these out for yourself, rather than spoiling them, this after all is a review and not a walkthrough.
Female Gamer Angle
There are female characters in Assassin’s Creed II, however it is really only the real world character of Lucy Stillman (voiced and modeled on actress Kristen Bell) and her lab pal Rebecca Crane who avoid being a stereotypical woman in the gaming universe. All of the woman (with the exception of two we won’t cover due to storyline spoilage) are essentially the wife being cheated on, the mourning wife, stay at home sister, love interest and of course whores aplenty. To some degree Assassin’s Creed II can be forgiven this gender wrong due to the Renaissance setting, a place it seems where women were women and husbands couldn’t keep it in their pants.
Overall Assassin’s Creed II is a must buy for many a reason. It’s a wonderful addition to the Assassin’s Creed tale, it is a massive title with in-depth stories and wonderful characters. The main character of Ezio is so charming he lends himself in an emotional manner to the player, which happens rarely in videogames. The only thing letting Assassin’s Creed II down in any way is some texture pop-up issues, but this is a fairly minor complaint when the rest of the game is so expansive and immersive. This is a wonderful addition to the franchise, here’s hoping Assassin’s Creed III sports a female assassin, after-all not all of Desmond’s ancestors were male surely? Go buy this if you haven’t already.
Review by Angela