Assassin’s Creed 2

Being unemployed at the moment after graduating from college in May, I have an awful lot of free time on my hands, meaning I bowl two nights a week, I work two nights a week, and pretty much the rest of my time is my own.  As such I’ve been tearing through a ton of books (I think I’m up to about 20 since the beginning of June) and for the past couple of days I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed 2 for the PS3.  I’m going to do a review for the game here, and to do it I’m going to modify my book review structure.

Characters

You play as Ezio Auditore de Firenze (spellcheck in wordpress doesn’t like his name very much) who is an assassin in renaissance Italy.  The game begins with him being fairly young and you follow as he grows up and seeks revenge on those who killed his family (yes its a spoiler, but it happens about 25-30 minutes into the game, so it’s not a bad spoiler).  He was an interesting if not terribly deep character, but you read books for character development, you play games to control the action.

Setting

The game begins in Florence, and you’ll spend some time in a couple of smaller towns and then the next large part of the game is in Venice and then finally you finish the game in Rome.  All of the cities are huge but at times it was frustrating going through some of the extra stuff having to backtrack over the huge cities over and over again.

Plot

The plot for this game is fairly simple, the revenge plot for Ezio.  However, the game also deals with Desmond from the first game (in modern times, experiencing his ancestor’s past through the animus machine) and it’s something that I’m not going to get into because it would spoil too much to discuss it.

Controls

The gameplay is very smooth, but at times it can be frustrating.  There were countless times when I was trying to run along a path and Ezio would jump slightly off the path that I wanted him to go on.  In some cases, this caused me to fall off the building that I was on, setting me back a bit.  There were also several times where I would be trying to jump a certain way and he would run up a wall, this was very irritating by the end of the game.

My biggest complaint about the controls and the game in general was the fighting.  While it was slightly improved from the first game, that’s really not saying much.  Yes this game is about assassinations, and many of your goals in the game are about staying hidden right until the moment when you kill your target.  There are also many times when you have to fight as many as 10 or 12 enemies at once and your only way of fighting them in to wait and counterattack them as they attack you.  This is irritating especially later in the game when you fight different types of enemies who require you to use different weapons (for example, many of the enemies using swords or maces you can kill easily with your sword, however, some of the enemies later in the game use lances or have heavy armor and for these enemies the easiest way to kill them is you use your fists and steal their weapon and then kill them with their own weapon).

Enjoyment

So many parts of this game were absolutely brilliant, sadly, there was just too much in the game.  Along with the assassinations for the main plot, there are also about 350 treasures throughout the game that each have a small amount of money in them.  This is helpful early on but completely pointless by the end of the game, where you have more money than you could possibly spend.  There are also dozens of other side missions in the game.  This game would have been better with about 1/3 of the number of these missions, because with all of them it just ended up being way too much for the game.  Another odd thing about the game is that I was able to acquire the ultimate armor before I could buy all of the pieces of armor in the set before it.  There were also a couple of times during the game where I was getting really pissed off at the game and it took a fair amount of willpower to not throw my controller through the TV.  Another part of the game deals with restoring your family household.  This requires a fair amount of money throughout the game but you are rewarded because your estate gives you money every 20 minutes of gameplay.  This is a nice change, but again once you’re about 1/2 through the game you’ll have everything fully restores and you just spend the rest of the game collecting money.  My last complaint is that too many characters just disappear throughout the story only to reappear at the end for a very contrived part of the story just before your last assassination.

Overall Grade

Brilliance at times, but there is too much in the game if you have any plans on trying to get everything in the game.  If they had cleaned up a couple of the mechanics more and cut the extracurricular parts of the game to 1/3 of what they were in the final version it would have been a much stronger game.  As it is, much like with the first Assassin’s Creed, I’m glad I played it, but I don’t see myself ever going back and playing it again.

7/10

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