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Assassin's Creed II

By Bobfish23-08-2012
Leigh Cobb (editor)
Blankdoor (editor)

The Defence

Ubisoft Montreal
Action, Adventure, Platformer
Release Date:
US 09-03-2010
EU 05-03-2010

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo E6700
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+
Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT
AMD Radeon HD 4700
2 GB
8 GB

The Case

Everyone knew it was coming. Despite the complaints about the first game, mostly regarding the somewhat repetitive nature of the gameplay, it sold extremely well. So the only real question before us, was not if the game would be made, or even when. But would Ubisoft listen to their player base, and address the issues raised?

The Trial

Despite the constant insistence, by many fans, that the second game would be set in Japan, because of the Japanese (it’s actually traditional Chinese) writing Desmond finds on his bedroom wall...we find ourselves, this time, in fifteenth century Italy. Where we step into the shoes of a young Florentine nobelman, Ezio Auditore da’Firenze. To be honest, he bugs the crap out of me. Nothing against the character really, he just grates on my nerves. All arrogant charm and needless machismo. So very typical of the men of the time.

Whatchoo' talkin' 'bout Willis?

Whatchoo' talkin' 'bout Willis?

His tale, however, is extremely compelling. And there’s a lot more underneath the facade, because that’s really what it is. Considering everything he has to go through, right at the beginning of the game, it’s amazing that he doesn’t fall apart completely. Seeing all of the immediate male members of your family, including a thirteen year old boy, hanged for the very crimes they were tyring to expose...yeah, that’s gonna’ leave a mark. This is the setup for our second outing with the Animus. Pushing the tale ever forwards, and revealing some quite startling insights to the world within the games confines.

Let me say, straight out, that Ubi did indeed listen to the complaints. The game plays out, actually, in a much more linear fashion. Mostly flowing from one mission to the next, barring a few occasions where several tasks must be completed. Such as gathering your forces and clearing guards before assaulting a city for example. But the variety of tasks available is much more, well, varied. All of the missions from the first game are back, with chases and flag collecting no longer being story missions thankfully. As well as a whole slew of others, such as tailing nobles and infiltrating hideouts.

On top of this, and adding even further variety, are the sideline missions. None of which are necessary to complete the story, but offer a change of pace. And ample opportunity to hone your parkour and assassination skills. Pigeon coups give you targets to kill, abused and jealous women ask you to beat up their abusive or cheating spouse, that kind of thing. There has also been a nifty addition of a monetary system. This allows you to purchase better weapons and armour, and make upgrades to the Firenze manor of Monterrigioni. Though, as with many games, money rapidly becomes far too easy to come by. Still, it’s a nice touch.



Graphically, the game is about equal to the first. Some of the more advanced lighting and particle effects are missing, as the game now runs solely in Dx9. But the engine has been tweaked and improved, allowing for even larger environments, more variety of textures, and an overall increase in visual fidelity. It’s a little behind in some areas, pushed forward in others. Net result, it comes off about the same. Though it doesn’t tug at your system quite so much due to better optimisation.

As well as the visual changes, there are a number of new animations added. Including, but not limited to, the ability to swim, new weapon attacks, new kill moves, even the ability to stealth assassinate two people at once, due to the second hidden blade. The parkour is also nicely tweaked, making scaling buildings a little less tedious, as you can now ‘sprint’ up the side. You can opt for the slower, more meticulous, long grab, or small and rapid ladder climbing movements. And, towards the middle of the game, you learn the ability to jump to higher ledges that were previously out of reach, by kicking off from handholds.



But it doesn’t end there. The sound quality is as good as ever, the voice acting utterly superb. And the music, that has undergone a major overhaul. Where the first had some decent, but kind of repetitive, background music. Assassin’s Creed II has all of that, as well as a full orchestral score. The games opening, with Ezio and his older brother standing atop a bell tower, the music gives me chills. In a good way. it’s absolutely fantastic.

The Verdict

I suppose, then, it should come as no surprise. I love this game. And whilst I know there are some out there who disagree, I fully recommend this game. I, honestly, prefer the first, but not by any significant margin. This is a more than worthy successor to one of the very best IPs we are ever likely to see.

Case Review

  • Even Deeper Story: This one goes all the way to the Pope himself.
  • Incredible Score: Truly some of the best game music ever recorded.
  • Great Visuals: Despite opting out of Dx10/11, the game still looks fantastic.
  • Spectacular Animations: There is just so damned much you can do.
  • Irritating Protagonist: Not unbearable, but the machismo becoms a little much.
  • Texture Pop-in: I’ve been told this was a major issue for many people, almost game breaking. But I honestly didn’t notice any whilst I was playing it.
Score: 5/5
It’s amazing. ‘Nuff said.


Assassins Creed 2 (AC2) was a step forward and a step back. From a gameplay perspective it improved on a lot of things, especially the missions. It was a big leap, from about 6 different types in the original game, to lots of various tasks in AC2. It fits the story perfectly which, this time around, has cutscenes. There are a lot of minor improvements to the main character, Ezio, compared to Altair. The most notable being the double blades, but also faster and more flexible parkour skills and other gadgets like a pistol, smoke bombs, etc.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, there’s a step back too. As well as the game plays, it doesn’t look as good and, in some open areas, it looks dreadful. The textures are pretty washed out, in areas like open fields you can see object pop in just 10 meters from you, and other minor visual glitches that can be only seen as a heritage of a lazy console porting. But if you can look past the visual shortcomings the audio is great, the music is spectacular and the gameplay compensates for the visuals.

Score: 4/5
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