Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hey, Wait, I Forgot To Review Assassin's Creed 2

I beat Assassin's Creed 2 back in January, and my lazy ass is just getting into gear to jot down a quick review. I mentioned the game briefly last fall, but feel a strong need to write a bit more about it.

Assassin's Creed 2 builds heftily on the solid foundation of the first game in the series, with improved mission variety, puzzles, and combat. Graphically gorgeous and featuring smooth controls, it's a testament to the successful business model in modern game design where a thousand people come together and spend countless milions of dollars to make a state-of-the-art, polished, and playable game product.

Combat reminds me a little bit of Demon's Souls, in that one must follow the onscreen movements of one's foes and counter them with the right move. AC2 is a lot easier, though, with a variety of options to counter, disarm, dodge, and even distract - with such items as smoke bombs and sneaky moves like throwing sand in an enemy's eyes. Where in the first game I could pretty much get by with just countering, this sequel makes the action more engaging.

The platforming action is still great, with the same rooftop running and great climbing action that at times reminds me of the arcade classic Crazy Climber. The cities and countryside of Renaissance Italy are breathtaking to behold and fun to explore. And the puzzles - oh the puzzles of Assassin's Creed 2 - how they harken back to the kind of brain workout that puzzles in all those Commodore 64 RPGs had back in the day. Absolute joy.

What's new from the first game is the addition of money that can be earned by completing missions and looting corpses. This cash is spent on upgrades, weapons, and a strange side-mission town simulation, where Ezio's contributions help rebuild a run-down town.

The first game was structurally monotonous, in that the missions played out in the exact same structure in the four cities. In AC2, more variety in the structure is achieved by having cinematic story elements occur, but there is still some repetitiveness. Assasssin missions, follow missions, and others do repeat to some extent, but as with the first game it's not a problem because it's so much fun.

Big improvement is made in the future-story part of Assassin's Creed, as a bigger overall story takes center stage and leaves the player very eager for the next installment, and left me at peace with how the first game ended. Downloadable chapters "The Battle of Forli" and The Bonfire of the Vanities" roundout the Assasin's Creed 2 package. Forli is an all-out battle for one of the cities, and Vanities is a series of advanced-level assassination missions. Good luck with the boat one.

Word has recently arrived that this fall Ezio will be back for more in a multiplayer spin-off called Assassin's Creed : Bloodlines, but hopefully Assassin's Creed 3 is in the works, because that's where I really want to go next.