Assassin's Creed II Review

Score: 97 / 100
Good: Breathtaking graphics, great overall gameplay, amazing climbing system, an involving and in depth storyline, hours of play time, a game within a game within a game
Bad: Combat can get monotonous, laggy graphics and menus at times
Reviewed On: PS3

Usually when a sequel is announced, a couple of thoughts go through my head. The first is whether or not it will be anything like the original and the second is wondering how bad they are going to screw up what they had. But, I am happy to report that this sequel does not fit into either one of those categories. In fact, Assassin's Creed II fixed a lot of what was wrong with Assassin's Creed and sits right up there with The Lord of the Rings, The original Star Wars movies, and other sequels that rocked my socks off.

The Backdrop...

The game basically starts where Creed left off. Desmond, while still being held by the 'scientist templars of the future', is being bust out by the sexy Lucy Stillman (Kristen Bell). You then actually play the birth of the new character for this sequel: Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Though kind of weird to start at and control a baby's first movements, it is a nice contextual touch. Long story (about how you are seeking revenge) short, Ezio is an assassin in Italy 300 years after where Assassin's Creed left off in the animus.

Essentially the Creed storyline remains intact. While you aren't solely chasing after crazed 'new-world order' templars this time around, you are doing a fair amount of work at ruining templar plans. There is more to the storyline than that, but you get the picture and I hate spoilers of any kind.

Let's Get Down to Gameplay...

Where most sequels disappoint, AC2 leaves you smiling. The gameplay for this sequel is pretty much on par with what AC offered. There is still a lot of running, jumping, climbing, and fighting, but AC2 takes it all to another level.

Features like the climbing system have been beefed up, and now feel way more involved and intuitive. The free climbing in AC was revolutionary, but AC2 has fine tuned it almost to perfection. Though it is a fantastic climbing system, it can also be a little sensitive at times when you have fallen during a climbing puzzle for the 15th time.

Other notable updates to gameplay are an inventory system, the ability to purchase armor and weapons, the ability to change the color of your outfit, an economics system, the ability to make any walking group of people a place to hide, the ability to pick up enemy weapons, and prostitutes that you can hire to sick on horny Italian guards. The list goes on, but again, I think you get the picture.

The storyline is also still amazing and does a great job of not relying on you to have played the first AC. With an in depth back story and 'fun Italian facts' system, getting involved in the storyline is easy to do. AC2 may be just a game, but it is on the front lines of creating playable movies.

The Visuals...

I don't even know where to begin on how beautiful the graphics are. The roof tiles, the buildings, the streets, the catacombs, and the armor/clothing all come together to make your jaw drop in awe of how breathtakingly gorgeous this game is. If you have ever wanted to know what Italy looked like in the 15th century during the renaissance, I would have to say that AC2 provides a pretty accurate representation. I wasn't there, but I took a couple humanities classes in college.

The Disappointments....

This game is an amazing sequel, but it does have a few down points. The first is the slight lag that is experienced during certain parts of the game. I found that opening the map or menus was quite sluggish and felt like I had beer-thumbs at times. Also, running on the rooftops and looking around the city as a whole can kill your frame rate.

The second downer was how monotonous the combat system could be. Even with the additions of upgraded weapons, an extra wrist blade, and gadgets (from Leonardo da Vinci), you still mash the attack button a little more than you should. I guess you could say it's more of an annoyance than a downer really.

Overall...

Assassin's Creed II is phenomenal. Not only does it provide solid upgraded game mechanics from AC, but it also delivers a huge and in depth game that offers hours of gameplay past what you would expect. If you are looking for a fantastic action-adventure game to add to your game library, look no further than AC2.

- Tyler Sanders (Chiko)

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