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Assassin's Creed 2 Review

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I know it's a long time coming reviewing a game that came out in 2009, but I had bought it on a Steam sale last year, and just recently managed to install it and get around to beating it.


My reluctance to play Assassin's Creed 2 was directly due to its predecessor, Assassin's Creed. I had purchased the "Director's Cut" edition for the PC years ago when it was released, and the repetitive nature of the game left a bad taste in my mouth. So when I finally decided to play the game I'd purchased, I only did so because I was bored and waiting for Far Cry 3 to be released.


Assassin's Creed ended abruptly and was meant to be a cliff hanger. While there was a sort of resolution to part of the plot, the overall exploits of Desmond (the main character of the first game) were left with nothing but questions.... I remember Crysis did the same thing, not "finishing" the plot with the expectation of having future games that would continue where the last one left off... The fact that developers do this pisses me off for 2 reasons. Firstly, they are almost taking it for granted that their game will be successful enough that they will sell enough copies of the game and be rich enough to even make any sequels.... This arrogance just rubs me the wrong way because even if the game is amazing, just the arrogance of such a move is kind of douchy. If the game IS successful... then I, as a player, have to usually sit and wait around a year or two for the next game in the series to pick up where I left off. The second alternative is that the game completely bombs, and we players never GET a sequel, so the game just sort of dies. A third possible alternative is what happened with Crysis... The game ended with you staring at an island where something HUGE happened and you expect to go back to the island and save a friend.... Crysis 2 completely ELIMINATES your player, and you start off as someone completely new, and they don't really explain the gap between the two games... Sort of a spit in the face and makes you feel like the developers had no idea how to connect the two games, so they said screw it.


Thankfully, Assassin's Creed 2 picks up literally right where the last one left off. They did make some character texture changes, so it is a bit odd seeing the "recap" video at the beginning that sums up the events from the previous game and seeing the same characters but look slightly different...


Anyway, the game looks significantly better than its predecessor. The textures and overall look and feel is cleaner the scope of the level design is still massive as you can clearly see the entire city when climbing to the peaks where you can survey the land. For a console port, the game is very well optimized. I don't recall any major crashes or slowdowns. I could max out the graphics quality and did not see any slow down in frame rate.


The audio quality is quite good, and the voice acting is done very well. Your character's ancestor, Altair, in the first game had an American accent, which did not make any sense. This game takes place in Renaissance-era Italy, and they actually have realistic accents, and even slip into speaking Italian at points, but you figure out what they are saying through context.


The characters are very well fleshed out, and you feel close to them. The overall plot is interesting and it compels you as you play through it. Sadly, though, there are points that drag on.


Gameplay is a mixed bag... While most of the main plot missions vary to a degree where redundancy is minimal, you are basically doing the same things over and over again... The same can be said for the first Assassin's Creed... You are either running to beat a clock, trying to sneak in and assassinate someone, or you are solving jumping / platformer puzzles.


Gameplay pissed me off, as a PC user, when it came to the platform jumping puzzles... For some reason, when involved in a side-quest to steal treasure, or any level that made you jump around, at random, the game will change your camera perspective... One second, you will be using your mouse to turn by moving it left to right... Simple 3rd person controls, yes? Then, while you are trying to make it to the next jump, the camera will abruptly change to a fixed perspective, where your mouse no longer controls which direction your character is looking, but rather it just swivels the camera back and forth, inducing sea sickness.... Meanwhile, as you are trying to jump to the next platform thinking your mouse is controlling your direction, you jump off in the completely wrong direction and either fall to your death, or have to restart that part of the level by having to re-climb up to get back to where you were... The game took me 34 hours to complete, and I would wager that literally HALF of that time was due to me having to reload checkpoints due to dying or failing a jump.


This game is frustrating.... Towards the end I found myself trying to just plow through the main quest as fast as possible because I just wanted to find out what happens in the plot, because I could care less anymore about finding hidden treasure or running around collecting feathers and other crap... This leads me to my other gripe, this game has waaaay too many things that can distract you unnecessarily. You help your character's sister at the beginning of the game collect hawk feathers for her... and for the rest of the game, there are 100 hawk feathers just floating in space in hard to reach places. As you collect them, you get money... I know, right? Why wouldn't I just shoot down a hawk and pluck the damned thing? Also, there are towers scattered throughout the game that, if you climb to their peaks, will unlock the map, showing you a section at a time. There are 73 of these. I know this well because I did them all... Worst waste of time... After repeating yourself 73 times, what do you get???? NOTHING. All you've done is shown the full map, but you get no reward... No achievement. No acknowledgement. Nothing. At least in Fary Cry 3, which has a similar game mechanic, you unlock guns by doing this.


In the end, I became an art collector... As you play through the game, there are vendors that sell paintings... These you can buy and they appear in a Villa in the game so you can observe them and learn about what they are with a little description. They are mostly religious early Christian paintings, but there are a few, tasteful nudes to keep you occupied ;)


Overall, the game has a decent plot, but again, they left it as a cliffhanger, expecting you to buy the other games. I own the next one, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, which picks up directly where the last one left off, but honestly, I am so burned out from this damned repetition, I am probably just going to watch the cutscenes on YouTube.


Even on a cheap holiday bundle sale on Steam, I would only recommend this game if you have time to burn.


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