Monday, January 11, 2010

Xbox 360 - Assassin's Creed II

Assassin's Creed II by Ubisoft

Assassin's Creed (series) is interesting and unique as a story. It is definitely adult oriented, so parents may want to review the content prior to allowing children access. With that said, let's get going...

Assassin's Creed II is a reasonably well done game. The flaws and repetitive nature have been mostly removed from this sequel. The game plays pretty much like the first game, but with some improvements. I was hoping for more, but Ubisoft didn't improve the game substantially over Assassin's Creed.


The game starts in the present with Lucy and Desmond. Desmond had been kidnapped by Abstergo to probe his mind using a device called the Animus. During probing his mind, the Animus brings to life past historical events. So, Desmond lives as Altair in a distant past and inherits some of Altair's powers.

In this second installment, Desmond and Lucy escape from Abstergo and set up shop as rebel present-day assassins using an different kind of hacked-together Animus devised by a hacker. In this game, Desmond goes back to the time of Leonardo Da Vinci in various cities in Italy (during the Renaissance). The game's new character is Ezio. Ezio has all of the abilities of Altair (climbing, assassinating, weapons and even now armor). There is a fighting arena that lets Ezio learn new skills. In addition to what Altair could do, now there's the ability to build out a town and spend money on things in the town (to improve it). As Ezio improves his town, his 'salary' goes up. The salary is placed into a chest about every 20 minutes of play. The more you improve the town, the more money you make every 20 minutes. So, spend the money on improvements if you need cash.

New Things

Now you can buy paintings and obtain weapons and armor. The paintings improve the value of the palace that Ezio owns. The weapons and armor also improve the value, but at the same time give Ezio more armor and strength. The reality is, these new features are more apt to provide income potential. The new armors only improve the amount of health points you hold. The armor really doesn't do much for protecting you better (i.e., take less damage)

There are now 'leap of faith' points all over town that are easier to spot. Whenever you see pigeons sitting on a roof, that's a 'leap of faith' point. In Assassin's Creed, they weren't as easy to distinguish.

There are other additions like locating symbols throughout the level that compiles a database of the artifacts of Eden. These are side quests and really don't factor into the main story.

Things Removed

Inevitably, some things have been removed. For example, the eavesdropping puzzles in Assassin's Creed are now gone in Assassin's Creed II.

Gameplay / Controls

Overall, the gameplay is similar to Assassin's Creed. So, if you're familiar with climbing and assassination, then you'll already be familiar. The main problem I found with the controls is that they don't always work as well as you would like. I found this same issue in the first game. Worse, as the game progresses and adds more upgrades, it becomes increasingly harder to control Ezio properly. So, he'll jump off of high buildings all the way to the ground when I didn't control him that direction. This control behavior of Ezio is very frustrating.


I didn't find this game quite as repetitive as the first game. The repetition is there, but the stories feel much more like Grand Theft Auto IV (the way they begin) than Assassin's Creed did. There are plenty of side quests and some of them are repetitive. There are also side quest areas that reset. So, even though you may have cleared a codex page, the guards will reappear around the doorway even though there's nothing there to get a second time.


I enjoyed playing this game and it's better than Assassin's Creed. But, it still hasn't fully resolved the issues of being overly repetitive in places. The main problem, though, is the controls. I found, as I did with the first game, that the control of Ezio gets increasingly harder and harder as the game continues. Some of that may be because they are overloading the controller with new skills that are easily triggered, but some of it just seems to be the game.

  • Sound: 8/10
  • Graphics: 8/10 (needs more realistic shaders)
  • Gameplay: 8/10 (good, but not substantially better)
  • Story: 9.5/10
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 7/10 (controls get increasingly harder)
  • Bang-to-buck: 3/10
  • Play Value: $15 (rent or buy)
  • Overall: 8/10

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