Assassin’s Creed 2 Xbox 360 Review


The first Assassin’s Creed (AC) still stands as one of, if not the, most polarizing games of the current generation. Some found the game’s shortcomings forgivable in light of the innovations that the parkour mechanics brought to open-world design. Others, such as myself, couldn’t forgive the incessant bugs, glitches, mindless flag collecting and repetitive combat and mission structure. Assassin’s Creed 2 (AC 2) aimed to fix all previous issues while carving out an identity of its own. So what’s the verdict? Assassins Creed 2 is an unadulterated triumph in all areas that first showed potential while adding new experiences to the series that make it more than what the first game should have been.

In Assassin’s Creed 2 you play through the life of Ezio, literally starting at his very birth for the tutorial. The game chronicles his journey from a naive rich boy to a master assassin at the heart of the global conspiracy from the first game. Ezio is a much more likable character than Altair (of AC) as he comes off as much more human. You’re not some shadowy, faceless guy killing people you are ordered to kill. You’re a boy who suffers from the loss of his father and brothers; forced to grow up quick for the sake of yourself, your family and the world. The conclusion, however, is a head scratcher that you will either love (like me) or will make you feel letdown.

One of Assassin’s Creed’s trouble areas was the combat. While AC  introduced a more elegant form of sword play, the counter-kill system nearly broke the combat as players could just hold the block button and spam counter-kills. AC 2’s combat has been greatly expanded. There are bevies of parry, dodges, dirty tactics (sand in the face FTW) and offensive options that help shake off the urge to wait to counter-kill. You can still spam counter-kills, but you’d be boring yourself with the amount of waiting it takes to do so. Also the elimination of regenerative heath adds a sense of urgency to play offensive rather than have a drawn out fight.

Apart from techniques, there are many new weapons including two-handed maces, long swords, spears and axes. These each come with their own move set, but some weapons, like the spear, are used so sparingly you won’t get the chance to master them. And while two-handed weapons are a nice addition, one-handed swords will still dominate your playtime. The reasoning being doing 40 damage with the two-handed weapon when you can do 25 three times as fast with the one-handed sword. The best improvement in AC 2 is by far the mission structure.

In  AC you would listen to a long unskippable lecture from the grandmaster, ride to a designated city, and listen to another lecture from your handler. You would then proceed to do the same pick-pocketing, interrogation and the sit-on-bench/eavesdropping missions. In AC 2 the missions move at a much more natural pace. The story’s critical missions are always marked for you allowing you to take on side missions, collect feathers, or just run around at your own leisure. The most noticeable inclusion is the addition of a currency system. Players now have the option to collect and spend money on a myriad of items. Though you can gain money by completing mission and finding treasures, the early acquired Villa Auditore will act as your main source of income. Through a series of renovations your income grows through taxes. You can also increase the villas worth, marginally, by buying paintings from art dealers in different cities or by collecting feathers. If you are persistent, you can end up with more money than you know what to do with only being two-thirds into the game.

The final addition to AC 2 is the Assassin tomb. These linear game-play segments (as Ubisoft call them) are crafted with one and only one way to conquer them which offers a refreshing break from the open world design. These tombs also show off the free running system of the first game. The parkour system of the AC 1 is back, but much faster. This provides a much smoother experience that will marginalize frustration during chases and other high action moments. The only time the parkour can get a little agitating is when you need to make precise jumps from awkward angles (such as corners), or the few times the game does not recognize a Leap of Faith and just drops Ezio to your death. Gladly, these issues are rare enough that it never hampers the overall experience.

AC 2 is a joy to look at. Renaissance Italy allows for much more colorful and vibrant environments than the drab and war-torn setting of the first game. Character models look great and facial animations emote well to complement the excellent voice acting. There’s no suspiciously 21st century sounding protagonist in this game. Its scenery stretches out beautifully and the panoramic view, when syncing to a viewpoint, highlights this.

The second entry in the Assassin’s Creed series has managed to right all wrongs of the past, add its own staples to the series, and deliver it all in an incredibly polished package. Whether you are a fan or detractor of the first Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed 2 is an experienced that should not be missed by anyone.

GGC Score: 9 out of 10

Click here to buy Assassin’s Creed 2 for Xbox 360 from Amazon.com

About Abel Girmay

Just living, loving, and learning. What else is there to do?

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