ASSASSIN’S CREED II REVIEW
Ezio Auditore. Gosh it has a good ring to it. This is the best Assassin’s creed game in my opinion, with AC4 as a close second. Meet the Italian stud Ezio, a young man living in Renaissance Italy, who certainly knows how to kick ass.
The game is made by Ubisoft Montreal (Oh Canada!) and was released in 2009. It is an open world stealth and combat game with seriously the best plot ever. If you haven’t played any of these games, go to the mall right now and buy all of them…except maybe the first one. Good story, but not really necessary to play – I would just google a quick plot summary for that one. I heard they are making this series into a movie in 2016 – and oh boy am I excited for that.
This game incorporates Desmond Miles – bartender turned time-traveller in his attempt to save the world. He uses a machine called the “animus” to live through the eyes of his assassin ancestors and learn their abilities and their histories. In this game he lives as Ezio Auditore, who joins an order of assassins to seek revenge against the Pazzi and Borgia families. Ezio begins the game as a young man who becomes an Assassin and eventually aligns with the famous Medici family. The game begins in Florence, Italy – but you also get to visit the hill town of Montereggini, the fields of Tuscany, the fortress of Forli (where you meet Caterina Sforza – oh my) and even Venice (or “Venezia” in Italian).
Combat in this game is pretty spot on, it definitely improves in later games, but when I played this back in 2009 I thought it was pretty cutting edge. You can choose to “go out guns blazing”, which can sometimes work, but usually ends up with you fighting about a million guards. You can also take the stealth approach, my preferred method, in which you hide in bushes and behind buildings and take out enemies from behind with trajectory weapons or the iconic hidden blade. Your character is also a friggin monkey and can scale the Italian buildings like nobody’s business, allowing you to sneak up on guards on ledges and attack them that way. He can also jump and use ropes and cables to get from building to building, so traversing around the different cities can be so much fun.
Thing You’ll Like
Now if you have read any of my reviews I usually touch upon music, since it’s so crucial to my gaming experience. This game has a really strong soundtrack, and every city has fantastic music. It’s a somewhat choir-like, piano and woodwinds ethereal soundtrack, which sounds a bit dweeby, but it isn’t. The music helps to transport you to 15th century Italy, providing everything from slow ballads to upbeat battle themes.
Ezio. Point blank. He is my favourite assassin because he is so likeable, and completely charming (and so very Italian). You can feel his justification for revenge, and you root for him the whole way through. In comparison to the next AC game’s main character Connor – don’t even get me started. Ezio has more personality in his pinky finger then the next Assassin (but that’s another review entirely).
The scenery. I am an art buff, so having the game set in Italy was so ideal for me. I actually backpacked Europe a few years after I played this game, and when I went to Venice and Florence I was thinking “holy cow I am in the game”. The graphics are pretty good and they have really created a realistic world that depicts how Italy may have looked 500 years ago.
Things You Won’t Like
A downside about the assassin’s creed games is you often have missions where you have to trail someone without being noticed. Realistic yes. Fun? Uh no. You are so focused on not being noticed that you don’t pay much attention to the conversation you are supposed to be over-listening on, and it just gets frustrating. And the fact that you have to do it so many times in the game is much too repetitive.
Controls are decent in this game, the stealth mode in particular is quite good, but the fighting can feel a bit clunky at times. You can swing, parry, block, and hit your opponent, but it is basically just button mashing. I always go stealth if I can to avoid an all out brawl with an enemy, as that is an easy way to die. This gets better in later games, but for this game the actual one on one combat is just so-so.
Good stealth controls, great music, great storyline, but subpar sword combat and irritating missions at times. Ezio is such an interesting Assassin and I cannot get enough of being immersed in the age of the Renaissance. I just wish they would re-release this game for PS4 like Naughty Dog did for the Last of Us. If you like open-world adventure games, this game will be great for you, and if you are a history buff like me, then go buy this game right this second. Ubisoft you did it again.