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A Major Improvement Over the Original!
on December 30, 2009
Assassin's Creed II was released among a bevy of blockbusters during the holiday season of 2009 and managed to carve it's place among them as a stellar action/ adventure game that surpasses the original in every way possible.
The story takes place during Renaissance Italy as you take control of Ezio Auditore Di Firenze, a young man who watches as his family is wrongfully accused of a crime they did not commit. Ezio dons the mantle of the Assassin and swears vengeance upon those who betrayed his family. He soon unravels a conspiracy that is plagued with deceit, betrayal, and entrenched in blood.
Assassin's Creed II is centered around free running. Virtually every structure can be scaled with ease by the agile protagonist. The controls take a short time to get used to and soon you will find yourself campusing up a giant tower and leaping between buildings alluding guards. It is a rewarding experience to navigate a daunting steeple that is seemingly hanging from the sky. Then to leap without fear from its apex and plummet towards earth in a free fall to simply land unscathed in a strategically placed wagon of hay.
Your character is also well equipped to fight with a variety of weapons. Stealth is the preferred method of assassination, however at certain times a more straightforward approach is called for and you may find yourself surrounded by numerous guards. The combat is almost as fluid as the free running with Ezio disarming and dodging his foes with style and grace. The lock on technique is cumbersome to use at times and the defensive and offensive maneuvers can be difficult to conduct.
Ubisoft Montreal performed admirably recreating Renaissance Italy with intricate detail and populating it with a plethora of characters. Venice and Florence feel more alive than Liberty City and the music and chatter that accompanies each new area adds to the overall atmosphere of the experience. While the historical accuracy can certainly be questioned it is apparent that Ubisoft sought to infuse the genuine flavour of Renaissance Italy into the game.
Unfortunately the vast virtual world does not run without a hitch. I have played the PS3 version extensively and have noticed screen tearing, pop up, and texture pop-in. While this isn't anything major it is important to note. The game runs almost identical to the 360 version unlike some previous (and future) multi-platform games (*cough* Bayonetta *cough*). With that in mind do not expect pristine Uncharted 2 type graphics.
The primary experience takes approximately 10-15 hours to complete. Navigating Ezio through his quest for vengeance is a sometimes confusing, albeit rewarding journey. Intertwined within the adventure are sub-quests that include; managing a villa, searching for mysterious glyphs, collecting feathers, deciphering codecs, and racing against thieves that can add considerable length to the overall playtime.
It was gaudy of Ubisoft to announce Assassin's Creed as a trilogy prior to the original hitting stores' shelves, but if Assassin's Creed II is any indication, the trilogy will end on an extremely high note.
Conclusion: Well worth the price of admission 9/10