I really enjoyed the first Assassins Creed because not only did it have a free-running mechanic I’d not seen before, but also an intriguing sci-fi conspiracy element as Desmond entered the Animus and kept unravelling things in the past that linked to the present. Some people found the game too repetitive and the constant break in gameplay to the present rather annoying. Well Ubisoft have listened and made a much better game.
The sequel follows on directly from the last game and you do spend a good half hour or so as Desmond as you escape the lab and work with a rogue team to defeat the Templars. Once entering the Animus 2.0 you fill the boots of Ezio in 15th century Italy and the game begins properly.
To begin with, you don’t even wear your hooded outfit and this all seeks to not only give a real personality to Ezio, his friends and family, but also as a lengthy training mode. It’s a bit too long but at least missions are more varied this time around. Once your family has its tragedy you don’t just go around killing one guy after another. This time there are missions with all-out fights. You can recruit courtesans, mercs and thieves to help you fight and sneak past guards and there are tonnes of secrets to collect which link into some strange puzzles which really suck you into the whole story.
There are also moments to break up gameplay where you ride a horse-drawn carriage through the mountains and take flight in Da Vinci’s hang-glider.
Combat’s fun once you learn all the moves. Now you can disarm people and some of the animations are brutal. You also have a make-shift gun, throwing knives and smoke bombs to play with. Assassinating two people at once also looks really cool.
Climbing and free running can be a bit frustrating though, especially since games such as Uncharted 2, InFamous and even Mirror’s Edge to some degree have done it better. Still, the game’s generous checkpoints mean you never have to backtrack if you do fall to your death.
I couldn’t put the game down until I finished it but I was left not knowing really what the hell was going on with the mix of religion, sci-fi and conspiracy. Hopefully, the third and final part will eventually help me see the light.
Assassin’s Creed 2 gets an almost perfect 9 out of 10.