Assassin’s Creed 2 Review: “It’s-A-Me, Mario!”

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Every year a handful of titles end up being in the “must-have” or “highly anticipated” category. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed 2 happens to fall under the latter umbrella for 2009. Is it a “must-have” for this year? It depends on who you ask to be quite honest. What Ubisoft did with the original Assassin’s Creed was nothing short of amazing. The storyline was actually really, really good, but it was far from perfect. A little rough around the edges but it had potential and left everyone wanting more. Enter Assassin’s Creed 2.

The opening sequence is excruciatingly painful to sit through. Desmond wakes up a bloody mess and has no idea what’s going on. With the aid of Lucy Stillman aka Kristen Bell, he escapes from Abstergo and finds himself in the company of the Assassins. You’re then subjected to a series of uninteresting dialogue sequences with your team when all you really want to do is strap into Animus 2.0. Roughly 20 minutes later you’ve been transported back to Renaissance Florence as Ezio Auditore, a descendant who lived a privileged life without a care in the world. That is until his entire world comes crumbling down around him after his father and brothers are murdered.

The story of Ezio is inherently connected to that of Altair and certain elements connect the two together throughout the game. Nothing is ever truly answered though. A linear story is set in stone, but different elements are added as Ezio jumps from rooftop to rooftop through the vast open world. A plethora of side missions and mini-games are scattered throughout and while they have no real impact on the main storyline they’re interweaved in such a manner that you can’t help but divert paths to see what happens. It’s this sort of thing that elevates the replay value of AC2.

With Italy as a backdrop, the game is visually stunning and definitely blows away the art in the first Assassin’s Creed title. Based on the Inspired by Design video that TECHLAND posted on Monday it’s pretty clear how much detail the team went into to accurately recreate Renaissance Italy. You really have to stop and look around to appreciate it.

Changes have been made to the core mechanics so controlling and manipulating Ezio is much easier than before. Everything seems to flow much smoother this go around. The combat system in AC was somewhat lackluster and it’s obvious that improvements have been for AC2 but it wasn’t a vast improvement. It’s unclear how far along our review build is but the AI (enemies and allies) would stand around at times and not do anything. That’s not to say that this game isn’t fun to play because it’s extremely entertaining.

So is Assassin’s Creed 2 worth the hype? Absolutely. It’s a vast improvement on the original in a much larger world with a more compelling story.

Sidenote: You might be wondering what in the hell Mario has to do with Assassin’s Creed 2, but imagine an Italian uttering those infamous words. Said Italian happens to be Ezio’s uncle and it’s his first bit of dialogue. It might have been the most hilarious thing to ever happen in a video game.

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