Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Played Lately: Assassin's Creed II

  • I might have been perfectly happy waiting for Assassin's Creed II to fall into the bargain bins, but my wife was not. One quick trip to Amazon was enough to secure a sale-priced copy and I was headed back into the Animus. The game takes place in fifteenth century Italy. This time, Desmond relives the life of Ezio Auditore, the son of a noble Florentine family. It doesn't take too long before Ezio must take up the assassin's path and take on the Templars.

  • Where AC1 was a freeform game, AC2 follows a more structured narrative. While the underlying mechanics are very similar, how the missions are focused makes the game play very different. There are still side missions to complete and they are much more varied. But at the same time, the impulse is to follow the story through to the end, skipping all the fluff. Since the first game required you to explore the cities, side missions naturally fit into that. They just weren't as interesting as in AC2.

  • I shouldn't skip so quickly over the story. AC2 is quite a step up over the prior game. Assassin's Creed gave just a peek into the overall story. In the sequel, Ubisoft blows the doors off their hinges. There is nothing that I can talk about here that isn't a serious spoiler (and spoilers are easy enough to find on the internet if you care). But if you thought the little bit of sci-fi we've seen so far was it, you haven't seen anything yet.

  • My favorite improvement for the game is that combat never feels unfair. I really doubt it's because I'm any better of a gamer now. I think they just got the balance right. So good on Ubisoft for that.

  • I'm really glad my wife wanted me to play Assassin's Creed 2. I had a lot of fun and it's a really good game and story. I just hope she can handle the wait until AC3 comes out.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. I really enjoyed AC2 as well. I was wary about getting it because the first game was so tedious and repetitive. But I heard great things about the sequel, how it's better in every way, and I'm glad I gave it a shot.

  2. I have read that AC 2 (which to my MMO infused brain reads "Asheron's Call II" before the intended reference) is a ton better than the first one. However, my backlog of offline games is months long. The last was Bioshock. I got about four hours in thought "Holy crap this is an amazing game!" and then went straight back to whatever MMO I was hooked on at the time.

    What it comes to is that the best offline game I've ever played can't hold a candle to "mediocre game + social rewards." One hits a single button while another hits two. It hardly matters how hard the buttons are hit, it's an exponential rather than additive effect.

  3. I skipped the first one after seeing all the talk about how repetitive it was, I play MMOs for that. ;)

    I did want to pickup AC2 (Yeebo, I always think Asheron's Call 2 as well), but I'm having a hard time feeling good about giving Ubisoft any money with what they're doing on the PC-side with the always connected DRM.

  4. I have said it before, and I will say it again, AC2 is awesome and is a great example of how to improve a sequal.

    @Blue Don't skip the first game, it's still really good and it will help you appreciate just how great the second one is. Seriously, pick them up on the Xbox, you won't be disappointed.

  5. Jay, thanks for the recommendations. I may eventually get them and I had always intended to get the console versions (mostly for the achievements) but I'm going to at least wait until AC2 is available from the bargain bin. Ubisoft has really gotten under my skin.

  6. @ MMOGamerChick - Absolutely. AC2 definitely makes up for the deficiency people found in the first game. I guess I'm just lucky that I enjoyed the AC1 as much as I did.

    @ Yeebo - Perfectly fair. I gave up on single player gaming for a long time for the very same reason. And now I'm barely playing any MMOs because I hated missing all those games.

    @ Blue Kae - If you really want to stick it to Ubisoft, buy a used copy like I did. :) AC1 was only $18, so it was well worth the cash.

    @ Jayedub - I'm glad you convinced me to try AC1. I really think that the game only gets tedious if you're a completionist. If you stick to the storyline missions, you get through just fine.

  7. I definitely strive to be a completionist, at least for achievements I know I can get, so maybe that's why I felt the first game was tedious.

    I also disliked the fact that after I botched the assassinations (which I did a lot), as I recall, the game would take me back to the last save point, which was AFTER I've already messed up, and I didn't get to try my hand at being stealthy again. The second game, however, took you back to the beginning of the actual mission so you could try again.

  8. I was the completionist with AC1 and I would not do it again. Looking for all those flags and finding those darn Templars was fun at first, but very time consuming.