Graphics:
8.9
Gameplay:
9.6
Sound:
9.5
Control:
9.0
Replay Value:
9.2
Overall Rating:
9.4
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
Ubisoft
Developer:
Ubisoft Montreal
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
Action/Adventure


The original Assassin’s Creed was one of my favorite games of 2007 and I’ve been looking forward to the sequel ever since. I was well aware of the repetitive nature of the first title but as I found each and every action entertaining, I never grew tired of the involving and absorbing experience. Besides, the game did so many things so well that it was difficult not to be impressed. However, that being said, it seems clear that Ubisoft has worked to give us a sequel that is better and more detailed in just about every possible way. Essentially, if you consider the first Creed to be the foundation – and a very solid, albeit incomplete one – you can view the second effort to be a fuller, more satisfying, more realized piece of virtual entertainment. From conceptual art that just misses its aim to a very similar piece of art that has more in the way of polish; perhaps this is how I view ACII. From the story to the gameplay enhancements and alterations, this title just screams “upgrade.”

The graphics aren’t as much of an upgrade as one might believe, but that’s more of a testament to the original’s beautiful display. On the downside, the in-game cut-scenes aren’t quite up to the standards we’ve seen in some of the newest, most impressive cinematic adventures of late. The movies (that you often see acting as promotional trailers) are amazing, though, and the entire focus of this project is to immerse the player in a living, breathing world. The original did a wonderful job and the sequel does it even better. There’s even more detail in the surrounding environment; more NPCs and seemingly more animations as well; overall, it’s a more realistic and authentic medieval presentation. Just moving through the roving crowds or viewing the landscape from one of your many high vantage points is a pleasure, and you won’t find much in the way of glitches. I’ve heard about a so-called screen-tearing problem with the PS3 version but it’s an extraordinarily minor issue.

The sound represents one of the biggest upgrades, due to the superior voice acting, better balance in the surrounding effects, and a slightly more effective soundtrack. I have no idea how long it took to assemble a voiceover team almost entirely comprised of Italian actors (either that, or they’re all just really good at thick Italian accents), but it works. It works really, really well. In the original, there was a balance issue that would pop up during moments of intense action but I can find no example of that in this new title. And while I continue to think the soundtrack should assume a more prominent role in these games, it remains fitting and superbly composed. Lastly, it’s the little things that Ubisoft continues to do well: the passing chatter of the citizens in the streets, the cries of guards, the sharp clash of steel on steel, the clear yet appropriately understated grunts of effort; it all gels to provide us with a truly believable environment. The sound has a lot to do with atmosphere.

If you enjoyed the original, there’s absolutely no chance you won’t enjoy the sequel. At the same time, if you liked the concept of the first game but found it a little boring (due to the aforementioned repetitive nature), you’ll probably enjoy ACII. I say “probably” because the game is set up very much the same way; there are dozens upon dozens of optional quests scattered around the map almost all the time, and while there are definitely more than in the original, you’ll still be doing them over and over. But before you freak out, bear in mind that I just said there are more missions, and on top of which, they all feel quite distinct and test very different elements of Ezio’s skill set. Besides, the addition of multiple gameplay aspects really elevates this sequel to an extremely lofty position in my eyes. One could argue that such aspects should’ve been included in the original but they’re here now, so I don’t want to hear any whining about the past. Like I said… upgrade .

But let’s start with the basics: the game controls almost exactly like the first one, with only a few small changes. The focus still revolves around the concept of “free running” and treating the main character like a puppet (the instruction manual refers to it as “Puppeteering”). The latter simply means that each face button corresponds to a part of Ezio’s body; the triangle button controls his head – which he can duck to better hide his identity – the circle button handles his “other” hand (the one that isn’t holding a weapon), the square button moves the dominant, weapon-holding hand, and the X button controls his feet. Yeah, this may sound complicated but like the rest of the game, it all comes together to give the player immense control over every part of Ezio’s movement. The “free running” concept means you need to pay attention to your surroundings: by holding down the R1 button, you can sprint, and when you combine that with the X button, free running will let you leap and toss yourself about like the agile assassin you are.

However, due to the fact that you have to keep a close eye on health this time around, you’ll want to stay off the X button unless you’re certain of your direction. See, when just sprinting, Ezio won’t attempt to jump when he comes to a ledge; he’ll stop short, which is a good safety feature. If you’re holding the X button, he will fling himself off any ledge – any ledge – and of course, Ezio is no superhero. If he falls too far, he will suffer damage and if he falls way too far, he’s done for. But this leads me to the upgrades section: the first part of this is the health; you will be able to purchase equipment this time around that increases your overall health and if you get damaged, you have to visit a doctor to restore that lost health. You can also carry some medicines around if you simply don’t have the time or motivation to find a doctor, and yes, that’s another upgrade. Ezio has a pouch that he can carry items in, and he can even visit tailors to change the look of his robes.

Ah, but it doesn’t end there. You’ve got blacksmiths who will repair current weapons and sell you new ones and the brilliant Leonardo da Vinci, who will make you some very cool items if you can find original blueprints hidden around the world. Oh, and there are also special groups you can hire: there are the courtesans (prostitutes) who, when hired, will surround you and keep you from being spotted by the guards. They’re especially useful when you have to get through a guarded door; when you spot the guards, you can highlight them and send the courtesans over to distract them. While the ladies work their charms on the guards, in you go. Then there are Thieves and Mercenaries who you can also hire for a certain fee. Money is a new addition as well and you’ll definitely need it for all the things I’ve mentioned here. All this stuff, going back to the health description is entirely new for the sequel. Please understand that.

It just opens everything up. Sure, you’ll be clambering to the top of Viewpoints, getting letters from one place to another in a certain span of time, and handling some dirty work just like in the original, but there’s just so much more to do and so much more to consider. The combat has been revamped as well; no longer are we just countering all day long (although it’s still a definite requirement for success). No, Ezio’s ability to grab a foe adds even more possibilities, ‘cuz you can grab someone and instantly slit his throat with your short sword. Or, you can sneak up behind them and shove them off a high precipice. If you’d rather they be dead in front of you, you’ve still got your trusty hidden blade and once an enemy falls, you now have the option to sift through his pockets for money and pick up and move the body. How easily you move about is once again based on your visibility; i.e., your Notoriety. You can use haystacks, wells, and rooftop gardens to escape from pursuing guards, but only if your Notoriety level is yellow. If it’s red, they’re on to you and they’ll just drag you out of your hiding spot.

The enemy AI remains high and in some respects, it’s even higher. New enemies are very smart and will even be able to root you out regardless of Notoriety level, and I’ve also noticed more in the way of different melee attacks. You can pick someone’s pocket if you’re quick to disappear into the shadows, you can choose to tackle other aspects of the map before the plot-advancing missions (all conveniently marked with a “!” symbol), purchase maps that show you the location of all the treasure boxes (oh yes, another new addition), and continue to add new pieces of information to the Animus by pressing Select when prompted (this happens when you come across new characters or locations of some significance). The multiple weapons – everything from smoke bombs to assassin blades – add even more flavor to an already vastly improved sensation of depth and options, and with such an expansive environment, you’ll never grow tired of your gorgeous surroundings. And did I mention Ezio can swim? Yep, that too.

Lastly, we should probably mention the new “Uplay” rewards program that allows you to earn special “U” points for completing certain challenges. Those points can then be redeemed for in-game items like more throwing knives, maps, and costumes, plus other extras like wallpapers and themes. Obviously, this is reserved for Ubisoft titles; the next one that will feature this program will likely be Splinter Cell: Conviction , which unfortunately isn’t coming to the PS3. Anyway, getting back to the game at hand, you should’ve come to understand by now that this sequel has grown and expanded a long way past the original. But perhaps best of all, at least from my point of view, is that they didn’t alter the core gameplay much at all. This means you still have the stellar control, style and format setup, but there are multiple layers of upgrades and advancements superimposed over that excellent foundation. This is what we should expect from a sequel, isn’t it?

By now, you can probably tell I love Assassin’s Creed II . But as usual, nothing is perfect. There is still something in the way of repetition despite all the new missions, it remains a little too difficult to determine height (even after playing for a long time, I can screw up my “gap estimation”), there are a few collision detection issues, I don’t think the in-game cut-scenes are anything to get excited about, and blending with the crowd is a little too erratic. But I think it’s great how guards have to get closer to you to recognize you (as they get closer, a triangular meter over their head fills with yellow; if it goes red, they’ve got you) and everything else is awesome. The storyline is excellent, the voice acting and effects are excellent, the size, scope and detail of the environment is both a pleasure to behold and downright thrilling, interacting with everyone around you is an impressive experience, and the plethora of gameplay additions are much appreciated. And remember, you do typically have the option of going stealth or exercising your aggressive right, which is a definite keystone of this particularly ambitious structure.

Obviously, ACII and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 are entirely different experiences but in terms of single-player, I will say there are very few titles available that can rival Ubisoft’s gem. If this sounds like everything you wanted out of a sequel, you owe it to yourself to start playing…like, really soon.

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kevinater321
kevinater321
12 years ago

Good Game, Great review. Too bad i'm broke and saving up for the holidays. So i won't be picking this game up but i hear only good things about it.

Banky A
Banky A
12 years ago

Epic review.

therabbitkinge
therabbitkinge
12 years ago

Pre-order reciept MISSING!!! I have one more day to recover it!!! Wish me luck ya'll!

BTW great review as usual you guys are right on the money and im set to buy this game hands down best game of the genre this quarter ^_^

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
12 years ago

Er…who still uses receipts? Shouldn't your info be in the retailer's database?

Bagmup
Bagmup
12 years ago

Umm..yeah, just have to show ID at my EB

Buckeyestar
Buckeyestar
12 years ago

Yeah, I lost my receipt for GoW Collection but was still able to pick up my pre-order. Heck, they didn't even ask for my ID since they know me well enough.

Zorigo
Zorigo
12 years ago

game use reciepts.
ill wait til eid, then get it myself.

Gordo
Gordo
12 years ago

Good review. Look forward to playing this tonight. Very atmospheric…
Played the first one for a few hours but got bored and traded it in. This review has whetted the appetite! Just hope the repetition like GTAIV doesn't get to me before the end!

Just need to finish off the Modern Warfare 2 single player campaign first.

Been an excellent month. So many great games but so little time!
First Uncharted 2, then Modern Warfare 2 and now Assassins Creed 2.
Lets here it for the sequels…
That's it for me until Heavy Rain and GT5.

TheUglyBassist
TheUglyBassist
12 years ago

I can't wait to get this. 🙂

Qubex
Qubex
12 years ago

This is a great review Ben. Will read it a few times no doubt. Pleasantly surprised at the high score too; it does show how things can be improved with additional iterations of the same I.P. Whilst I never played the first one, I yet have to appreciate the "repetitive nature" of the game mechanic; however as it is all new to me; probably would not find it as bad as some have felt it was originally.

To me though, it illustrates one thing… mind you it has become ever so glaring to me since I purchased my PS3; and that is… that the first game to come out that is based on a new I.P. seems to always "fall short" of its full potential. Depending who you speak to, this notion could be a little subjective; however, to me it seems that it may actually be better to wait for the second installment of a game I.P. than purchasing the 1st game. It would appear you get more "bang for your buck" if you wait for the second game; the engine is improved, game mechanics and glitches (to some extent) are solved.

For example, I would have preferred to own the second "MotorStorm" rather than the first game; similarly for the last "GTA" – which I never purchased; feeling that the next installment will have a whole host of improvements to enjoy, and may well deserve a purchase.

I don't know how you guys feel about it; but does it not seem odd that by buying the first game you are actually funding the quality improvements of a second game which should have been present in the first place… maybe second installments are really the way to go to build a truly superlative PS# game collection. Then again, look at how the latest HALO has disappointed the "XFlop 360" crowd… not exactly a stellar 3rd installment is it… what real improvements there, if any!

Q!

"i am home"


Last edited by Qubex on 11/18/2009 10:12:06 PM

oldmike
oldmike
12 years ago

not always true R2 was not as good as fall of man
and GTA4 was a BIG let down to me
infamous and dead space were really good new IPs

Qubex
Qubex
12 years ago

oldmike, yes, i understand where you are coming from BUT, consider this. "Infamous 2" and "Dead Space 2" are going to be even better the second time around, so will games like "Grid 2" for example. "GTA-V" should be much better than "IV" too. "Killzone 3" should impress even more on its second iteration too.

So whilst some first time I.P's (relatively few) are good as first releases, they are even better second time around.

Can you imagine "Uncharted 3" 🙂

Q!

"i am home"

Alienange
Alienange
12 years ago

You're absolutely right Qubex. You just keep waiting for those sequels while the rest of us play games.

Qubex
Qubex
12 years ago

I will Alienange, I will, and my collection, whilst small, will be of best quality I assure you; and I would not have wasted thousands of dollars doing so!

Q!

"i am home"


Last edited by Qubex on 11/19/2009 8:10:33 PM

Karosso
Karosso
12 years ago

AC1 was the first game I ever bought for my PS3 but I never really played for some reason… I guess I might as well step up my gaming time for the winter.
Will get this next year for sure.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

some of them are rather funny though, like people merging with other people in the talking cutscenes

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

*Looks up*

huh? Same thing but a little better?

*Goes back to Dragon Age*

NeoHumpty
NeoHumpty
12 years ago

Are you finding all the glitches in DAO as laughable as I am? Maybe it's my copy for some reason, but it seems it needed an insane amount of polish. The human noble wakes up literally inside his bed about two feet. Plus pop-ups like a m'er-f'er. People's weapons sticking up through their head while they are talking. lol. It's distracting. And the jerkiness is headache inducing. What's it running at? 3 fps?

Qubex
Qubex
12 years ago

NeoHumpty; I HAVE A GREAT IDEA 🙂 !!!

Sell Dragon Age 1 fast, and wait for DRAGON AGE 2! Remember first iterations are never that good; you are paying for the second one by buying the first one 🙂

Q!

"i am home"


Last edited by Qubex on 11/19/2009 1:19:12 AM

NeoHumpty
NeoHumpty
12 years ago

lol. Why am I getting thumbed down?? I'm not insulting anybody or being unreasonable, just speaking the truth. I'm not even putting the game down. I'm still playing it, but WOW it needed some polish. It can't just be my copy. Oh, well.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

honestly the glitches don't bother me, there was a massive amount in Fallout 3 too and that didn't bug me because the rest of the game was so awesome. Having been there through all the generations of consoles I learned early on not to be too picky about these things because they used to be so commonplace it was absolutely normal. If the game is good enough I always forgive a few problems. I didn't thumb you down, you were just making observations.

Yeah it needed some polish but such is often the way with multiplats…


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 11/19/2009 12:03:43 PM

NeoHumpty
NeoHumpty
12 years ago

Maybe it's because I'm off topic. I'm about 20 hours in now. Seems like the opening "Origin" part was worse than it is now. Maybe I'm just getting spoiled.

Sir Shak
Sir Shak
12 years ago

8.9 for graphics , that's lower than the first , why so ? And Ben , how does Venice look , is the art as awesome as the first game ?

oldmike
oldmike
12 years ago

my thinking is the longer the system is out
the harder it is to get higher scores
i bet uncharted 2 moved that bar a bit

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

Yeah, graphics have excelled since the first one was out so this should have too.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
12 years ago

The 8.9 is due to the ever-changing competition. This would get a 9.2 or 9.3 back in 2007.

And yes, the various cities in Italy are beautiful.

Qubex
Qubex
12 years ago

Agree Ben; I think "Uncharted 2" still looks better than what I have seen of "Assassins Creed II".

Q!

"i am home"

Oxvial
Oxvial
12 years ago

that's a good score gonna buy it when it get a price drop I still need to finish DS and DAO.

btw I'm downloading the new firmware..and I'm ready to be disappointed .

Oxvial
Oxvial
12 years ago

download finished.

Sony I'm disappointed with you.

Qubex
Qubex
12 years ago

Why?

Q!

"i am home"

bearbobby
bearbobby
12 years ago

He's disappointed because he was expecting to be disappointed.

rogers71
rogers71
12 years ago

I still think this "Uplay" feature was taken from Uncharted 2. It has basically the same thing. Complete tasks in game for money that you can use in the store to unlock skins, cheats, movies, artwork and weapons. Does anyone else agree?

oldmike
oldmike
12 years ago

that was in the 1st uncharted and in Mass Effect
its not new at all other then being for ALL games

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

yeah it's just a repackaging of the typical unlockables.

LegendaryWolfeh
LegendaryWolfeh
12 years ago

Except it IS different. You don't have to just use your points for this game. You could play AC2, get all the points and then use your UPlay points on a different game that uses the same UPlay system, and not all of it is in-game content. There are themes for your xmb/dashboard/background and possibly other things (all there is atm for non-ingame, haha) so it IS a bit different than just 'buying' extra in-game stuff.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

only across supporting ubisoft games though

LegendaryWolfeh
LegendaryWolfeh
12 years ago

True, but I mean it's the same thing as any other 'rewards' program? You get points/rewards for buying/using that brands stuff.

___________
___________
12 years ago

cant wait to give it a try once im finished work.
i hope they kept those secret inscriptions from assassins creed and make references back to them.
that was the best part about assassins creed it had such a in depth storyline, no game had such a deep interesting storyline.
i remember reading a article on cvg where one of the devs and came back and explained every little detail, it was like 6 pages long thats how detailed it is.
hope they do the same for assassins creed 2, than assassins creed 3 since its suppose to be a trilogy.

th0mas21
th0mas21
12 years ago

Thanks for the review! i didnt have any doubts this would be a great game. I did play through the first, and even though i sold it from lack of playing, i always knew the second one would becone a must have on my list.

I hate to admit this, even though the games shouldnt be discussed in the same comments… i cant put down MW2, its not actually just that, its more the money, i cant afford to buy 2 games that soon (and 2 more early next year) so i am going to have to wait for a price drop or a for a used copy.

I think many people have interest in this game, but the timing with the MW2 release, its tough to compete with, no matter what category it fits in.
Looking forward to this one!

oldmike
oldmike
12 years ago

i think this one will be the bigger seller as far as gifts
this is the only game on my list as the rest are pushed back
OMG i just counted there are 10 Q1 games that i want comeing out next year

IonHawk
IonHawk
12 years ago

FYI – the Gamestop thanksgiving sale (buy 2 get 1 free) starts early this year (from Wednesday) on. Sure it's used games but at 33$ an almost-brand new game(if you have your edge card) this is the only time of the year when I can justify shopping there. Also it finally gives me a way to spend my 250$ in store credit 🙂

MadKatBebop
MadKatBebop
12 years ago

After playing the first one for a while, I can't trust what people say about AC2(I'm sorry I just can't)but I will probably rent it and I don't have enough money to buy a new game(U2 was my last game of the year)

Qubex
Qubex
12 years ago

Probably a wise move really; expect the best version to be "Assassins Creed III"

Q!

"i am home"

NiteKrawler
NiteKrawler
12 years ago

Nope the best will be Assassin's Creed Infinity. Using your logic as you keep tossing around here in this comment section, the best iteration is the one just after the last iteration. Theoretically, that is a never ending sequence. Using your own logic, we would never buy games. When 2 came out, we would wait for 3. But then we'd have to wait for 4, and so on. How about we get the games we want, which will support the devs, and then get their sequels which are probably better. (Not always) I mean, if we wait for the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th iterations, we haven't bought the 1st obviously. If no one bought the 1st, a 2nd would never be made. This new philosophy you seem to have picked up is full of holes.

Qubex
Qubex
12 years ago

NiteKrawler; no need for your post to have an offish tone against me; I was actually kidding… obviously one would expect "SOME" improvement after a first title is released. You would expect, logically, that the development team would learn form their prior mistakes, heard from the community and done a better job the second time round if they survived the first round… i.e. haven't been shut down… HAZE anyone?

So really, what I am saying is that with a little patience, if a new I.P comes out, you have spent time reading comments and reviews, and you feel there is enough going for the game that a second one is likely, wait for the second one… you will be getting/buying a better game overall…

Not difficult to understand right!

Q!

"i am home"

NiteKrawler
NiteKrawler
12 years ago

I just think that it is our responsibility to reward devs that do a good job, not punish them for maybe being able to do a better job next time. That's how capitalism works.

Qubex
Qubex
12 years ago

You are right to some extent NiteKrawler; I just don't have the money to waste.

What I mean is; if one is a serious collector of anything what do you want, the best or something that is close to the best. If the majority of gamers want to fund version 2 or version 3 of the I.P. that is fine by me; I just want the game in that series that is the best of its class… because I always feels that due to the suites above, the commercial pressures abound, a lot of these developers actually release the version they don't want to release…

My view is 90% of developers know they need more time, they know their game is not really as ready as it could be, but they are forced by the suites above them to release something that is not stellar… This is more of a stand saying that, if a developer is really worth their salt, if a developer really knows what they are doing and are releasing quality over quantity this will be recognised and rewarded… "Uncharted 2", "GT5", "GoWIII" etc etc… the deserve the support, not the subpar developers… I would rather let gamers help flush out sub-par developers with their wallets than let them continually release crap, and then watch them go to the wall…

Do I have to wait for GT6… noooooo, because I know what I am going to get… Will I have to wait for Killzone 4, nooooo because I know what I am going to get… quality and value for money…

This is what happens to Hollywood constantly, no?

Q!

"i am home"


Last edited by Qubex on 11/19/2009 10:14:47 PM

NiteKrawler
NiteKrawler
12 years ago

I see what you are saying. I don't have money to waste either. I only get games that I know are going to be excellent. I bought Demon's Souls after a bunch of research into. (I just knew it was my type of game, and I was right.) And I just bought ACII because I loved the first one, although I did realize that it had a bit too much repetition. The problem with not buying the first in a series when it comes out is that I don't really want to wait to play a great game, assuming that is indeed great. Like Uncharted. It was great for the first game. So really, instead of waiting for the better sequel, I just research the hell out of my games so I know what I am getting. I'm proud to say that I have never bought a game and regretted it later. Like Ben constantly says, gamers are a unique consumer because we are really good at researching before we buy.

556pineapple
556pineapple
12 years ago

Can't afford this at the moment, but I was finally able to afford Uncharted 2 and a new 500GB hard drive. Good review, can't wait to play it!

sobleck
sobleck
12 years ago

was too disappointed in AC to really consider AC2, woould play it at a friends place maybe, but it seems my heart and subconcious black listed it. Oh the pain of watching the end of the first one…The PAIN!

well thats my opinion anyway, i'm sure you guys will enjoy it though. A lot of people enjoyed the first, I actually liked many gameplay elements of the first, but the story was a little weak for me and made me feel like I had wasted my time (the story is the driving factor when it comes to games for me, its why I don't like Gears of War 1 and 2, great gameplay but because the stories were empty i turned away and never looked back, couldn't help it). It does look like the story is better this time aorund, but if it doesn't fit into the first or explain its ending, i'm not interested at all.