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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Ubisoft
Developed By: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Rated: M (Mature)
Release Date: November 17, 2009
Screenshots: Link
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Written By: Marcus Prunty

July 31, 2010 - Iíve always wanted to take a tour of Italy to learn the history of the country and a few choice words while assassinating a few corrupt nobles that have upset me and taunted some guards while doing it. This and more is what you get in Ubisoftís Assassinís Creed II which is the sequel to their breakout hit with the same name. This sequel has moved away from just a simple action adventure and has become a massive open world environment game; almost giving off the feel of a Spider-Man game in that you can go anywhere and everywhere.

The game picks up where Assassins Creed left off with Desmond who has been kidnapped by a Corporation for his memories. Desmond has ancestors who were assassins and the Corporation wants the information he has. This Corporation is supposed to be the modern day version of the Templars who were at war with the Assassins back during Renaissance Italy. In this game Desmond breaks out from jail with the help of present day Assassins who also attempt to learn from him valuable information from the past through the use of similar methods that the Corporation used. Through the memories of his ancestor Ezio Auditore, Desmond learns the ways of the Assassin.

Before diving too far into the review, I want to point out that majority of the game is played as Ezio Auditore, while Desmond appears in parts of the game here and there. As you explore the world of Renaissance Italy as Ezio, you learn the skills of the assassin as you progress through his life. The game jumps years at a time to give you almost a highlight reel of major events in his life. From his birth, you jump till heís an adult pleasing the ladies and running errands for his father who is a wealthy banker. Then the game changes again as Ezio begins to witness a great conspiracy that takes the lives of his family members and you spend the rest of the game getting revenge on everyone that betrayed him and his family. The game begins in Florence; Ezioís hometown, and as you proceed you get a bit of the tutorial mixed in with the gameplay. This helps a new player get accustomed to the controls bit by bit without being overwhelmed that it [control setup] is too complicated.

Once you get the gist of the basic control scheme, the real action officially begins with you fighting through hordes of soldiers. As Ezio you will begin to assassinate some of the nobles that have betrayed his family. The running across the rooftops of all the cities you must visit to get to the bottom of who started the downfall of your family. The cities hustle and bustle with life, as you walk through the streets to destinations you will notice how realistic all the people act. If you bump into them they look at you and in some instances even want to fight you for knocking them down. The heralds giving speeches in the squares stop talking when you approach them. This game does a better job of the NPC recognizing you and interacting with you than was done in the first Assassinís Creed. Ubisoft also does an excellent job of varying the dress and looks of the characters so they donít all look the same in an effort to avoid things feeling repetitive as you advance in the game.

The people arenít the only visuals in the game that look amazing. The cities that you visit are amazingly done as well. When youíre sitting on top of a cross on top of one of the many churches and youíre scanning the land under you, it just looks spectacular the way the light hits you and the city as your peering down. Another thing I liked that was well done is swimming; most people would assume this is something simple to do in a game. But in Assassinís Creed II when Ezio jumps into the water he actually gets wet. And when he emerges from the water the coloring of his clothes is darker giving you the sense that there wet as well as they look droopy like their sagging under the weight of the water. This was a really nice effect that they accomplished that makes the world more real. I have to saw that the affect falls along the lines of the wet effect that Naughty Dog has perfected with the Uncharted series.

In order to get the complete picture and make the game a masterpiece, you need great sound design as well as solid visuals working solidly with one another. Weíve already talked about the visual present, but what about the audio. Thankfully, Ubisoft accomplished immersion through audio in several different ways. Usually when playing open world titles, the NPCs roaming the area are lifeless, self-contained individuals that you can barely interact with. In Assassinís Creed II, beyond almost full interactivity with the NPCs, the computer controlled characters also converse among themselves as if you were actually roaming through real life cities as you complete you missions. When youíre fighting, you hear the clangs of metal hitting armor and even metal ripping into flesh as you kill soldiers and other people. The music used during the game is very soft and doesnít overpower the scene which is a welcome relief from other games where you canít really hear the dialogue because of the music. The suave voice of Ezio, the powerful voice of his uncle Mario are just two examples of very nice voice acting that was done in the game.

You will spend a lot of time jumping from rooftop to rooftop in Assassins Creed II, so Ubisoft insured the controls were tight in order for various maneuvers to be performed the way the player intended. The downfall to all the rooftop running and jumping is the camera. The way the camera is positioned most of the time in the game you wonít be able to see over the next rooftop to know if thereís a building there, or a few hundred foot drop. I fell off more ledges than I can count but that didnít bother me as I would just quickly heal myself and keep on running. The camera does come in handy on Assassin Tomb levels where you need it to fully explore the level and figure out which way you need to jump to make it to your next jump. And when you do some of those levels; especially ones where you have to chase a guard down, the camera goes into action mode and moves as fast as you can run and jump if not faster. At that point, the cameraís involvement within the on-screen action makes the levels look more intense. So the falling off ledges every now and then isnít a major problem because for the most part the camera does a pretty good job.

The camera also takes full advantage and makes the true nature of the game; which is assassinating people, look glorious. I found myself stopping plenty of times during the game to assassinate guards and pick fights with them just to kill them in some spectacular way. The double hidden blades that you can wield make killing extra fun. I love especially walking in between guards who donít know who I am and assassinating them both with a blade through the throat. The many ways you can kill someone in this game is just awesome. From stealth spots in hay or wells, to hanging from rooftops; I found myself not using most of the other weapons in the game but my hidden blades. You can also even disarm all of your enemies, which is kind of funny just taking their weapons and killing them with their own sword or axe. If you donít happen to kill all that you attack and you get outnumbered pretty fast you can blend in with the crowds to make yourself invisible to guards and you can just sit on the benches. This blending effect works like a charm when thereís no hay or well to jump into. As you attack various guards and even people your notoriety goes up to where blending is a lot harder to do. There are various wanted posters you can rip down to reduce your wanted level as well as you can bribe heralds which will also drop your wanted level. Finding the posters can be as hard as finding some of the treasure chests so I always made it a point to bribe the heralds.

And if you want a little more hardware to use there are blacksmiths all over Italy where you can purchase a variety of weapons. The various blacksmiths shops also sell armor as well as repairs your armor so after intense battles you can get it repaired so youíre ready for the next fight. Along with blacksmith shops there are tons of doctors all over the place which are very important as they can sell you poison as well as healing potions to heal yourself after you fall off some roofs or fight some guards.

You might be wondering where you get the money for all these weapons and healing potions and armor. Well you can pickpocket mostly all of the civilians and even rob the guards and soldiers after you have taken them out. But you are also given a whole town that makes money for you. And as you upgrade the different shops and buildings in your town you earn more money which makes for plenty of money to buy armor, weapons and whatever you need. As well as you make florins from all the missions you do; this economy system is kind of cool. The only problem I had with it is as you go your chest can only hold a certain amount of money and then it stops collecting. So you have to go back to your villa and pick it up. I wish they had like drop boxes throughout town so you can pick up your money, however I guess in the scheme of the time that wouldnít make senseÖ just saying though, it would have been a lot easier than running back to your town.

With the help of a young inventor names Leonardo da Vinci you will get various weapons for your arsenal like poison blade, smoke bombs and even a flying machine. All of these are important to advancing through certain missions. And Assassins Creed II does a good job of linking all the missions together to make the game linear if you decide to go that route. With all the many side missions and all itís pretty hard to just stick to the missions.

Assassins Creed II is a definite upgrade to its predecessor. Everything has been improved upon in this game. The visuals accompanied by the subtle sound design that doesnít overpower the moments and the game are a nice added touch. A story set on revenge as you play as Ezio and learn of his past in order to help Desmond's future and present. A battle between the Templar and the Assassins in Renaissance Italy is the same battle thatís going on in the present with Desmond and his group. The story isnít completed in this but the end of Assassin Creed 2 gets you hyped up and ready for Assassins Creed Brotherhood. So get rich, kill a bunch of people and settle the score with the Templar who killed Ezioís family. Assassins Creed II is the best so far in the series definitely looking forward to the next one. If you havenít played this game yet what are you waiting for this adventure just got interesting.


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