As I already liked its prequel I was looking forward to the release of Assassin’s Creed II. It continues the story of Desmond Miles who got involved in a war between two secret organisations, the Assassins and the Templars. Once again Desmond uses a machine called the Animus to relive the memories of one of his ancestors.
The basic course of the game hasn’t changed since the first game. You control a character who moves in a three dimensional landscape resembling historic sites. This time the story line takes you to Italy in the late 15th century where you guide an assassin going by the name of Ezio Auditore during his search for the murderers of his father and brothers.
The game retained all the advantages of its prequel:
- Brilliant graphics, especially the virtual Venice is worth seeing.
- Cities full of people who socially interact with your character.
- A fighting system well-balanced between challenge and fairness.
- A fascinating storyline.
The designers also got rid of the annoying parts:
- No more investigation phases to unlock main missions.
- Collecting flags is (mostly) gone.
- No tedious horse riding through a landscape full of aggressive, respawning soldiers.
- The interruptions by the plot taking place in the present time are less frequent and less irritating.
New elements make the game even more interesting:
- The goal of the main missions vary to some degree. Dispatching an enemy is often not good enough. You e.g. need to follow him to a secret meeting without being discovered first.
- Treasure hunts in dungeons which require expert climbing and careful jumping pay homage to Tomb Raider.
- Running the Auditore family’s countryside villa introduces an admittedly very simple economic simulation into the game.
- The ability to buy weapons, armour and other equipment or get extra training for money adds elements of a role-playing game.
All in all Assassin’s Creed II provides hours of fun with just the right level of difficulty accompanied by an entertaining story. I’m already looking forward to the third part of the series.