Assassin’s Creed 2 (AC2) tells the story of Desmond Miles, who is tossed into a historical conflict between Assassins and Templars. Desmond’s story takes place in modern times, where he must use a machine called an Animus to relive the memories of his ancestor Ezio Auditore. As Ezio, the player must sneak, climb, and murder their way across renaissance Italy to fight against the Templars and discover the truth about this ancient conflict between two factions.
The gameplay of AC2 consists of open-world exploration across four cities and some additional small areas. You may take on main and side missions at will and explore the cities as you like in between. There are also collectibles to be found scattered throughout the game. The gameplay hook of AC2 is social stealth. You can blend into crowds and become invisible to your enemies, allowing you to reach your target and assassinate them. If you are discovered, you must fight enemies in open combat or escape.
Stealth in AC2 is mostly executed well, but I find it disappointing that assassinating your target will often lead to a cutscene, which automatically triggers combat, and you are forced to fight or run away. It would be more interesting, if the player could escape in stealth instead of being forced into running from guards after a successful assassination. In addition to blending into crowds, Ezio can climb buildings and move across rooftops and other structures to find different ways to approach enemies.
Combat is quite typical for a third-person adventure game. You may attack, block and counter enemy attacks. In melee combat you may choose from the iconic Hidden Blade, a dagger, a sword, and fists. Unfortunately, after a mandatory upgrade early on the Hidden Blade becomes the best weapon in the game, making all other weapons obsolete. While this does not make the combat worse, it does discourage investing time and money into new weapons and equipment.
The story and characters are one of the game’s strengths. The game’s writing and narrative rank among the best in the Assassin’s Creed series and Ezio, the Italian charmer, is one of the most likable protagonists in any game I’ve played. The game’s presentation has style despite its age and the soundtrack is worthy of praise. The string arrangements and choirs really bring AC2’s version of Italy to life.
As a final point, I would argue that AC2 is one of the best sequels there is. While it’s not a perfect game, it took the first Assassin’s Creed and improved it in every way possible, creating a solid foundation for what the series would become famous for: A fictional story that adds its own spin on real history with a murderous twist.
Game: Assassin’s Creed 2
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: November 17, 2009
All pictures were taken in-game by the author.
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