After 38 straight hours of Assassin’s Creed II… haha, just kidding. After 38 hours of Assassin’s Creed II over the last few months, I have finally completed all 14 chapters of this single-player action adventure with a 97% rating. As anyone who has played either of the two Assassin’s games knows, Ubisoft loves to put random treasure hunts and grinds within their games in order to get what they refer to as extended replay value. Personally, I refuse to do these exercises in futility all the while teasing my best friend because “he must” complete them. For example, there are 100 random feathers hidden throughout all six areas of the game. I only found 21 of them in my travels.

Assassin's Creed II Cover

There were a number of “collect type” quests that I did complete, but these were all ingrained within the story, and I did not feel as though they were a chore to complete. I really enjoyed the six Assassin’s Tomb side-quests. They played a lot like Ubisoft’s sister game Prince of Persia, where crazy acrobatics wins you the prize. Completing all six of these dungeons also unlocks the best armor in the game, so it is well worth the trouble. As someone who never goes out of his way to complete “senseless quests”, I was really shocked and pleased to find that I had completed 97% of the game. The developers did a great job of leading you through a story while making you feel like you were calling the shots the entire time.

For anyone who hasn’t played the Assassin’s Creed games. The story revolves around Desmond Miles, a regular old modern guy who is part of an experiment using a device called the Animus that allows him to tap into the “genetic memory” of his ancestors. What Desmond doesn’t know is that he is being used as part of an ancient battle between the Templers and Assassins that goes back centuries. Using the Animus, Desmond is able to relive the memories of his Assassin ancestors and in doing so they hope to find the key to powerful artifacts that can be used to subjugate or save the world, depending on which side of the war you are on. Believe it or not, the Assassins are the good guys!

The story behind the Assassin’s Creed games can be confusing at times, but is quite intriguing. Much of Assassin’s Creed II takes place in Italy in the late 1400’s. You are reliving the memories of Ezio Auditore da Firenze in an effort to train Desmond on the ways of the Assassin, and to uncover an ancient artifact that will help in the battle against the Templers. Through the use of the Animus 2.0, most of the game is actually played in ancient Italy traversing the rooftops of the ancient cities of Venice and Rome among others. Many landmarks invoke small popup windows that the player can optionally pause to read. Some of them are very interesting and teach the player a bit about the rough life under Vatican-rule during those times. It makes the life of the Assassin seem rather noble in reflection.

Assassin’s Creed II is top-notch in the graphics department for Action games. Cranked all the way to its 1920×1200 glory, I really enjoyed the scenic views and sprawling landscapes all available for Ezio’s traversing. The game is overall a bit bloody for children, but I personally found the numerous killing methods with the myriad of weapons rather entertaining. Much like in the original, players are equipped with the hidden blade for assassinations and the sword for hand-to-hand combat. However, in this sequel, Ezio is close friends with Leonardo Davinci, famous painter and more importantly a famous inventor of the time. Because of this relationship, we gain numerous weapons (and a flying machine) throughout the game to assist with our efforts in killing the enemies before they know what hits them. While using Smoke Bombs to confuse the enemy sometimes has its place, I really enjoyed using the projectile blade to snipe my enemies from afar. It was unfortunate that you had to rearm the weapon after six shots, which meant a trip to one of the many supply shops scattered throughout the world.

Overall the gameplay for Assassin’s Creed II fixed many of my complaints about the original game. Most importantly the controls seemed a bit more refined, and I found myself leaping to my doom less often. I really like how they made it so that even if you fall from some astronomically high distance, you are typically still left with a minutia of life when you hit the ground. This really reduces the frustration that occurs when you make a bunch of flawless jumps only to go leaping in the absolutely wrong direction off a really high building. Ezio really can perform a lot of acrobatic feats, so even some of those crazy leaps turn out to be beneficial in the long run.

I would strongly recommend Assassin’s Creed II to anyone that enjoyed the first. Even if you didn’t complete the first game, as I did not, you will find that the sequel really keeps many of the facets that we all loved about the original, but fixes many of the frustrations. If you’ve never played either game, consider this game similar to Prince of Persia, the most popular game of the run-jump-do-awesome-things genre, and you get to assassinate people in really cool ways! If you purchase the game now, it comes with all of the downloadable content that was released after the game. This is important because technically it was released incomplete with memories 12 and 13 promised at a future date. Well luckily the rest of the game is out, and it can all be played in order to experience the story’s full effect. However, if you completed the game when it first game out, you can always load up your last saved game and continue the adventure. This is great for my obsessive-compulsive friend that must collect every feather…

Graphics: A- B+
Gameplay: A-
Story: B+
Enjoyment: B+
Replayability: D+