Assassin's Creed II (Xbox 360)

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After playing a few minutes of the first Assassin's Creed and really disliking it for its tame combat and bad frame rate, I had never expected to like the sequel. However, after watching some gameplay of the new follow-up game, Brotherhood, and listening to many a rave review praising this game, I decided that I would give it a chance. The time it had taken me to come around on it, had made the game a modest investment (108 DKK total at CDON).
The first scene of the game takes place in the real world outside the Animus (think: the Matrix), and I must admit that it confirmed my low expectations. It was ugly, janky, and uninteresting. Actually, all the non-15th-centure sequences in this game are really bad. Fortunately, there are not many of them. Most of the game takes place in a beautifully rendered rennaisance Italy, filled with lifelike NPCs and an immersive atmosphere.
The gameplay is solid, consisting of three main parts: city traversal, which is very well done, and probably the most famed feature of this game, some extremely forgiving stealth action reminiscent of Tenchu, and some very light but well-designed combat, mostly focused on knowing a few different enemy types and doing proper counter-attacks, which could be compared to the combat of Batman: Arkham Asylum, but infinitely less interesting and more slow moving.
Having used the terms 'light', 'slow-moving', and 'well-designed' describes this game concisely. It is obviously designed for the inexperienced casual gamer, the challenge is almost nonexistant and progress is inevitable, but the whole thing is so well-done, that you can't help enjoying the ride. The few blemishes on the gameplay are more than outweighed by the general smooth experience. Speaking of smooth, unlike its predecessor, this game boasts a high stable frame rate.
And Assassin's Creed II has an ace up its sleeve that makes it rise above other well-designed casual games; the story is well done. And just 'well done' is quite a feat in a genre of games, where good stories seem to be almost impossible. The story starts out entertaining and slightly mysterious, but as you play, you get sucked into layer upon layer of mystery. The crazyness of the ending cannot be understated. If anyone has managed to dodge spoilers for this game, the ending is definitely worth the effort taken to reach it. And of course, the end just raises a myriad of new questions, which future AC games may or may not address. Suffice it to say, I'm intrigued.
Or to put the plot analysis in the words of main protagonist Desmond Miles after discovering the big secret behind the events that had occured: 'What. The. Fuck.'
screenshot
Assassin's Creed II

Log entries

    2011-02-12
  • [932]
    Started playing in Italian. I'm definitely not impressed with this so far - the character models look terrible, the dialogue is boring and slow, and the game is pretty janky in spots.
  • 2011-02-14
  • [935]
    Completed Sequence 1/12. So far, I'm not hating the gameplay. The metagame structure keeps me playing, and the basic running around (and on top of the city) is satisfying.
  • [936]
    Completed Sequence 2/12. It's-a me, mario! ... So stupid.
  • 2011-02-16
  • [941]
    Completed Sequence 3/12. I'm really starting to come around on this. The more I play it, the more I enjoy it. At this point in the game, where the basic running around and stabbing people is slowly starting to lose its novelty, several great metagame mechanics are suddenly revealed: armor collection, city building, codex pages, the Altaïr armor in the tomb. Great stuff. Also, I'm starting to realize the power that an assassin has. In the beginning of the game, I was enjoying myself, punching random people on the street, and tackling respectable women for the hell of it. But that was before. Today, I was walking around Firenze, minding my own business (my notoriety was 0), and suddenly some guards pushed me around for no reason. Well, I did the only sensible thing and crawled onto the building, below which they were standing and dropped down and stabbed them all in quick succesion. Take that, cop. Wait, I can't stab troubadours without repercussions?
  • [942]
    The Inception- / Matrix-ish level loading effect with grid lines, shifting light sources, and rescaling models is so cool.
  • [943]
    Completed Sequence 4/12.
  • 2011-02-28
  • [964]
    Completed Sequence 5/12. Played a slightly broken dream-sequence-type thing with the protagonist of the previous game, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, which I think should have been made into a cut-scene; the level design and gameplay seemed unfinished and put a blemish on an otherwise great game. After being confused by the level design in that level, Ezio travels to Venice. At this point, I have experienced some of the game's less impressive elements, mostly some slightly unfinished level design. Also, it seems annoying to have to go back to Villa Auditore to transfer money, because 'it runs full', which seems like an arbitrary limit. Still, the game remains thoroughly enjoyable, and I look forward to playing more of it.
  • 2011-03-04
  • [971]
    Completed Sequence 7/12.
  • 2011-03-12
  • [981]
    Completed Sequence 9/12.
  • 2011-03-13
  • [982]
    completed the game. Completed the last sequence, and man ... that went real crazy. The gameplay and the cutscenes of the final Rome sequence, like the Altaïr sequence earlier, seemed unfinished and buggy, but the story overshadows those shortcomings in its great wacky conspiration theory insanity.


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