In Assassin's Creed II, players are given total freedom to explore multiple cities, but with greatly improved parkour skills and the new ability to swim. There's also a lot more variety in the missions you undertake - the main complaint with the original game- so you'll never feel you're just doing the same tasks over and over again. Combat has also been completely overhauled, with dozens of different weapons and a new health system. With no less than Leonardo da Vinci acting as your very own Q style gadget master this stunning sequel improves on every element of the original.
There is a strange situation associated with this game, however. In order to play it, you have to have a permanent internet connection, which is something mentioned on the outside of the box. If that were a MMO game it would make sense, but Assassin’s Creed II is a single-player only adventure. If you don’t have an internet connection, you can’t play the game, and if you lose your connection while you’re playing, the game pauses. This is a strange convention that leads to situations where you sometimes want to play the game, but cannot. Hopefully this isn’t the beginning of a trend for PC games.
The story in this game follows Ezio Auditore da Firenze, the ancient ancestor of a modern-day character, Desmond Miles, who was in the original game. You’ll adventure with Ezio through 15th-century Italy as you seek to unravel the mystery behind a murder caused by the enemies of the assassins, the Templars.
This world of 15th-century Italy is an incredible simulation of that time period in its own right. Merchant sweep the streets, the citizenry visits shops, couples pass by, engaged in conversation. It’s an incredibly lifelike world that is as much fun to just experience as it is to accomplish tasks in. Even more enjoyable are the enormous, beautiful vistas that are witnessed when you climb higher up in the city. The game has impressive lighting and textures and you’ll be stunned at times by its beauty.
Climbing buildings to gain a beautiful viewpoint is not their only purpose, however. Moving around on rooftops is an essential part of the game, and you’ll enjoy how responsive and nimble your character is at this. Leaping from one rooftop to another is quite fun, and important to a great many missions throughout the game. The balance between moves that you need to pull off, and moves that are done automatically is balanced very well, so you can feel comfortable that you’ll be able to get to where you’re trying to go without accidentally falling off a wall in the process.
A game called Assassin’s Creed can’t be all about running and climbing, however. There has to be some assassination, and Ezio is more-than-skilled in this regard. In addition to the original hidden blade moves that allowed either a low or high-profile kill, there is also the capability to perform double assassinations. Merely walk between two poor, unsuspecting guards and you’ll be able to stab them both and walk away as if you were never there. You can also assassinate your targets from below, or above, pulling them up, or down as necessary and ending their pathetic lives.
While Assassin’s Creed II does do the things that a sequel should do, it does have its issues that need to be dealt with. Gamers will have to decide if dealing with those issues is worth the $60 price tag on the title to experience this diverse, interesting, and fun game world.