Assassin's Creed II is the follow-up to the best-selling blockbuster on PlayStation 3, as the deftly crafted story by Ubisoft Montreal picks up right where the first one left off. In 2012, you met Desmond, the central character from the first game who was kidnapped by Abstergo Industries and subjected to gruelling sessions in the Animus, a machine with the ability to search through the genetic memories of anyone placed in it. The reasons for this are twofold: to train Desmond in assassin skills that he can apply in the present day, and to uncover the whereabouts of the remaining Pieces of Eden, the objects that Abstergo Industries originally kidnapped Desmond for in the original Assassin's Creed.
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After the initial confusion at the end of the first game this one sets off where the last one left off throwing you straight into battles and getting used to the controls. For the first part of the game you will have to follow the story instead of having the option of free roaming and this lasts for around 30 minutes.
The story in this game revolves around the "Animus", a powerful machine which makes it possible to view genetic memories of the protagonist Desmond Miles' ancestors, a long line of assassins which stems back to the original game. This time you enter late fifteenth century Italy during the Renaissance era and take control of a young nobleman-turned-assassin named Ezio Auditore Da Firenze who, after witnessing his family being murdered, sets off on a journey to uncover a hidden conspiracy relating to that murder.
The graphics are good and much the same as the first game with a few jitters in frame rate from time to time. Not much has changed in the way of controls either, a few more moves have been added and the free running seems to work well. That is, until you are in a rush and little things like jumping away from a wall you are climbing, or diving off buildings when you didn't want to jump off, can be frustrating and time consuming especially when you are against the clock. This however is a small glitch and, once I learned to let go of "X" at places which I deemed to be dodgy areas, I found this problem happening less often. When climbing specific areas and scaling to reach certain levels you often need to be more accurate with the left analog stick or you may sometimes miss your intended landing point and will then have to scale the building again.
The battle mode and combat system is pretty much the same, you can now take weapons from your enemies and vice versa, you can visit shops and purchase weapons with money obtained within the game along with various upgrades. For instance, you can upgrade your pouch to hold more weapons, buy health packs, upgrade armor, upgrade clothing, even owning some of the shops that sell such items and so earning money from them.
Assassination jobs are much easier to achieve than in the first game, you also have more of them which is a good thing but I would have liked them to be more of a challenge overall. The problem, perhaps the only problem with Assassins Creed is the fact that, once mastered, it is easy to takedown even the biggest of enemies.
Evading enemies is also much easier in this game, you can in most cases outrun the guards and head for deep water, or pay prostitutes who will distract the guards, this is useful in stealth style killing. You also have the advantage of having a double blade which means that you can kill two guards at once.
Overall Assassin's Creed II is a masterpiece of gaming. The developers, Ubisoft, did an outstanding job with the first release, and this is simply an extension of what is considered by many to be the greatest game ever made.