Game News, Reviews and Industry Related Training
By Joseph Tresca
When the original Assassin’s Creed was released, the gameplay mechanic that allowed me to climb and scale just about any building or wall in the environment felt fresh. Because this new game mechanic was central to success and failure in the game I became admittedly obsessed with mastering the techniques required to assassinate foes from the dark.
The original game had a few main problems though. The first problem was that the A.I. was dumber than rocks. You could murder someone in town and then turn a corner instantly and the guards who were intent on apprehending you a moment ago would forget what you looked like as if they were all afflicted with a very bad case of Alzheimer’s. The second problem many reviewers had with the game was that it became incredibly repetitive. There were three types of ‘quests’ you could complete and they became boring very quickly.
Whether you loved it or not depended on how willing you were to slog through and support Ubisoft as they pioneered a new gameplay technique. Those of us who were hooked would say, ‘Sure it had problems but what potential it had!’
I’ll simplify this review for those of you who are less patient. Assassin’s Creed 2 improves upon every aspect of the first game yet it still misses the mark. I’ve personally concluded that this game is more or less what the first game should have been, but to me having played the first, it really feels like more of the same.
The main reason for this is probably because I could care less about the main character. I could care less about the character he becomes when he’s jacked in. I think the story line in this game is just terrible. I can see how perhaps someone having never played the first game may think this game is refreshing and new but I cannot stress enough how it felt like more of the same.
So lets talk about how things have improved. Graphically the game has been given a facelift. Textures are sharper, characters facial animations are a bit more realistic and overall the draw distance when perched atop an eagle’s nest is stunning.
The A.I. is much much more intelligent now, though still not the sharpest tools in the shed, they do exhibit nearly the same degree of forgetfulness that their predecessors from the first game did. However I did notice them coordinating their efforts to find me by quickly assembling into a relentless search party that would chase me up buildings. The notoriety system is also a major improvement. I especially enjoyed pulling down wanted posters from the city buildings.
There are also a number of added gameplay mechanics such as the ability to steal money from citizens or to increase your bank account by doing the various side quests. At one point in the game you can begin putting this money to use by restoring your uncle’s town. You can renovate an armor smith’s shop for instance so that you’ll be able to get a discount when your armor begins to degrade. Likewise you can rebuild a doctor’s shop to receive discounts on health restoration. The problem I have with all this is that it seems like filler. It borrows heavily from MMORPGs and while I’m sure these added features will impress some players, I would have preferred much more emphasis on crafting new weapons or improved combat.
The combat in Assassin’s Creed 2 isn’t bad by any means. In fact although it is perhaps a bit too complicated it is also very deep and will take some time to master. I would like to make a special note to how cool the double blade kill is.
So should you buy Assassin’s Creed 2? Yes if you haven’t played the first game, definitely not if you have.