It’s been a month since I last posted an LttP post and so, today I’m covering Assassin’s Creed 2 – a game I just finished today on stream. FINALLY. Today, I’m going to cover my thoughts on AC2, the improvements over the first title, what I liked a lot and what I didn’t like.
Note: This is not a review. Hence, there will be spoilers. If you mind spoilers from a game that is twelve years old then… this post may not be for you. Also… the featured image for this is a fanart I did before I played it… I hope you like it.
So, Assassin’s Creed 2 picks off where the first game left off. We’re Desmond Miles in the present day who’s now escaping Abstergo and entering the Animus again, now by choice, to train to become an assassin through the memories of Renaissance Italy’s Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The graphics are more polished already and being in Renaissance Italy adds a lot of much-needed colour to the world with pretty structures and architecture in the world, lots of different colours and amazing weapon types. The world looks better and while the Animus-stuff is still in the game, we get booted out of the past only about three times during the whole game, including the end, which is why you have more than enough time to explore the world and not get bothered by this weird Animus-storyline that nobody cares about. I’ve heard that the later games drop it completely, which is great… because really, nobody cares about that.
Ezio Auditore wasn’t always an assassin. In fact, we know how to fight… kind of… and how to free-run… but the game tells the story of our family, the Auditore family, helping out the Medici familia to uncover the truth of a plot against the state… but we get betrayed and our little brother, our big brother and our father get hanged publicly for conspiring against the state. Driven by revenge, Ezio’s now hunting down the conspirators and putting a lot of different names on a death list. As time goes on, we get trained in the ways of the Assassin’s since our family belonged to the Creed, known from the first game. It might be a bit overwhelming at first but the storyline is already a lot better than the first game. We get to murder different historical characters and the fact that we get to meet people like Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli in person and work together with them is amazing. On top of that, the game also ties in other historic characters like Dante Alighieri into the storyline and even mentions Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, known from the first game. Amazing!
The little conversations between the characters are full of historic/political references which were nice. At the same time, the game allows itself to crack a joke here and there. I still can’t get over the fact that Ezio’s uncle introduced himself with “It’s-a meeee, Mario!” – It cracked me up.
The gameplay itself saw a lot of improvement as well. You don’t have the annoying content gating anymore. You can do sidequests whenever you want to and explore at your own leisure. Now and then, areas are still not available because they are from later story-lines and get unlocked later, which kind of sucks, but you can explore as much as you want to or just rush through the story within hours. The choice is yours. You don’t have to do side quests anymore, unlike the first game where you were forced to do three or more side quests to proceed with the story. It was annoying but Assassin’s Creed 2 shows that it’s a thing of the past and you’re not forced to do that… so you can do it whenever you feel like it, which I really enjoyed. Side Quests are great if you aren’t forced to do them. I’ll talk more about that later. Exploration doesn’t consist of 1000 banners or something like that to collect but rather is about feathers… that have some meaning, I guess… and you have statues and treasures as well as viewpoints. As you move around and explore, you’ll amass a lot of money… which can then be invested into new gear, weapons, tools and upgrades for the Villa. Upgrading the villa and adding new buildings, brings in more people and makes it come to life and makes it so that you earn money.
Earning money, investing it into the Villa’s/City’s value, and then making more money is amazing. It feels good and adds another layer to the game… it’s almost strategic in a way and you benefit from it through a steady income that can be invested into better gear over time.
Now, exploration is cool and still features jumping puzzles and free-running. It’s a lot faster than in the first game, though, which makes it somewhat worthwhile. On top of that, there’s now Assassin’s Tombs and Templar’s Lairs in the game that you have to raid. These involve jumping puzzles that you need to complete in order to obtain treasures and seals. You need six seals for Altair’s armour… which is the best armour in the game, really, so it’s worthwhile.
But from good changes and nice things to bad things: The game just drags on and on. While at first refreshing, the new missions feel boring eventually. There are races, beat-up missions, and assassination contracts among other missions and it overall feels like the same thing over and over again. Chuck in some Escort missions here and there or some slow missions where some NPC is telling you a story and you need to walk very slowly next to them. Instead of creating a cutscene for it, Ubisoft decided to go for these small missions that kind of slow down the pace and reduce the momentum momentarily, which is a bit annoying, to say the least. I didn’t like that personally speaking and would have loved it if they had just gone for cutscenes in those case or if we had to do parkour somewhere while Shaun is telling us the information or something. This trend continues into areas like combat with the combat mechanics at first feeling refreshing with a lot of different weapons and new animations as well as a lot of new systems and skills… but eventually, it just turns into a button-mashing contest where you spam X until people die. Especially with swift weapons like swords and daggers, it becomes a bit too easy, as you just attack the enemy over and over and over again until they die eventually. Even if they block most of your attacks or counter them, you can still counter their counter and continue attacking them, often stun-locking them into walls, until they die. Combat has plenty of mechanics like taunting, disarming, throwing, dodging, countering, etc. but it just feels like a button-mashing contest with some mechanics in it for the sake of style points. You can either dodge and attack three times… or you attack three times… it doesn’t make a difference, especially with how frequently you can heal yourself or purchase more healings.
At the same time, the game eventually has this plotline where everyone is an assassin apparently and we get initiated into the creed and end up chasing after the Pope who’s our last target… and to do so… there’s this siege at a fortress and a map we get and we have to save two children and kill nine lieutenants and it just is a bit of a mess. The first game? It was predictable. Oh no, our teacher and father-figure is going to betray us and be our last target? Who would have thought?! The second game… starts off strong and falls off after 20+ hours as you have no idea what’s going on anymore. The game suddenly introduces new enemies and you have to do these super tedious missions all of a sudden… and then… to unlock the final mission, you need to gather all 30 codex pages. Luckily, I got 28 already… but I had to backtrack for half an hour to find the last two so that I could beat the last two missions. The second-last mission was kind of fun… but that last one with the boss fight was just annoying.
And well, the boss fight is… another mess that just could fill out a post on its own. Ezio has a piece of Eden and the Pope has one… and Ezio is the prophet and Pope Borgia is believing that he’s actually it, so they battle for the other piece of Eden to gain supreme power. The Pope suddenly has Yedi powers like Darth Vader and can fucking make us fly and stab us… but we still survive that with no issues at all for whatever reason… and all of a sudden we know how to utilize our piece of Eden and create four copies of ourselves that fight alongside us. When did we learn that? Never, we just had this Deus Ex Machina moment allowing us to pull that technique out of our arse. It’s not Ass Creed for nothing, right? Once we beat the Pope in a fist-fight during which he didn’t cheat for whatever reason, we enter the Vault… where Minerva… a Goddess… is revealing the truth and the prophecy to us. Minerva and the other Gods created us but they’re not gods… they’re aliens… or something like that. They were very advanced but got betrayed by the humans they created and lost because of the numbers advantage. And then Earth got fucked up by the sun or something… and that’s gonna happen again, so Minerva is speaking through Ezio to Desmond (yup) to warn him about the catastrophe that is yet to come and the templars that want to embrace it… and then the game ends.
Sadly there were no achievements on Steam available since I finished at least 75% of the content in the game after 30.3 hours in the game. I’m missing a few treasures, a lot of feathers and a few paintings but otherwise I should be done, collectible-wise. What frustrated me was the requirement of Ubisoft for me to start up the game on Steam… why? Idk…
So, I could also go into the sexism in the game and the at times janky controls but overall, I feel like it was an alright game. It was certainly A LOT better than Assassin’s Creed 1 but the story struggled later on and combat and the controls ended up disappointing me. However, I’m still looking forward to playing Brotherhood eventually once I get to that on stream.
Ass Creed 2 was alright. What are your thoughts on it? Did you play it? And if not, would you play it now? Let me know!