Saturday, February 20, 2010

Assassin's Creed 2 - Scientists Gone Stabby


Title: Assassin's Creed II

Publisher: Ubisoft (2010)

Scientists' Stats -
Time Played: 6hrs 43min
Last Achievement Earned: Steal Home
Last significant Event: Assassinated Stefano Da Bagnone

I was dubious at the outset when a street brawl was the opening scene of the game. I mean, seriously, I signed up for the cool armor and the awesome arm cape (more on that later) and I'm punching guys in a street brawl??? But on the upside I did like the interaction of Ezio with his brother Federico. Then of course they go free running along roofs and other cool shit so I'm like, ok, the brawling is over and now we can get serious. But then Ezio goes running across roofs and slips through the window of his girlfriend's house. Hmmm, what kind of game is this?

So thankfully you do eventually get round to your awesome armor and the super rad outfit. But before and after that there's all this meandering about getting to know Ezio's family. Let me be clear that I really like Ezio's family and the development of his relationship with them is definitely a strength of the game but really? I need to spend HOURS on this? I believe my initial response was, "I'd like a little less family and a little more stabby." As Zero Punctuation mentions regarding the first game in the series it sometimes feels like it could be called Faffing About Creed.

Eventually the stabby does come along but the development is still slow. Also, I feel like there's no cohesiveness to Ezio's actions. He sort goes round taking instructions from anyone. It appears he's on the right track but these Assassins are a group, they have a CREED for crap's sake, and I haven't seen any other assassins yet. Where are they? Why did they not come to talk to Ezio as soon as he took over for his father?

So I turned to my gaming expert partner and he doesn't know where all these assassins are either. But he did point out that many assassination assignments come via carrier pigeon and we can assume those are from the Assassins. Well done Ubisoft! Carrier pigeons. Totally boss!

Also, I was complaining about the graphics not being as good as the first game. Jeff asks... do you think it's because the graphics aren't done as well or that it's the inherent differences of the setting? I definitely think it's because the art is not as well done. In ACI the landscapes/city views were vibrant and absolutely phenomenal. In ACII the immediate surroundings are as detailed and awesome as ever but in the Eagle Views the far away stuff just sort of dematerializes into a mist. Lamers!

Another question for Jeff: What do you think about the plot development in ACII vs ACI? Oh, and what, so far, do you think is the most improved aspect from I to II?


Well, we're six hours in and I definitely don't hate AC2. There's a lot of improvement here, though a few aspects are perplexingly similar to the last game. Ezio is a far more compelling character than Altair was...we've gone from dim-witted but cocky errand boy to self-motivated vengeance seeker. That's a big step up.

But the biggest improvement is the story structure. In AC1, you're told to kill a bunch of people because...they're bad? It really wasn't all that clear. Only late in the game did they start to hint at a greater conspiracy, which was suddenly revealed at the very end. Shoehorning all the interesting bits into the last hour of the game was clumsy and made the rest of the game boring. In AC2, we're only a few hours in and have already been embroiled in conspiracies and political intrigue. Best of all, there have been specific, clear reasons for assassinating each person we've killed so far. It gives the player's actions context within the plot.

Of course, there are still some mysteries, but that SHOULD be the case. We just have to hope that they tie up most of the loose ends by the game's finish.

Rachel is not digging the landscape art as much as AC1. I agree that the game seems to have more fog obscuring the horizon, which is a downer. However, I have to say that I'm enjoying the cities a little more this time simply because I've been to Florence, so I can compare the visuals with the real thing as I remember it. It's an interesting experience to be playing a game and suddenly think, "I remember that church!" The real question is: do you think it's an accurate depiction of what 15th century Florence would look like?

And another question for you Rachel...what part of the game is unchanged that definitely should have been fixed?

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