Thursday, February 18, 2010

Assassin's Creed 2: Game Review

Assassin's Creed 2 shares many of the same strengths and weaknesses with its predecessor. It's incredibly deep and rich, but suffers from the same extremes of difficulty (zero for most of the game, punctuated by spurts of tediously demanding perfection) that the first one did.

First, it looks amazing. The architecture and dress of 15th-century Italy is lovingly represented in fantastic detail. There are moments where you'll reach the tip of a steeple and simply pan the camera in every direction to soak in the amazing view. Since I've never been to Venice, it was a real pleasure to run around and experience the City of Canals "firsthand".

Second, the designers directly addressed one of my complaints from the first game - lack of character development. A character can be improved through weapons and armor and healed with medicine - these items can be looted or bought with looted gold. An additional area of development and source of income is your personal villa, which starts out shoddy but can be invested in and rebuilt throughout the game. While I certainly appreciated these additions, they turned out to be pointless. Once mastery of the counter and disarms moves are achieved, you can slay hordes of enemies without a scratch. Towards the end of the game I never bothered to draw my sword - it was more fun (and slightly more challenging) to disarm each enemy and kill them with their own weapon. Another problem with the "customization" is that can all be accomplished easily on the first playthrough, crushing the replay value.

Third, the expanded lore of the second volume does not disappoint. While a bit corny, I give the authors tremendous credit for the sheer ambition of their vision. I don't want to rewrite everything you can read on the wiki, but they attempt to explain the creation (and possible extermination) of mankind, the origins of religion, the rise to power of many historical figures, the construction of architecturally-similar pyramids all around the ancient world, the Mayan doomsday calendar, and unexplained events (like Tunguska), all woven together with the threads of everyone's favorite conspiracy-theory organization, the Templars.

Overall, an impressive game that could have been even more. Worth buying (used) and definitely worth playing once.

Here's a video from the game, called The Truth, which you piece together by uncovering glyphs throughout the game and deciphering puzzles. It shows two humans who are escaping from their masters, known only as Those Who Came Before, with a mind-control device known as an Apple of Eden.


At 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any interest in the newly released BioShock 2 Sweet Tea?

Let us know how it plays, inquiring minds want to know!


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