Sunday, 12 February 2012

Game Review #1 - Assassins Creed II

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Released November 20th 2009 – Action-adventure, Open world, Stealth.

              Although I haven’t played the prequel ‘Assassin’s Creed’ this certainly was not one of those games where you HAD to play the first one to understand what is going on. It really is a well rounded game with stunning visuals, engaging environments and a stable combat system that provides endless fun killing people. I particularly enjoyed the setting as it has great historical reference to the renaissance, so I can see now as I have had a little taste of modelling and designing myself, this would be a very tough challenge for Ubisoft’s art team. The game begins with a character called Desmond Miles explaining his ‘story’, the introduction also hints at the first game so there is some quick cinematic backtracking to the prequel. It is a very well thought out game as you go through two characters and worlds; Desmond becomes ‘Ezio Auditore da Firenze’ through some technology called an Animus, allowing Desmond to playback through Ezio’s memories.

As you begin playing you find yourself in 1476. Fiorentina, Italy. One thing to note about this game is the brilliant attention that has been put into the combat and acrobatic systems. You can pretty much run or jump across the whole city, climbing towers, houses, and other assets with ease.  Personally I really enjoy Action-adventure games where the combat system is NOT turned based, so you can combine moves in real time as your opponent does the same, purely because it adds great realism. This is one of those beginning, middle and end style games so there are no cliff hangers or frustrating unknown holes in the narrative. It is a very original game that combines puzzles with assassinations, conspiracy and betrayal. The Acrobatics and Stealth systems are unique, used frequently to complete the quests, or you can just go on a killing spree and still remain alive. In many games this is the case where you can run around, kill everyone and complete the game by rushing everything, but in Assassin’s Creed 2 there are frequently quests given where you must not be discovered or you will fail; much like Metal Gear Solid at times.

Ezio seems to begin as a normal, family person who can’t seem to stay out of trouble so you are not pushed into a conspiracy driven game where you are forced information, instead the character finds himself progressing as an Assassin due to conflicts and corruptions he experiences which works in great favour for the game. I think the main factor that made my experience really unique was the environment itself, its primary locations involve four large Italian cities modelled in great scale to embody Florence, Venice, Forli, Monteriggioni and Tuscany (small home town) although I don’t recall them perfectly as I played it almost a year ago now I think there may be a hint of Roma as well. I must say the architecture is breathtaking as you not only experiencing it from streets looking up but also from on top of the structures. The central focal point of the narrative is corruption within the high ranks of religion and politics, the game progresses to reveal that the ones with power want to dominate the population using some sort of sacred or esoteric items, and all is explained as you go through taking down these corrupt rulers.   

Overall it is a VERY good game, although the prequel didn’t get as great reviews as this one I think the whole series of ‘Assassin’s Creed’ is very unique and it is also not one of those gamer heavy games where you can only play it if you are some hardcore everyday 24/7 gaming machine. There seems to be something for everyone in terms of storyline, setting, character’s, gameplay, infact I think it’s fair to say most people would enjoy this game. I don’t think hardcore nuts could complain that it’s too short or too easy but at the same time new gamers can’t be put off by saying it’s too difficult or it drags on. I also really like the guest appearance of Leonardo Da Vinci in the game as a designer or weapons provider for Ezio, I think this was a must reference paying homage to one of the biggest names of the time period. Though I don’t get to play many games at the moment nor am I a solid gamer I may have to buy the sequels in the summer when I get some time off and may even get to review those too.  

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