Final verdict: C+
Final playtime: 20+ hours
Does the Pope know sluts? Of course he does. What, you think the catholic church ain’t know how to party? That’s basically what Assassin’s Creed 2 is all about.
So, Ubisoft was basically given a golden ticket here. Somehow, Assassin’s Creed, an incredibly average game, became popular. I think mad cash money had something to do with this. Now, Assassin’s Creed pushed mediocrity to whole new levels. It took a story that had potential and forced you to jump through the same hoop about fifty times before it let you see any of it.
Obviously players didn’t like this, and Ubisoft heard their bitching and decided to do something about it with Assassin’s Creed 2. Now, instead of a vaguely interesting story trapped in a boring, repetitive but relatively short game, you have a vaguely interesting story trapped in an unbelievably long, boring, even more repetitive chore of a game, that culminates in some really stupid deus ex machina in the form of… aliens? Angels? Greek gods? Something about Adam and Eve?
The ending is at least a lot less ambiguous and vague than the first game’s, but it takes a rather huge leap into the Twilight Zone. Still, it wasn’t that surprising as the series has always been a gremlin on the wing since it began.
Alright, now that’s over with, let’s get down to business. Assassin’s Creed 2 is very easy. The only challenge the game presents is a simple test of your fortitude. If you can play it through to the end, you should get actual money. Okay, I can’t criticise a game for being long. One of the things I always complain about is games being too damn short, and I have to be fair, Assassin’s Creed 2 has really done what it can to give the players their money’s worth. And that’s great, but only for games that really try to make sure they’re a good experience for their entire length, but AssCreed 2 does no such thing. It’s uniformly stale throughout, once more repeating the same mistakes that were made with its predecessor.
Yet again, your missions are to do the same old shit time after time. There are probably a hundred assassination missions. You can guess what they involve. A bunch of “I think my husband is talking to another woman! Beat him up for me!” missions. HEY. YOU’RE HIDEOUS AND HIRING PEOPLE TO BEAT UP YOUR HUSBAND. MAYBE THAT’S WHY HE CHEATS ON YOU, YOU STUPID FUCKING BITCH. And the only challenge in any of these incredibly repetitive, same-old missions is the game’s schizophrenic process of determining what causes you to fail and what doesn’t. For instance, sometimes in a stealth assassination mission simply existing within a 100 foot radius of a target will cause you to fail, but another attempt at the same mission will allow you to simply sprint up to him and slit his throat, and won’t even piss off his bodyguards.
I do get the impression that Ubisoft Montreal did care about making their game better, they just lacked the experience and common sense required to actually figure out how. As such, nothing has changed except for the length of the game. The combat is still exactly the same, the gameplay in general hasn’t changed one iota. All changes are completely superficial; such as the fact that you can now use a whole bunch of different weapons and dye your clothes different colors. None of this has any effect on the gameplay, and it’s not even satisfying to upgrade your weapons because it makes no noticeable difference to the combat. There’s also the option of upgrading your home town by spending money fixing up all the shops and buildings, but this does nothing of any significant value and you won’t be missing out on anything if you don’t do it. They’ve added so much extra content to Assassin’s Creed 2, but none of it does a single thing.
Both of the Assassin’s Creed games feel manufactured, fake, like something grown in a laboratory. It’s like they’ve taken elements of other games, and themes that they thought would resonate well with gamers, and stitched them all together into some Frankenstein creation, but nobody can see this because the stitches are all hidden by the layers of money pasted all over them.
I’m going to give an example of what I feel is something that any real designer would notice, which I believe proves that the people at Ubisoft Montreal aren’t designers in the conventional sense, but are instead corporate mouth-whores who simply have a list of ideas that they relay to developers and programmers to tack onto the creation.
My example is the game’s movement system. Just pushing the analogue stick forwards isn’t enough to run. All that will do is walk very slowly. Then, to run, you have to hold down the right trigger. To run at full speed, you have to also hold down the A/X button, on the 360 and PS3 respectively. So that means that to run at full speed you have to move the stick and hold two different buttons down the entire time. Considering the fact that you will be sprinting more than 99% of the time while playing this game, this control scheme is really, really fucking irrational.
There is a design philosophy that can be applied to every aspect of design, whether it’s video games, websites, magazines, anything that needs to be designed, and that philosophy is that simple is always better. Any real designer knows this. Anybody who had a single clue about design, even in a general sense, would have made sprinting, or at least running, the default movement speed without having to press two buttons to do it. There’s absolutely no need for such a convoluted set of controls for the simplest of things. It’s pretty much a given that, due to the sheer size of the locations in the game, the player will want to be sprinting and climbing at all times, and as such, they shouldn’t need to be pressing multiple buttons to achieve the most basic aspect of the game. It would make entirely more sense if the player had to press the buttons to not sprint, for the incredibly rare occasions when they’ll want to keep a low profile or keep their distance from a target.
sCreed’s got this feature where you can make yourself less infamous by pulling down wanted posters of yourself. The idea is that once you’ve taken a bunch of them down, people won’t recognise you as easily, and your notoriety decreases. Something I found strange, though, is that the wanted posters are high up on rooftops and in places that can’t even be seen by the civilians in the street, so I have no idea how removing them would actually achieve anything in a literal sense, because nobody can even see the posters unless they climb up onto rooftops. Perhaps removing all the posters gives Ezio the confidence he needs to walk around in public without attracting attention?
Ezio has this really annoying habit of attacking civilians even if you aren’t targeting them. You could be walking up to a guard, and you have him targeted and he’s glowing white to intimate that he’s the one you’ll attack, but when you attempt to do so, Ezio instead decides that a nearby civilian and his wife are much more of a threat to him and slams his wrist blades into their heads, murdering them both in plain sight of the guards you were sneaking up on and forcing you into yet another fight or flight scenario where you have to choose between a long, boring session of waiting for the enemies to attack you so you can kill them, or running away, and having a long, boring game of ring-around-the-roses that will likely end in a long, boring session of waiting for the enemies to attack you so you can kill them anyway.
All in all, this game is just as average as the last, but it does at least set an example to everyone else by proving that development time and disc space don’t mean SHIT and you really can make a game last a long time if you actually care enough about it.
Final verdict: C+
Final playtime: 20+ hours