Welcome back to what will be my super long series where I rank all of the console Assassin's Creed games. For those who didn't read the first part, I am changing up the way on how I rank games by making a blog for each one and letting the rank be on a list instead of making one blog of all of the games ranked. I am doing this because it allows me to talk more about the games, track them easier, and have the list open to future games. On every blog I will have a link to the list and on the list I will have links to the blogs (link to the list found here). And if you want to know, I am playing all of the games on PC. Without further ado, let's get into AC 2.
Wow. Just, wow. Talk about a major improvement. I wasn't expecting so many improvements and then some, but here we are. Despite my positive experience with the first game, I had a good amount of issues with the game, and this game just fixed them all. Their were some issues I had with this game, but they are no match for the improvements. Everything from the parkour to the story elements to even the world has been improved upon, and new additions to the game makes it even better while still keeping what makes the game great. So, let's get into these improvements and additions that makes this game fantastic.
In AC2, you play as Ezio Auditore, an Italian young man whose life was simple until those damn pesky Templars came in and killed half of his family. It's there where he decides to flee with the rest of his family to his Uncle who teaches him the ways of the Assassins. It's there where he embarks on a journey across Italy to avenge his family and keep pieces of Eden from the Templars. And in the future timeline, Desmond is rescued by the undercover Assassin Lucy and is taken to their secret facility where they use their own Animus to train Desmond on becoming a fighter and learning the history of Ezio.
In just about every way, the story in this game has improved over the last. Characters have much more personality to the point where I enjoy escort missions with no enemies to fight just to hear what they have to say, the story is much more intriguing, and this time they left the game on a good cliff hanger, side plots such as subject 16 makes the story more interesting, and there are less parts outside of the Animus. Plus, stuff like the history and real historical figures are much more interesting because of the ways AC2 plays around with history and the consistent Italian setting compared to the country hopping of the first game. I can't tell you a single historical figure I can remember in the first game, but I can easily recall the times when I go to Leonardi Da Vinci to uncover secret messages, or the time where I saved Lorenzo De Medici's life, or even when I had a fist fight with Rodrigo Borgia in the Vatican. Everything about the story is much better than the first game, with one exception. I miss the way the story and gameplay was structured to how the game was about assassinating nine targets and all of that, but I also think straying away from that style of story telling allowed the gameplay to be less repetitive. Speaking of which, let's get into gameplay.
The story may have been given some upgrades, but its the gameplay that really got the uplift. Just about everything you can think of got an upgrade gameplay-wise. Parkour is faster, smoother, and has some new features like a jump climb. Combat has been improved in many ways such as new assassination techniques like ledge kills and hiding spot kills, new types of enemies, more difficult encounters so you can't just keep counter-killing over and over, health bars on enemies, no auto-healing, new weapon types, new defensive and offensives moves, and much more. Stealth and running away has been improved on with a new crowd-blending mechanic, restricted areas, guards checking stealth areas to make things more difficult, a new notoriety system, and a zone where last seen. But the biggest improvement on gameplay are the missions and tasks given to you that makes the repetivity of the last game. Their are more tasks for you to do and it is constantly varied. Main missions, side missions, collectibles, assassin tombs, and much more makes the gameplay unique and varied. Again, I do miss the way assassinations were handled in the first game, but I see the removal of that necessary to this game. Even small things like swimming, NPC interactions, thieves, improved eagle vision, enemy animations, and more are noticeably better.
Additions to the gameplay were made as well that made my experience only better. A new economy system inputted into the game meant you were earning money and purchasing it on weapons, armor, consumables, and much more. My personal favorite addition was your home base in Monteriggioni where you can spend money on upgrading the city with shops as well as showing you all of the collectibles you have collected. These and more are additions that made the game better.
Unfortunately, this game isn't without flaws. The biggest flaw I had with the game was that it felt too long. It wasn't the kind of long that I was happy with because it would keep me in the game longer. It was the kind of long that just kept dragging on and on. Their were parts particularly towards the end of the game that felt like unnecessary attachments. You finally get the piece of eden, but suddenly Forli is under attack so fight off the attackers, but one of the attackers stabs you and you drop the piece of eden, which is then picked up by some random corrupt priest. You then have to assassinate nine people to rile up the people to take down the corrupt priest so you can get the piece of eden back. Essentially, you are right back where you are and nothing significant to the story really happened. But other smaller issues also plagued the game. Whenever the camera locked for certain parkour missions, the controls wouldn't work so well, combat is still a bit too spammy, maps and menus ran terribly even though the rest of the game ran fine, symbols for actions were shown instead of the control keys, the controls are still the same as last time(though I am getting used to them and I don't have as big as an issue as last time), and pesky musicians take the role of the beggars and homeless from the first game, even though they can be easily dealt with by throwing money at them. No game is without flaws, but luckily the flaws of this game are few and far between.
Overall, I would say that AC2 is a strong title. It has a lot of improvements and even some welcome editions, a much better story and location, and more. The flaws I had with the game cannot nearly compare to positive experiences I had with the game. I feel that the first game was a strong concept, but its this game that takes that concept and turns it into an Assassin's Creed game. My prediction is that by the end of this, AC2 will be in my top three. And as of this writing, this game easily makes number one (well, the number one of two games so it isn't saying much right now). Thank you all for reading, and tune in next time for part three on Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.