Itís been a while coming and Ubisoft have said right from the start that they have listened to critique from both press and fans. Having spent quality time with Assassinís Creed 2 as of the 16/11/ I can say, yes they have and in spades. I want to stress this from the beginning, this game would not have been possible without Assassinís Creed but the sequel ups the ante in every way possible.Story
No spoilers youíll be glad to know, just how I like it. The game begins right where Assassinís Creed left off and youíre quickly brought up to speed if you havenít played the game and refreshed on the story if you have. Soon youíre back in Desmondís shoes and the adventure continues. And thatís all youíll get from me, as I said, spoilers. Suffice it to say that the story is extremely well told, interesting and provides several really good dramatic moments. There are slight quick-time events that can impact the story cut-scenes and they are little additions meant to enhance the scene or make certain things easier, if you miss one, itís not really game over.Gameplay
Set in Renaissance Italy during a tumultuous time in history, Creed 2 puts you firmly in the virtual shoes of Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, a young Florentine nobleman who has a cushy life of wine, women, song and more until something happens. Right from the start you can feel the improvements over Assassinís Creed, the free-running is more fluid and Ezio has a better grasp (literally) of the environment. The whole system has been tuned and there are numerous subtle changes to it. Ezio climbs faster and more accurately than Altair and itís needed since the enemies can navigate the environments just as quickly as you can.
Gone are the investigation missions that were so repetitious in the first game, replaced by a cohesive story-based questline and dozens of optional objectives such as exploring for hidden glyphs, solving interesting and varied logic puzzles and piecing together an ancient Assassin Order secret that could unlock the Truth about the world as we know it. Thereís literally almost too much to do here but it never becomes overwhelming and additionally thereís even a monetary economic system that allows you to purchase upgrade moves, armour and weapons for Ezio as you progress along the story.
The gameís balance is perfectly tuned as well, so things are tricky but never impossible and you can approach the various missions with a variety of different tactics. Money as previously mentioned plays a massive role in the game and there are numerous ways beyond upgrades that you can utilise the economic system in Creed 2. You can hire several factions to help you complete objectives, or provide a suitable distraction for the guards in the game.
Mercenaries: tough fighters, these are a walking army and will follow Ezio on the ground battling guards and providing backup.
Courtesans: ladies of the night, beautiful and distracting. They can be used to lure unsuspecting guards away from important objectives, money caches and even into traps. They can also act as a mobile group for blending in crowds.
Thieves: sneaky pick-pockets and light-fingered masters of the Taffer Arts (yes, I loved Thief: the Dark Project), they can follow Ezio as he free-runs and also provide a distraction luring guards away and across the rooftops.
Ezioís actions are measured by the guards and tracked with a notoriety meter; high profile moves around the various cities will attract attention. If you murder a guard or a group of guards around the city, youíre going to become more noticeable and when youíre no longer anonymous, guards will react to the slightest move, even going so far as to become alert when youíre around. To remove your GTA-style wanted level, you can kill officials, bribe heralds and even tear down posters around the city with your name and likeness on.
Ezio can learn how to blend in, rather than holding down A and walking around like a monk, you must actually use the crowds, benches or groups to move unseen when youíre approaching a target or shadowing someone. Moving at the same pace as a group of people makes you invisible to guards and suspicious characters. Itís possible with skill to be able to move almost unseen through the streets, even when in a restricted zone or when the guards are on high alert.
Combat has been upgraded as well, Ezio has a wide array of moves at his disposal and even more can be bought from the Fight Trainer later on. Advanced moves are the key to success in the game and these hidden techniques transform the combat in Assassinís Creed II into a swashbuckling and visceral experience. The counter kill, dodge and other moves are now easier to perform and additionally to this Ezio can disarm his enemies, take their weapons and use them in some pretty stylish one-shot kills if you can get the timing down right.