Ezio can also use his hidden blade (or double blade) in combat, itís a fast weapon and it can pulverize most enemies as long as you can catch them in a good enough combo. Ezio will need all his fighting tricks since there are new enemy types to contend with. Brutes are massive armoured foes that take a lot to put down, unless you can quick-step around them and plant a blade in their back. Or you could disarm one and smash their weapon into their head. Seekers will check hiding-spots for Ezio and stab at haystacks. Runners will chase you down even across the rooftops and they can catch you up, since they are faster than Ezio.
Having a good knowledge of the combat system this time around helps a great deal and itís more rewarding, not just visually, but tactically.
Ezioís arsenal also includes numerous gadgets, crafted from ancient Assassinís secret texts, by his good friend: Leonardo Da Vinci. He is Ezioís Q or R akin to James Bond and he upgrades your arsenal throughout the game, from double hidden blades to poison delivery systems and more. All of this gives you a greater range of options to get your various targets. Do you toss down some coins to attract the crowds, slip through the mob and sneak up with a poison blade to assassinate your quarry or do you get up high and wait for the right moment to strike? Escaping ninja-style with a smoke bomb!
Ezioís assassination arsenal has been upgraded, you can do the air-assassination now just by being in the right place, pressing X when the option lights up on the HUD. You can kill from a hiding spot, from a hanging ledge and basically virtually anywhere that Ezio can get the drop on the guards from.
There are other moves, hidden treasures and so much more to unlock/find in Assassinís Creed 2. Money also plays a big part a little later in the game, when you gain the Assassinís Stronghold, whilst I wonít tell you what you can do there, itís a pretty big and important part of Ezioís life, with just as many secrets as Atair himself.
Tied into the achievement system of Assassinís Creed II is Ubisoftís beta of UPlay, this is an online service that will offer numerous rewards for completing the various challenges in the game. Right now, it serves AC2, Ruse and ConViction. Points are gained from performing in-game challenges (tied in to specific achievements) and they can be redeemed for things in Creed 2 or saved to unlock a new mp mode in ConViction. Time will tell if this service is successful but since Iíve unlocked a few UPlay points I can highly recommend the extra quest area for Creed 2.
Assassinís Creed 2 is bigger than the previous game as well, with no central hub area to travel through and lots of places to explore. Thereís also a fast-travel system later on that allows you to get to important locations quickly and safely.
Ezio can also swim and there are gondolas and boats to help navigate the water environments in the game, water can be used as a place to hide bodies too, since you can pick up enemy guards, weapons and so on now. So you can dump a body in a haystack or throw it in a canal, itís up to you.
As you visit important locations the Animus will tag them for a database that you can review at your leisure. Not only will it mark important sites it will also give you a little bit of history on each significant place, this means youíll pick up some facts from the 1400ís too, amongst all the brutal slaying. (the gore in the game is understated)Graphics
There are a few texture glitches Iíve seen in the game, but they have been few and far between. Mostly if youíre not looking for them, as I was, you wonít really spot them at all. Apart from that, the graphics are excellent with a superb job done on the texture and design for the characters and models. The real time day/night adds a new level of detail to Assassinís Creed 2 and impacts more than just the eye-candy; guards alter their shifts as the sun goes down, so itís best to plan accordingly. Renaissance Italy has been brought to life in stunning ways for the game and the architectural detail is simply stunning. From the highest view-point in Firenze to the waterways of Venice itself, the game is a beautiful one to behold.Animations
The animations in Assassinís Creed 2 are suitably improved over the first, subtle alterations to the free running and a larger array of combat moves for the combat are all tied in with little or no miss-timed frames or errors. Ezio comes into his own when brawling and later on when heís upgraded with new combat techniques, it transforms into a swashbuckling thrill-ride as you take on multiple foes using a variety of moves. Hand to hand disarms, using their weapon against them, fierce counters and all. Everything about the animation screams quality and itís hard to pick out a favourite, if I had to, then it would have to be the new double-blade attacks.