By Adam M. Cook
Game: Assassin’s Creed II
Release Date: Nov. 17, 2009
Developers: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
We have all wondered what it would be like to travel through time, but what about time traveling through the memory of one of your ancestors from five centuries ago? In this action-adventure/historical fiction/first-person game, you can experience such an unfathomable journey.
You find yourself in a land where religion and politics are blended into a society of betrayal and corruption. You are sent back to the Renaissance Era to stop a regime from taking control of Italy. I specifically chose the second Assassin’s Creed because it’s the installment in the series where I’ve had the most fun and is the most thrilling.
In “Assassin’s Creed II” players have the ability to scale tall buildings and master the technique of stealth. I would say this character is a cross between Robin Hood, Batman, and Zorro. The main thing that differentiates this character from them is that he kills. (To be fair, he kills murderers who are responsible for many unnecessary deaths.)
In present day, the main character, Desmond Miles, is part of an underground revolution alliance being hunted by a corporation known as Abstergo Industries. Desmond must go back in time to the Renaissance Era and put an end to the organization that birthed Abstergo Industries, the Knights Templar. Desmond travels time by means of a simulation machine that allows people to go back in time through the genetic memories of their ancestors. Once you travel back in time you take the form of Desmond’s ancestor, Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Ezio must strategically hunt down a number of important figures that are involved in deceiving and slaughtering innocent people. Because this game incorporates aspects of historical fiction, there are some notable appearances from historic characters like Leonardo da Vinci, who assists you in your quest by providing you with fascinating mechanisms. Continue on through the missions and upgrade weapons and armor along the journey.
In the game, you are trained to master short blades, hand-to-hand combat, sword-fighting, climbing, pick pocketing and more. There are around 200 missions and approximately half of them are primary (main) missions. When playing main missions, the mission objectives follow the main story of taking down the Knights Templar by performing different assassinations of those on the list of targets. Side missions involve extra tasks you can do when not working toward the main story, like tearing down “Wanted” posters, for example. This will decrease the Templar’s hostility towards Ezio. There are places on certain tall buildings that, when reached, show more of certain maps. When you get to these designated places and press the appropriate button (depending on the platform you’re playing on) that particular section of the map will be unlocked.
This is a game where you use acrobatics to climb buildings and dodge death. You’ll climb buildings faster than you thought humans could climb. In order to avoid falling, which can slow you down tremendously (and possibly cause you to fail the objective), it definitely helps to become accustomed to the controls. If you can manage the handling of the directional joystick and the tapping of the climb button you’ll move faster than a spider monkey! The game takes place in cities throughout Italy, like Venice, Florence, Forlì, San Gimignano and the Tuscan countryside. The graphics in this game are staggering. They are so clear and sharp that you might even find yourself distracted from your objectives. You can see the individual strings sway on a tattered banner, for example.
Ezio is equipped with a number of weapons and mechanical devices that are useful for combat as well as diversion tactics. Different blades are used for different situations. One deliciously clever and deadly weapon is the hidden blade which protrudes from Ezio’s sleeve. This is best used when trying to sneak up on a target. You also have room in your inventory for a sword. The sword is most appropriate when you are surrounded and trying to fend off enemies. Thanks to Leonardo da Vinci’s research of pages from Altaïr’s codex, Ezio can upgrade his weapons throughout his quest. (Altaïr was a legend among assassins in this game.) In addition to that there’s a selection of weapons like battle axes, daggers, a pistol, poison blades, smoke bombs and more.
Along the journey, you pick up tips on how to avoid getting attacked by guards. A good way to get around without enemies noticing you is by creating distractions. One good way to distract guards and soldiers is to throw money into the streets. This will attract a bunch of townspeople, giving you the chance to sneak behind guards as they break up the crowd. One of my favorite things to do in this game is completing the obstacle course-like objectives found in the deceased assassin tombs where you climb through a room of puzzling structures. Several dead, but idolized, assassins are laid to rest in tombs that each contain a seal. Collect all of these seals and achieve the Armor of Altaïr (the strongest and highest quality armor in the game).
The mixture of science-fiction, history and action in this game makes for an enticing adventure. Fight for the people and bring an end to the corruption!
There is so much more about this game I could get into, but after reading all this script, how about a break for your eyes with a visual aide? I’m going to save you hard-working, full-schedule Americans some time and let this video do the rest of the review for me: (**Viewer discretion is advised.**) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYgV0o3_T9Q