Developers always deserve kudos for listening to fans.
Ubisoft Montreal listened and learned from complaints when creating the sequel “Assassin’s Creed II.”
While the original was a better-than-average game that shined with its ambition rather than in execution, the sequel is a masterpiece for the Canadian gaming studio — it landed fourth on my best games of 2009 list behind “Uncharted 2,” “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Modern Warfare 2.”
The story is much more structured this time around, which is the biggest strength in my opinion. The game still features Desmond Miles as the man who has a pretty impressive bloodline of assassins in his background. Through some futuristic technology, Miles is able to access the memories and abilities of another ancestor, this time Italian assassin Ezio Auditore.
Ezio is a more dynamic character than his predecessor Altair.
The story focuses more sharply around the historical protagonist, while also giving a little more life for Miles, who served as a huge annoyance in the first game.
Even though his story was essential to the game’s canon, Miles’ appearances in the original served little more than a breakup in gameplay. They now are more, and he and the surrounding present-day cast serve a more meaningful purpose in terms of the story and in actual gameplay.
The developers give emotional depth to Auditore early in the game, and that really adds a dimension to the character that was missed the last time around.
The original game often fell into a system of repetitive missions and choices. Altair had little room to breathe as a character. This time around, the gamer is giving a multitude of optional missions and quests to go along with a richer storyline. The story continues along the battle of the assassins and the Knights Templar. This game really goes after the conspiracy angle. So if you like Dan Brown novels, then this game is for you.
It goes without saying that the developers did a phenomenal job recreating Florence, Vienna and parts of Tuscan countryside. That was never the problem in the original, where Jerusalem and Damascus of the 12th century were beautifully crafted.
One of the other high points of the sequel is a more advanced combat system and a customizable and upgradeable inventory.
But it’s the culmination of all aspects of the game that make it not only much better than the original, but also one of the best games of 2009.