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In-Depth With The New, Improved Assassin's Creed II

Ubi Montreal is working to address all of the issues people had with its first, ambitious open-world stealth game.

New era, new assassin.
This was an E3 of great-looking sequels, and one of my top entries in the most-improved category was Assassin's Creed II. The first game didn't have a lot of things wrong with it to begin with, but the team at Ubisoft Montreal has clearly been working hard the last two years to make sure this sequel realizes a lot more of the series' great potential.

Though Ubi wasn't showing more of the game at E3 than what we saw at the Sony press conference earlier in the week, it was definitely talking more details. Most importantly, it sounds like the general flow of the gameplay has been streamlined and varied, addressing the biggest complaint about the first game (its lack of variety). The assassinations can now take place anywhere within the game world, rather than being keyed to specific locations, and you won't have to go through the dry investigation process to collect evidence prior to every kill this time around. There are also said to be quite a few more types of side missions than in the first game.

The team is also adding more depth to the combat, which looked really stylish in the original game but usually degenerated into a rote chain of parries and one-hit instant kills. There are now several types of enemies that use different combat techniques and have different degrees of armor, so you'll have to vary your tactics depending on who you're facing. You can disarm some enemies and use their weapons against them--I saw new assassin Ezio grab a large axe from one foe and bury it right in the guy's face. (You can then pick these weapons back up and keep using them.) An Ubi rep said the game will have four times more fighting animations than the first one, which ought to give you an idea of the combat's expanded scope.

Assassin's Creed II looks downright beautiful. The game's rendition of renaissance Venice is so expansive and detailed it almost takes on a painterly quality, and up close the crowds of people look more varied and lively than they did in the Middle East of the first game. It's no surprise that a new game would look markedly better two years after its predecessor came out, but this one is really something to behold when you see it in motion.

Expect more combat variety this time.
Ubi has confirmed that Ezio is part of the same bloodline as the first game's Altair and their present-day descendant, Desmond Miles, whose memories you're reliving via the Animus machine. But I was surprised to find out Ezio isn't another master assassin with a guild of fellow killers behind him, like Altair was. Instead, he's a young nobleman who suffers some kind of personal tragedy at the hands of some very bad people. That's what inspires him to take up the hidden blade and seek vengeance, and in lieu of a network of assassins supporting him, he'll have... Leonardo Da Vinci. Probably not a bad trade. Ubi likens Da Vinci in this game to James Bond's Q, a wise old character who provides Ezio with training and equipment that will help him carry out his quest.

There's a laundry list of minor gameplay improvements and additions that look like they'll make Assassin's Creed II play better than before. Ezio has two hidden blades instead of one, so you can perform a double kill in some situations. You can now do a climb-leap move that lets you scale building faces more quickly than before. You can blend in with almost any crowd now, rather than just the sporadic groups of monks in the first game.

I could go on, but the point is, anyone who already enjoyed Assassin's Creed the first time around is going to find a lot to like about this sequel--and if Ubi makes good on its promises, I think there's a decent chance that anyone who had issues with it may find their issues addressed the second time around.

  


Brad Shoemaker on Google+
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Posted by Brad
New era, new assassin.
This was an E3 of great-looking sequels, and one of my top entries in the most-improved category was Assassin's Creed II. The first game didn't have a lot of things wrong with it to begin with, but the team at Ubisoft Montreal has clearly been working hard the last two years to make sure this sequel realizes a lot more of the series' great potential.

Though Ubi wasn't showing more of the game at E3 than what we saw at the Sony press conference earlier in the week, it was definitely talking more details. Most importantly, it sounds like the general flow of the gameplay has been streamlined and varied, addressing the biggest complaint about the first game (its lack of variety). The assassinations can now take place anywhere within the game world, rather than being keyed to specific locations, and you won't have to go through the dry investigation process to collect evidence prior to every kill this time around. There are also said to be quite a few more types of side missions than in the first game.

The team is also adding more depth to the combat, which looked really stylish in the original game but usually degenerated into a rote chain of parries and one-hit instant kills. There are now several types of enemies that use different combat techniques and have different degrees of armor, so you'll have to vary your tactics depending on who you're facing. You can disarm some enemies and use their weapons against them--I saw new assassin Ezio grab a large axe from one foe and bury it right in the guy's face. (You can then pick these weapons back up and keep using them.) An Ubi rep said the game will have four times more fighting animations than the first one, which ought to give you an idea of the combat's expanded scope.

Assassin's Creed II looks downright beautiful. The game's rendition of renaissance Venice is so expansive and detailed it almost takes on a painterly quality, and up close the crowds of people look more varied and lively than they did in the Middle East of the first game. It's no surprise that a new game would look markedly better two years after its predecessor came out, but this one is really something to behold when you see it in motion.

Expect more combat variety this time.
Ubi has confirmed that Ezio is part of the same bloodline as the first game's Altair and their present-day descendant, Desmond Miles, whose memories you're reliving via the Animus machine. But I was surprised to find out Ezio isn't another master assassin with a guild of fellow killers behind him, like Altair was. Instead, he's a young nobleman who suffers some kind of personal tragedy at the hands of some very bad people. That's what inspires him to take up the hidden blade and seek vengeance, and in lieu of a network of assassins supporting him, he'll have... Leonardo Da Vinci. Probably not a bad trade. Ubi likens Da Vinci in this game to James Bond's Q, a wise old character who provides Ezio with training and equipment that will help him carry out his quest.

There's a laundry list of minor gameplay improvements and additions that look like they'll make Assassin's Creed II play better than before. Ezio has two hidden blades instead of one, so you can perform a double kill in some situations. You can now do a climb-leap move that lets you scale building faces more quickly than before. You can blend in with almost any crowd now, rather than just the sporadic groups of monks in the first game.

I could go on, but the point is, anyone who already enjoyed Assassin's Creed the first time around is going to find a lot to like about this sequel--and if Ubi makes good on its promises, I think there's a decent chance that anyone who had issues with it may find their issues addressed the second time around.

  


Posted by DukesT3

sweet. 

Posted by Kronom

It seems that they're correcting mistakes that they did in the past. Awesome.

Posted by punkxblaze

So, in essense, Ezio is 15th century Batman.

Sounds good to me!

Posted by cstrang

I'm actually really, really excited about this.  I liked the first AC, but this seems to be leaps and bounds better.

Posted by Agnogenic_delete

I like the time period setting a lot more. :)

Posted by TwoOneFive

damn look at Brad back from E3 layin down article after article. good stuff dude. 

Posted by Reuben
@Agnogenic said:
" I like the time period setting a lot more. :) "
Yeah, me too. I can't wait for this game!
Posted by Jiggah

Man, I just bought the first one because of the Steam deal.  I got to say all the complaints about it are extremely valid.  There is so much potential there for a truly awesome game.  It looks like AC2 address all those issues, especially swimming...

I'm hoping that with the inclusion of swimming, we'll get the ability to do some stealth kills in water like grabbing a guy off a pier or tackling a dude into the water to kill him by drowning or something else.

Posted by Azteck

Loving the first one as we speak... losing my mind not being able to play this game. :'(

Posted by Kilzombie

Looks awesome, I can't wait! =D

Posted by SuperJoe

I hope Leonardo Da Vinci is voiced by TMNT Leonardo (aka Liquid Snake aka He-Man).

Posted by Sweep

no flags please, Ubisoft

Moderator
Posted by addictedtopinescent
@punkxblaze said:
" So, in essense, Ezio is 15th century Batman.Sounds good to me! "
This guy said it all, 
fuck yeah !
Posted by mrbasehart

It sounds pretty cool.  Does it have the open-world feel to it that the last one had?

Posted by Gizmo

I'm highly anticipating ASII, the flying machine looks slightly OTT but maybe OTT is exactly what the first needed?

Posted by MordeaniisChaos

Anyone else notice him sticking pole-axes straigth through dudes? That would be bad ass if it had at least BLOOD, but I think gore is the only way to make that not just stupid. You cannot do that with an effing axe, they are not designed to be thrust through a guy till the entire blade of the axe is out the other side! They have a pointy thing that you use, but thats all that should be able to go through them.

Posted by Gorillawhat

People who said that the first game was too repetitive are the kind of people who complain that the Godfather was to long a movie.

I'm looking forward to AC2, I thought the story of the first game was sort of comic book fun, and I'll be happy for more.
Posted by MeatSim

This is looking to be a much better game then the first even though their only making minor improvements, but it sounds like they addressed all the problems of the first game which was what really was holding down the first game.

Posted by Manks

I enjoyed the first and it looks like ACII is very much improved.  I'll be getting this, no doubt.

Posted by PenguinDust

I was planning on skipping this title before E3 but now it's high on my list of "must haves." I was really impressed by what I saw and have read about the new direction this growing franchise has made.  The city of Venice just looks much more interesting to me than dry dusty Jerusalem.  And Da Vinci... I wonder if we'll meet Mona or discover the secrets of his codes.

Posted by Jayzilla

That's great to hear that they are addressing all of the things that we all found wrong with the first game. **SPOILER** It's still my opinion that it would have been cooler for the game to be set in Desmond's time, with us playing as him as he is being trained by the assassins that rescued him at the end of the first game. After all, he only had the "vision" and no other skills yet. Would have loved to play this game in a modern setting. Well here's hoping that happens in AC3!! Great read Brad.

Posted by Puppy

They got rid of the investigations? I don't think that is what fans were asking for; rather, it was for more involved and varied investigations...or did I get that wrong? Also, my biggest gripe with the original was how much fricken health Altair has. You could fall from great heights and survive, which stripped aspect of danger from climbing and leaping. Additionally, combat was made too easy. The pace of the combat and the mechanics of it all were amazing, but enemies did so little damage that you could take on 50 guards at once and not break a sweat - I did it. And what this did was rid the player of an incentive to keep it on the DL and to take advantage of the robust system allowing you to evade your pursuers. Why run when you can fight?

Being able to combat your enemies is one thing, being able to combat all of your enemies is just overkill (no pun intended.)

Posted by Puppy
@punkxblaze said:
" So, in essense, Ezio is 15th century Batman.Sounds good to me! "

Sans melodramatic voice work = +1 Ubisoft & a cookie.
Posted by killdave

Im still very "meh" about the game. Not sure if I can be bothered with doing the same things as I did in AC1 over and over and over again, again.
Demos and vids I've seen just show the same stuff, abit more remixed.

Who knows. I'll certainly wait for a review and READ it (not just look at some AC fanboy score) before purchasing

Posted by Death_Unicorn

I r get this.

Posted by RedSox8933

Ubi said that there would also be an economic system this game, and that you will be able to buy upgrades for your weapons from da Vinci.

Posted by Origina1Penguin

This is a must buy for me.  I'm a big fan of the original and the improvements I've learned about so far are just what I wanted.  It almost makes me want to go back to the first game and hunt for more flags.  Maybe?

Edited by Kojacked

I think one of the main problems with the first one was that each area looked exactly the same to me and I do not know if this issue is going to be addressed in Creed 2. Still I'm loving the slight stylistic changes they are making especially in regard to the combat. One of other thing that makes me more hopeful is that they seem more focused on telling a narrative within the animus instead of being all about Desmond.

Also hope they keep the interesting targets for you to assassinate, the mission in the first creed game where you had to kill a doctor was one of my favorite morally ambiguous moments in a game ever.   Was he experimenting on them or was he just trying to help?

Posted by chapman12

cant wait im gona get this and bioshock 2 for christmas (as for halo3 odst and cod mw2 i cant wait for those)

Posted by natetodamax

Damn, so many great games coming out.

Posted by Trilogy

Always a good sign when developer realizes what they did wrong the first time.

Posted by Kazona

Good to know they're making all those improvements to the game. I really loved the first one despite the annoying investigation missions, so with all the improvements Ubisoft is making to the sequel I think this one is going to totally nail it.

Posted by Adamantium

Good stuff. Too many devs that make a successful original game just turn into one-trick-pony franchises pumping out sequel after sequel of basically the same stuff. Nice to see a good game that actually gets improved upon for the sequel.

Kudos to Ubisoft if this game improves on the repetitiveness that set in near the end of AC1. I'll definitely give it a go.

Posted by John1912

Looks pretty impressive.  Had great atmosphere with the fireworks going off all over.  Hope it is a big update.  Sick of rehashed sequals like Halo.

Posted by GioVANNI
@John1912 said:
" Looks pretty impressive.  Had great atmosphere with the fireworks going off all over.  Hope it is a big update.  Sick of rehashed sequals like Halo. "
>.>
Posted by CL60

Can't wait! Although I preferred the setting in the first one, this one will most likely be better.

Posted by Obienator

I love how the crowd went "OH SNAP" when he used the double blade...badass.

Posted by Kohe321

The E3 demo was fantastic, I am really looking forward to this game!

Posted by ElectricHaggis

The improvements sound like exactly what was needed.  My only two problems with the original were the lack of mission variety and the insultingly simplistic combat.

Posted by DCFGS3

Looks good, although I didn't really enjoy the first one, it did look very pretty. Anyway, ten bucks says the next one will be set in pre-WWI London or WWII Occupied Paris (Saboteur anyone?)

Edited by Duckbutter
@DCFGS3:

thats a bet friend-brother and you better pay up if you lose. just mail it to me. my address is 1635 Falcon st. Long Beach CA 90802. my phone number is 562-863-3783 if you have futrther questions on how to get me the money. now gimmie your address.
i guess it takes alot for new motion capture but i wish they could change up Ezio's movement style a bit. he walks, climbs, lunges does everything exactly like Altair did in part 1. maybe because the same future Desmond guy is supossed to be controlling him? could be. could be.
Posted by theMcNasty

Cool.  I was hoping this series would start filling its potential more this time around.

Posted by agentboolen

Yea part 2 looks really cool.  I didn't think part 1 was that bad, I enjoyed running around being a bad ass.  I know some said it got boring but for me it just felt good.

Posted by shroom

if the controls are the same it will just get boring again the first one's controls were simply to simple

Posted by Venatio

I loved the first game, so its not surprising that I cant fucking wait for the sequel

Posted by CL60
@shroom said:
" if the controls are the same it will just get boring again the first one's controls were simply to simple "
The reason it got boring was because of the repetitive missions...the controls were fine..
Posted by Alphazero

The sequel to my only S-Rank. I'll be playing this game.

Posted by thefiretemple

This game is sounding better and better.

Posted by Media_Master

As long as they make it much more interesting and not a lame ending

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