The blog's been on hiatus lately, and I'm sorry for that. Between the beginning of the semester wrap-up at school and Assassin's Creed II, I haven't had enough time to compose that previously promised Persona 3 themes post. Rest assured, it's still coming. I've been doing quite a bit of research on the Greek and Judeo-Christian myths that go along with the character's personas. I really want to knock that post out of the park.
Today, exactly 1 week after I started it, I finally finished Assassin's Creed II, with all 1000 achievement points. This is only the 4th game I've gone out of my way to accomplish this. This review will be spoiler free beyond talk of basic things like collectables.
This is my game of the year, hands down. I'm not afraid to say that. The changes they've made to the formula make this my favorite open world game up to this point. It's really quite astounding how some relatively minor changes in the gameplay can completely change a game from good to amazing.
I liked the first Assassin's Creed. It has it's flaws,but it was still a good game at the time. This game completely makes the first one irrelevant. I can't imagine going back to it at this point. The world feels so bland and empty compared to the vast, open and colorful vistas of Italy. They've even managed to improve the amazing crowd AI of the first game. These cities feel even more full of life.
The climbing and combat have even received some minor improvements. The combat is still rhythm and counter based, but it feels more fluid and violent than the first. You do have a few more options, but the only one I really used on a regular basis was the disarm move. I loved seeing enemies weapons taken from them and used against them. It's quite an awesome feeling. The dual blades and pistol are also great additions. Overall, if you didn't like the combat of the first, you still won't like it here. For those of us who did enjoy it, though, it's a nice twist on first.
The way the game tells its story has seen a substantial overhaul as well. Ezio is an actual character. He grows and develops. He's not just some static badass like Altair. The game takes it self much less serious as well, which is a nice change. It doesn't feel like it's trying to shove an overwrought, far too serious historical tale down your throat. It knows what it is and is happy to accept that. The game rarely pulls you out of the Animus, as well. This really helps the game tell a much more coherent story.
Perhaps the best improvement to the game is what they've done with the collectables. They actually have some purpose this time. The crypts are amazing. They help break up the pace and the armor they give you is well worth the effort. The glyphs are a nice touch, and what they add to the story is quite substantial. I quickly grew addicted to collecting all the paintings and renovating my Villa. The weakest collectable was the feathers. They aren't that horrible, but much more boring to track down than the other collectables. All this breaks up what could be a monotonous and repetitive experience.
Overall the game os just about perfect. I honestly have no major complaints. It seems Ubisoft actually looked at the criticism of the first game and fixed it this time around. I can't wait to see what they come up with for Assassin's Creed III. It's hard to imagine how they are going to improve on this one.