I was originally going to be very, very positive about Assassin’s Creed 2. I skipped the first game after hearing horror stories about how unrefined it was, but AC 2 is the real deal; a free-running game set in fifteenth century Italy with a heavy emphasis on open world gameplay and lots and lots of stabbing1. To begin with I was wowed by the sumptuous environments (more on that later) and the seeming ease of movement allowed by the free-running system. But AC 2 is one of those rare beasts; it’s a game that’s actually far too long for what it is. It’s not like they’ve stooped to the depths of Far Cry 2 in terms of recycling content – there’s four very meaty maps to explore plus a personal hideout town – yet if you stare at even the finest artwork for long enough you’ll start to notice the cracks in the paint. So it is with Assassin’s Creed 2.
- Although it was a very long time until I got to the stabbing part. The AC games have this weird overplot where you’re not actually playing assassins in various time periods, you’re playing a guy from the present reliving genetic memories of his assassin ancestors using magic pseudo-tech. I didn’t mind it too much since while the whole thing is preposterous conspiracy bollocks it’s entertaining preposterous conspiracy bollocks, but it was a little bit obnoxious at the start when I had to escape from a facility (no stabbing), meet some present-day assassins who would be acting as my support team (no stabbing), get plumbed into another “Animus” so that I could go play as Ezio (no stabbing), and then endure the world’s longest tutorial where Ezio does a million fetch quests for his family (some punching, no stabbing). It must have been a good hour into the game before I got to stab anyone. ↩