Assassin’s Creed 2, the second instalment of the series was released on November 2009. It continues the story of Desmond Miles as he becomes more and more important to the plot. This time we’re out of the bleakness of the 12th century Middle East and into the swinging renaissance. Introducing Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, teen heartthrob born and raised in Italy, and this time you can swim. I’ve already done the whole intro spiel in the last analysis so let’s just get this bread.
Assassin’s Creed 2 Story
Assassin’s Creed 2 gets straight into the action from the very start. It begins with Desmond breaking out of Abstergo with the help of Lucy before she bursts into the lab covered in blood with alarms blaring behind her. She tells you to get on the animus and you witness the birth of Ezio, then you fight your way down Abstergo past numerous Animus…es. Animi? I feel like that was addressed in the game. Hold on. *Aggressively Googles plural of Animus*. It’s Animi. You get on a truck and you are whisked away to an assassin stronghold.
Back into the Animus
Basically, Desmond is being strapped back into the animus to live out the life of Ezio to fast track his assassin training which I have some gripes with but that’s for another time. Ezio’s family gets betrayed by a mysterious robed man because he’s a templar and Ezio’s dad is/was an assassin. Ezio sneaks into prison to visit his dad. He tells Ezio to open his bookcase, put the clothes on, and take the documents to a man. So he does all of that. He also takes a broken hidden blade to a family friend, Leonardo Davinci, which sets a precedent for all games to have a famous and easily recognisable historical figure inexplicably be involved with the main character of the games.
And then…we get a deeply unsettling scene. Ezio’s father, older brother, and preteen younger brother get hanged as traitors. Off to a good start. Ezio manages to escape with his catatonic mother and younger sister to their uncle Mario and his run-down estate.
Ezio is told he needs to become an assassin to set things right and he reluctantly works towards being a master assassin. Along the way of assassinating targets and reinstating the Auditore name, he gets tasked by current Mentor to the Italian Assassins, Niccolo Machiavelli, to recruit a thief called La Vulpe, a big muscle man married to his sword named Bartolomeo d’Alviano, and a brothel running nun named Paola. The thief is representative of the thieves guild that will distract guards by picking their pockets, the muscle man represents the mercenary guild which will fight alongside you, and finally, the nun represents the courtesan guild who will distract the guards with kind words. All these cost a small amount of money.
As you kill your targets you get similar cutscenes as in the first game that all serve to push Ezio further into the doctrine of the Assassins. He offers a direct juxtaposition to Altair, where all Altair’s targets pushed doubt into his mind, Ezio’s make him more resolute in his beliefs.
As the story goes on we learn that the man behind the betrayal of Ezio’s family is none other than Rodrigo Borgia, the Grandmaster of the Templars and soon to be pope. Ezio is on his way to get revenge, he’s taken all the steps, worked his way up, Rodrigo is right in front of him. And then he walks away.
Ezio goes with all his Assassin allies to a tower and gets anointed the title of Mentor to the Assassins, thereby taking Machiavelli’s place.
The next move is to storm the Vatican. Rodrigo is there and using the Piece of Eden to access an ancient vault beneath the Vatican, Ezio busts in and stops Rodrigo. He manages to get away to provide some very red sequel bait, but that’s not important. A glowing figure appears before Ezio and talks of an age long gone, of sacrifices made and the harrowing future ahead for humanity. Then it addresses Desmond directly. Not Ezio, Desmond. It’s a brief glimpse into a much bigger story than any the Assassin’s lived.
Now onto the gameplay.
Assassin’s Creed 2 combat is the same. Press a button to counter and deal massive damage. Although, there is more variety in the weapons. The swords behave the same, the daggers feel faster and deal less damage per hit, there is now heavy weapons which attack a lot slower and hit harder. You can now use the hidden blade (of which you have two now) to fight. I defaulted to using this because the counters were faster with the hidden blades.
Parkour is a little better, you can jump up while climbing to add to the vertical mobility. There are lanterns on the corners of buildings you can swing on to keep your momentum and change direction, and you can eject backwards. It’s still pretty janky. The jumping still results in some wall twerking and backwards ejecting is unpredictable at best, sometimes you go where you think you’re going to go, other times you launch yourself in the wrong direction.
There’s swimming now, so if you accidentally fall in the water you don’t immediately die like a certain 12th century Assassin. You can ride gondolas around the canals of Italy and Desmond can do more than just walk, now he can do what Ezio can do.
There’s now an economy in Assassin’s Creed 2. You receive money for doing missions and assassinating targets which you can use to buy armour, weapons, resources, and renovations for the Auditore estate. There are chests around the cities which you can buy maps for (I bought all the maps and got all the chests, it’s not worth it but it is fun). You also get money as income from the estate.
There are collectable feathers dotted around the cities, paintings to buy, and upgrades to buy. Throughout the cities, there are codex pages you have to collect to finish the game. To use them you have to take them to Leonardo to get them translated. Every few they will get translated into a fancy new upgrade for the hidden blade such as a poison blade, more damage, and a gun. That’s right, Assassin’s Creed is now a third-person shooter! Well, it isn’t by nature, but it will come to have more of a focus on shooting mechanics alongside their melee mechanics. Alongside the codex pages, are assassin tombs. There are not many but they all offer a nice little parkour challenge and at the end, you get a seal for the tomb of Altair.
Lastly, there are glyphs around the maps. They are hidden and take a bit of searching to find, and when you do find them it’s a good time. Each glyph was left behind by Subject 16 who we learn was lost to the animus. Subject 16 has left glyphs behind with puzzles in them to unlock a secret cutscene which I’m not spoiling here. I implore you to do it yourself, the puzzles are fun and engaging, and the cutscene is short but gives just enough information but also leaves you craving more.
Assassin’s Creed 2’s point is all it’s new gameplay elements, to solidify Assassin’s Creed as a game series and not just an interactive story. By adding in an economy, collectibles, player choice in weaponry and armour, a base that can be invested in, side quests, and guilds, it’s now a complete game. A game with things to do, fun things at that.
Assassin’s Creed 2 is riveting, introducing some new features which make it more entertaining. The colours are bright and warm, and the game feels comprehensive in comparison to the first game. I put it at 4/11, it’s a definite step up from the first game, I recommend you pick yourself up a copy, it’s pretty cheap on the Uplay store or Steam and you’ll have a good time.