Assassin's Creed II - Xbox 360

Game Description: Desmond returns to the Animus memory table and revisits the story of another assassin ancestor, Ezio. Assassin's Creed II takes place in Venice, Italy during the time of the Italian Renaissance, and features gameplay involving Leonard Da Vinci's inventions, boats in the city's famed canals, and more elaborate assassinations.
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Assassin's Creed II Hands-On Preview

Assassin's Creed II Hands-On Preview

By Morgan Webb - Posted Oct 21, 2009

Assassin's Creed II

We’ve Been Here Before

If you completed the first Assassin's Creed, the beginning of Assassin's Creed II will seem quite familiar. Modern-day Desmond Miles is still imprisoned in an office building decorated with all the appeal of a concrete bunker, waiting, it is presumed, for another go-round with the Animus: a La-Z-Boy that allows the recumbent subject to re-live his “genetic memory.” Desmond’s genetic memory was laid down by ancestors with exciting lives of international intrigue and duplicity. My genetic memory was probably made up of uneducated serfs and poor farmers, which is why Desmond is such a valuable property.

Get Up, Desmond! All You Do is Lay Around…

Our poor imprisoned Desmond hasn’t gotten to do much more than traipse between the Animus and his bed, having all his fun while mentally plugged into one of his ancestors. This time Desmond actually breaks free, and has an opportunity to see what is behind those concrete walls that kept him penned in so long…

Spoiler Alert!

It’s more concrete. But Desmond does manage to escape the facility, and agrees to help an old friend by once again hopping into the Animus. The theory goes that real-life Desmond will be able to gain the abilities of his ancestors if he uses his genetic memory to learn the skills along with them. So with the looming promise of being a real-life bad-ass, a free Desmond chooses to enter the Animus again. You can’t help but wonder if we will get to have some fun with modern day Desmond pulling off the tricks of his ancestors.

Assassin's Creed II

Desmond (And Civilization) is Reborn!

While the first game took place during the time of the Crusades, this time it’s the Renaissance, and while there’s still no penicillin, life has certainly improved. Ezio is the son of a rich nobleman, and most of his attention is wasted on the exploits of young men with too much money and too little responsibility: booze, boobs and brawls. Everything changes one day when his family is double crossed, and he dons the assassin’s hood to get his revenge. While Altair from the first Assassin's Creed always seemed a bit of a cipher, Ezio feels like a living breathing human you relate to immediately. He doesn’t start out as an assassin, he becomes one because of the hand that life has dealt him, and you are happy to follow him on this 30-year journey.

I Left My Heart in Firenze

While the Crusade cities were amazing to experience in Assassin's Creed, the maps in ACII seem nearly perfect. Florence’s narrow streets and hidden courtyards are perfect for aerial assassinations. The hodgepodge of brick and stone buildings just cry out to be climbed, and the free running is smooth and exceptionally satisfying. The dome of the Duomo and its accompanying clock tower are perfect vantage points for a little sightseeing. Venice’s canals are a welcome reprieve when the only way to escape involves getting your feet wet. I just hope my sword doesn’t get too rusty.

Speaking of Swords (heh)…

You get a little help from some lusty ladies of the evening, as you are able to use them as a bit of mobile cover. No one is looking at the hooded man with the rusty sword when he’s surrounded by a bunch of unmarriageable young women. The lusty ladies also teach you a little something about pick-pocketing, which is easier in ACII than it was in the first game. It’s so easy, in fact, that it’s tempting to pick every pocket you see, until you realize that people notice the transgression rather quickly -- hasty retreats are advisable.

Assassin's Creed II

Pick a Professional Pick-Pocket

Courtesans aren’t the only place to get a little help in ACII. You can hire thieves to pick guard’s pockets and lead them away from their posts on a futile chase, or you can hire mercenaries to fight some of your battles for you. Assassin's Creed is an open world game where you can approach an assassination from a number of different vantage points, and the ability to hire a variety of help allows for even more strategy.

Massive Attacks

You pick up missions more organically than you did in the first game, as they are scattered around the world MMO-style -- you even locate them by looking for the exclamation points on your mini-map. There are a number of hidden items around the world, some secret areas to find and explore, and glyphs to locate and decipher. Finding some items will give you more background on the story, while others have currently unknown rewards. There are, however, no flags (try not to be too disappointed). You also have a base of operations, a family Tuscan Villa that is waiting for your love and attention. You can decorate it with famous paintings of the era, stock it with weapons and armor, and even use it to create a local economy that provides you with income. Investing in your home is an investment in yourself, as you can use your extra income to purchase skills, weapons, and armor. You aren’t stuck with one path either, different purchases, such as investing in light instead of heavy weaponry, can create a very different type of assassin.

Assassin's Creed II

The Final Tally

Assassin's Creed was known for the free running, and ACII does not disappoint. Hundreds of no doubt tiny tweaks to the climbing mechanic make controlling Ezio a breeze, and you feel his motions are natural and possible, even when he is scaling the dome of a church. The developers set out to make combat feel as organic as the free running and they have made many noticeable improvements, such as dual-blade aerial assassinations and assassinations from cover. All in all, if you loved Assassin's Creed, then you must keep it locked here for more information and our full review.

Comments are Closed

  • codypluck11994

    soooooooooooooooooooo cooooooooooooooooooool huge fan

    Posted: November 10, 2009 10:04 AM
  • bullzeye14

    i cant wait for mw2 ac2 ive barley played uncharted 2 but i cant wait 2 play it again, any way i would love to see a game thats kind of like a cross between modern warfare and halo 3 and it would have to have an amazing online multiplayer and graphics

    Posted: November 4, 2009 9:33 AM
  • sadmoo

    assassins creed2 looks like game of the year for me,who agrees?,cant wait to play it.and desmond is finally makin a move to escape, dat makes way for ac3,which i hope is set in feudal japan,that was an epic time period too...

    Posted: October 28, 2009 7:06 PM

    im sry i just realized that u have to click on which system u want it only starts of in the xbox section cough cough like always mix it up g4 when i click on AC send me to the PC section or ps3 section but w.e not being a fanboy i love both ps3 and xbox

    Posted: October 26, 2009 9:33 PM

    this game is going to be great i loved the first one even though u did the same thing for just about every mission i had no problem with that. also is it just me or whenever a game comes out for more then just one platform they always seem to do an xbox review. dont get me wrong but i love my xbox and ps3 but i think u should have a review for both or at least put the review in both the ps3 and xbox section?

    Posted: October 26, 2009 9:08 PM
  • bird446

    i preordered this game 2 months ago and have it marked on my calender I NEED IT

    Posted: October 26, 2009 8:47 PM
  • emerson34

    this game is going to be cool

    Posted: October 26, 2009 7:29 PM
  • Shinjiro

    The first game was awsome and the story was great wont be surprised if this one will be better or just as good

    Posted: October 26, 2009 4:57 PM
  • samiam0605

    Wow I think I'm buying this game. I have yet to hear anything about it that does not make it sound great and better than the first, which I loved.

    Posted: October 26, 2009 1:23 PM
  • DragonRider6

    still think they need a skill tree like so u can be specialized in certain areas like free-running, pick-pocketing, weapons, or just be a hulking juggernaut!

    Posted: October 25, 2009 3:23 PM
  • SithParman

    ACII will an amazing game I can't wait. I will have to break out the monster for some all nighters on the release date.

    Posted: October 25, 2009 1:32 PM
  • alexwb

    Third Assassin's Creed should be feudal japan, not sure if it works in the time sequence, but that would be f*ing awesome, to have Desmond be a ninja

    Posted: October 25, 2009 12:47 PM
  • rogueassassin14

    as epic and amazing as this game sounds...the thing that killed excitement for me in AC1 was the fact that you could not stealth kill any of the main targets...i would plan out an attack and sneak in...then it would be ruined...i REALLY hope that you can stealth kill your main targets in this game and plan an attack and escape. youre an ASSASSIN that means you get in, get out w/o being seen...i really hope that you are able to stealth kill...then this game will be AMAZING

    Posted: October 24, 2009 7:10 PM
  • badgarok725

    the deal with desmond sounds pretty awesome. Basically, they didn't need to do anything except make a new story and i would have eaten this game up. Thinking of buying the first game again just to play through it

    Posted: October 24, 2009 10:46 AM
  • 1Pgamer

    Spoiler Alert (AcIII):

    For anyone wondering where the ACIII game is going to take place today on G4 they had interveiw on it and ACIII is already being planned out and the developers have decided that ACIII may take place somewhere in WWII just to let everyone know about that.

    Posted: October 24, 2009 8:58 AM
  • Titanbronco

    Why is everyone saying that AC3 should be in modern times? There is still the age of exploration and even the industrial revolution. Heck, you can probably even go back farther. How about Rome or ancient Greece (AC2 you learn to kick butt, AC3 you learn the art of politics. lol ). There are so many places the next AC can be in besides modern times. I will say this, you know the series will be in trouble if they try to do a futuristic AC.

    Posted: October 24, 2009 6:06 AM
  • GamingSaint

    Hopefully Assassins creed 2 is going to be as DUM RAW as the first one. What am thinking of course it is

    Posted: October 23, 2009 11:27 PM
  • networksony

    why are names in red But whatever cant wait and forget mw2 i dont see whats so good about mw but i cant wait foor badcompany 2 it will be epic

    Posted: October 23, 2009 8:25 PM
  • escherfied

    I can't get excited about this game right now. Modern warfare 2 and left 4 dead 2 have filled up my excitement meter. However, once i start playing i know that i will enjoy the game.

    Posted: October 23, 2009 6:50 PM
  • gl3bm

    The third one u should be desmond

    Posted: October 23, 2009 5:49 PM