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Assassin’s Creed 2: Final Smack

Assassin’s Creed 2 is a pretty good sandbox kind of game with pretty good gameplay as a whole. More accurately, it’s some very fun gameplay with some tedious stuff and some downright bad decisions. It’s a mixed bag, but the good stuff (the art of the cities, the Ezio character, the assassinating) is quite good, and I did enjoy the game overall. More info (and some significant spoilers in the comments — don’t read them if you’re still playing) below.


  • The game is beautiful. I mean beautiful. You will feel like you are running around the old cities of Italia. In fact, the immersion of everything about Ezio’s story is well done, and I have never liked a game setting this much before. I really can’t praise it enough.
  • Assassinating is very fun. It’s nice to sneak up on people and take them out. The parkour elements are great, and running from guards in the early game is this great mix of GTA and Prince of Persia. This is also kept very fresh throughout with some nice set pieces.
  • Ezio is a very good character. You believe him and sympathize with him all the way through.  The game also does a very good job establishing your targets as sleaze and giving secondary characters actual personalities.
  • Fighting is okay. It gets a little repetitive, but if you have a variety of enemies, it can be a bit strategic.
  • The open world here actually does work. You really do feel like you can go where you want to. The secondary quests help reinforce that there’s more in the world for you to find.


  • Fighting in the late game gets easy and it over-relies on countering moves. It would be nice if there was a bit more skill to combat.
  • Everything in the frame tale of the present sucks. Desmond is a boring cipher, and the plot there makes no sense at all. It’s thankful that this is such a small part of the game, but AC2 would have been much better if it had simply been Ezio’s story.
  • There are too many achievement systems in this game and the payoff for them does not make up for the effort they cost. In particular, the glyph puzzles are horrible: unbalanced, confusing, unfunny, and with no valuable reward.  If you play this game, just ignore them entirely.
  • On a similar note, you have too much money. It’s nice that I get rewarded a lot for the good I do, but I literally was trying to find things to do with my cash by the end of the game.
  • I just cannot get over the idea that assassins are supposed to be good guys. It just makes no sense at all. Killing people from the shadows is not heroic. The game needs to revisit how it approaches morality in general to be taken seriously.


I enjoy AC2. There were problems, and the achievements are a complete waste of time, but Ezio is cool, assassinating is cool, and you don’t have a heart if you don’t get some simple sense of joy from running around the gorgeously done streets of Firenze. This is at least a rental for sure, and if you like Prince of Persia, just do yourself a favor and buy it. The game is a good piece of work, and despite its flaws, the core game will give you many hours of enjoyment.

Posted in Hardcore, Reviews.

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5 Responses

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  1. Naomi says

    Oddly, AC2 is the first game I’ve ever had a perfect 1000/1000 Gamerscore on. In other words, I did everything. That said, I actually agree that there are too many achievement systems and goofy things to collect. For some reason, I collected all of them anyway, so many I’m just denying what apparently works for my psychology.

    I agree with all of your points actually — the money was ridiculous, the glyph puzzles are horrible and the frame story is just kind of boring, including the conspiracy “story” in the puzzles, which just feels trite. The sci-fi twist ending with the greek god / holographic recording was sort of cool, I guess, but all the stuff about Ghandi and Nikola Tesla and Hitler… yaaawwwn. It’s also too bad about the Assassins = Good thing, because I COULD have bought that if they had explained it a little better. I guess it’s supposed to deal in part with choices that Altair makes after the first Assassin’s Creed, but it could have been mentioned and rationalized much more. There’s a weird (and somewhat nonsensical) tension the entire game between the player (and Desmond) knowing that Ezio is an Assassin and what the whole big deal is about, and Ezio running around assassinating for years without really being clued into the grand plot. Until that ludicrous scene at the end where it turns out OMG EVERYONE IS ASSASSINS LET’S JUMP OFF A TOWER TOGETHER.

  2. Douglas Yee says

    I would say your Cons #2 and #5 tie closely into my earlier assertation “you need to play AC1 to get this game.”

    I think some of the moral issues are explored in more detail in the original game. Your assassin there, Altair, learns each Templar he kills feels totally justified for the evil they are doing, and each gives a seemingly rational explanation for why they are lying, cheating, stealing, murdering and enslaving. As the game goes on, Altair begins to doubt the motivations of his master and the purpose of his missions. So by the end of the game, you’re not really sure if you’re the good guy or bad guy anymore. It’s not like you get to make any actual choices about what to do, but you do feel at least that Altair struggles with the fact that he’s murdering a hell of a lot of people for “peace.”

    Desmond, Lucy and Vedic get a bunch of development in the original game as well, and I think AC1’s “real world” game sequences are a lot more interesting than AC2’s. Though Ezio’s story is stand-alone, the meta-story of AC2 is a direct continuation of the meta-story from AC1, and AC2 doesn’t do a very good job of explaining the backstory.

    All that said, I still think that AC2 is currently the best game I’ve played in some time. The few flaws it has, I think, are pretty minor compared to good things about the game.

    Apparently there are two DLC packs coming out in January and February that fill in Sequences 12 and 13, the ‘lost’ memories that you skip over before going to Roma.

  3. admin says

    I believe what you’re saying about the narrative in AC1 doing a lot to make the morality of AC2 make sense, but to me, that does not forgive AC2 for not addressing this more directly. I never really had the sense that the game was telling me I was doing anything wrong by killing people. In fact, it kind of implied that as long as I said some last rites over the important people, my wholesale slaughter of the established authority of the cities of Italy was a-okay. Ezio himself never questions his methods, and neither do any of the highly sympathetic characters he deals with, so I really can’t see any evidence that the game wants to ask these questions. I did ask these questions myself, but that’s just my anti-authoritarian leanings.

    As for the frame story, sorry, on that ground it’s a pure FAIL for AC2. I shouldn’t have to have a backstory to find a character interesting. I shouldn’t need to know prehistory to get into a plot. The story of the frame is just boring, and no amount of narrative somewhere else would make it better.

  4. Douglas Yee says

    Oh, I agree the failure of AC2 to take a serious look at the actual morality of Ezio’s actions is a big one. I was actually quite disappointed by it. And as for the frame story, I am also forced to agree somewhat; although I kind of like it, I’ve always been a proponent of games having self-contained stories, and this fails at that, big time.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  5. Douglas Yee says

    Also, the tower scene near the end where they have the Assassin initiation? I was confused as hell. I thought I already was an Assassin! After all, I’ve been reading Codex pages and recovering seals and performing assassinations for TEN YEARS. I know more about the Assassins than most Assassins do. I figured that kind of made me one by default.

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