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Assassin's Creed II Thoughts - Destructoid

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I'm an Iranian gamer. I live in Iran. I think it's a shithole but hey, what can I do about it? Nothing yet, apparently.
Also, like many others my sole dream in this universe is to one day be a game designer and/or work with the people who develop and produce video games for gamers to enjoy.
I started gaming when I was about 8 with an ATARI 2600 (although I do remember having a couple of those black and white handheld systems before that. No not Gameboys.) I'm 25 now.
My Favorite game of all time is Grim Fandango.
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Hey people. Just wanted to update my blog with announcing what I'm currently playing and what are my thoughts about it so far. On my XBOX 360 (which gave me a single RROD last night before resuming function but still scaring the holy shit out of me) I'm playing the second Assassin's Creed game.

I finally managed to gather up my lazy ass from the floor to actually play one of the sandbox games from my (really huge) backlog.

You see, I really hate sandbox games. I tend to get lost a lot, spend most of my time just wandering around with indecisiveness and imagine just how insane I should be to even think about exploring the huge game world. (I may never even touch upon Red Dead Redemption. I'm thinking about getting rid of it, actually).

What can I say, I'm just one of those people who likes to get shoved towards my next objective and watch glorious set-pieces instead of "Creating my own fun". I pay to be entertained when I buy a video game. I don't want to "make my own fun". Little Big Planet, I'm looking at you.


But that's just my personal opinion. I know how much time and effort goes into making games like AC2 or RDR and I salute the people who have the balls of steel to challenge themselves like that and although this is just not my thing, I constantly find myself playing the good ones which get good reviews no matter how sickly I feel about the genre. Sometimes it feels good to be a Metacritic whore. I think it's one of life's guilty pleasures.

So why am I playing Assassin's Creed 2 when I am clearly torturing instead of enjoying myself? I don't know. Maybe because I played the first one (Because the hype behind it was BIG) and I wanted to know Desmond's (and his ancestors') fate. If you know about the shitty cliffhanger ending of the first game then you understand what I mean.

Cliffhanger endings were fairly new for me back then (I'm talking about real, big, fat, ugly CLIFFHANGERS). I had some exposure to them but I never thought they would soon turn into a constant irritating trend.


I didn't know they were elaborate corporate schemes which would inevitably constantly lure us into buying the 6 sequels and 6 prequels which shall be released each year with their own cliffhanger endings. To their credit, the story seems much tighter and more cohesive this time around.


Why? because my curiosity about what the fuck will happen to a virtual character is probably more important than whether I'm having fun with the actual game or not. I just roll that way.

Anyway, I've played about 8 hours of it. The game looks nice if you don't go into detail (the faces are really shitty) and it's kind of ironic when I see that the Parkour stuff feel so rigid and unresponsive since I played the first Assassin's Creed (which I thought at the time controls like a dream). Why ironic? Because AssCreed is basically the game which brought the whole building scaling, automatic Parkour stuff to video games and since then, many games have improved upon it (inFamous and Prototype come to mind). But AssCreed 2's free-running mechanics remain intact from the first game and they feel dated.
Ezio just doesn't seem like the graceful acrobat Altair seemed to be 3 years ago. Or maybe I'm just spoiled by all the super powers and "hover" abilities.


I can't count how many times I "thought" I could make a jump across some balconies but my character failed to do so and stumbled down to the alley below with half his life bar gone to hell. I have to admit I had much more fun playing the other two mentioned games over this in terms of movement and platforming. Basically, it's like they've just polished up the graphics of the first one a little, injected more personality to the main character to make him seem "hip" and "cool" and changed the map from middle eastern structures to European style architecture (which indeed looks glorious).

Sure there are some added mechanics like an economy system which from what I've gathered so far is pretty minimal and unnecessary. They could have just awarded you money or upgrade points for every mission/Side-mission accomplished instead of this whole Villa/art collecting/Blacksmith clusterfuck.

Of course, to be fair the game now seems much more varied from the first one. You have many side missions (although most of them tend to approach the good old "find this" or "beat up that guy" variety) and some of them are interesting enough. The fighting is the same as always with the exception that you can snag an enemy's weapon if you time your attack right. The camera can be a bitch in tight spaces and the free-running challenges (the Assassin dungeons or whatever) are clear portraits of what is not functioning correctly in the game's free-running system. You can Swim now. Which is really just there for the sake of being there but I'm not going to complain about that.

And the novelty of doing Leaps of Faith has but completely evaporated for me. I thought maybe the first one or two will give me that same glorious feeling of rush and vertigo but nope. No matter how high I climbed and leaped, it just didn't feel the same. You also get to find Hidden Treasures which are scattered throughout the huge map. (yay... fun. *YAWN*) The thrill of some of the main story assassinations are still there though. But in games like this you just feel guilty for rushing on with the main events without exploring or doing some side-missions. It IS a sandbox game after all. Menu designs look cool but good luck avoiding confusion and headaches when actually exploring them.

To sum up, as far as I've played, the game is better than the first one. The game is basically the same as the first one but the experience is more fine-tuned although it's now much more derivative. They have added a few gimmicks for the sake of the "2" you see in front of the title. It may look like a pretty flower at first but once you start peeling, don't be surprised if you find some familiar albeit passable thorns. I am yet to see the ending so I can't say if it's as much of a rip-off as the first one. I'll report back when I finish.
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