The hands-off run through I saw of Assassin's Creed 2 was actually the same exact thing that was presented during the Sony conference and you can check that out above. So this preview won't be that long, but there are a few additional facts I can throw your way.
Hit the break to hear about the new features such as the Flying Machine, swimming, hired help and more.
One new gameplay addition is Leonardo da Vinci's Flying Machine. The new hero of AC 2, Ezio Auditore di Firenze, needs to use the Flying Machine in the level that was shown as that's the only way he can reach his target. Ezio needs to fly over the various fire pits scattered along the way towards his goal in order to gain more altitude while flying. Ezio has some combat ability while flying and can kick people when he gets close enough to an enemy.
Ezio will also have contact with a few different groups in Italy that will assist him when needed. Say a target is heavily guarded and there's no safe way to get to your goal. Ezio can get a group to create a distraction nearby, luring the guards away thus giving Ezio an easier way in.
Stealth combat looked a lot simpler this time around, which may or may not have been a good thing. It felt too easy to pull off some of the stealth kills. The action combat is at least a little more complex, but as you can see in the video, enemies will take turns to fight you just like in the first game. I hate that type of combat as it pulls me out of the immersion.
On that same note about immersion, random spots on the screen will flicker while you're playing, as if the virtual reality program is struggling to hold itself together. I really enjoyed that bit and that actually pulls me into to the game's world more. I can see that effect backfiring though, as it could pull most people out of the immersion.
One final new detail to note is that Ezio can actually swim. The water makes for a good place to dump a body, make a quick escape and Ezio can even use a boat for transportation.
What I saw was pretty impressive, but so was the original Assassin's Creed and the first one got way too repetitive in the mission structure. If the sequel can really diversify the missions, then I think we have a winner on our hands.
Also, double face stab!