Assassin’s Creed II is a game I was highly anticipating after the completion of Assassin’s Creed back in 2007. Unbeknownst to myself and many others at the time, Assassin’s Creed II was not going to follow Altair, the previous protagonist, but rather this new, young, Italian lad named Ezio. Desmond still being the prime focus of one storyline gave the game come continuity that has lasted for the most part. So how does the sequel stack to the original?
One again the overkill PC specs I have just dwarf the specifications asked for by Ubisoft. To be fair, when you have a hobby like mine and play an 11 year old game, that tends to happen.
The game asks for:
|2.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6700
Athlon 64 X2 6000+
| 512 MB DirectX 9.0c–compliant
Shader Model 3.0 or better
So we are back with the 2.6 GHz CPU but that graphics card is awfully vague. Well having done a shred of digging I found that the following graphics cards would be the minimum for this comparison, courtesy of Game-Debate they are: AMD Radeon HD 3870 or NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT. To contrast this we have my system.
|Intel core i7-7700k
|NVIDIA GTX 1080
So what does this mean for the games performance?
This game runs like a man swimming through custard. I had the settings cranked up max initially and I struggled to achieve 60fps. Hell there are times I still struggle to reach 60FPS. Now I am yet to run this game sans stream but I have been enjoying it and due to how everything works out, I don’t notice that I am playing at 60fps.
Now I struggle to see why the games struggles. It could be just poorly optimised, there’s the possibility it is my system. Frankly it’s playable and watchable and that is all we care about. I did make the active choice to play the original as opposed to the Assassins Creed :The Ezio Collection. Granted that is a more updated and vibrant edition but sometimes it is just nightmare fuel.
Regardless, I am at that point in the game where I just need to grit my teeth and get through it. The drops to 40fps don’t last that long and I rarely use the map which is somehow hard capped to 30fps. The performance is way below optimal, but far above unplayable.
The story of Assassin’s Creed II picks up right where Assassin’s Creed left off. it is left ambiguous as to how much time has truly elapse. It could be anywhere between 30 minutes to a day tops, but this is where our two-tailed story comes into play. Let’s start off (like the game) with Desmond.
After the events of Assassin’s Creed, Desmond is in his prison when he sees writing on his wall. Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese and Japanese writing all over the back wall of his bed. Having examined them for an unknown amount of time, Lucy (one of the scientists helping with the Animus) rushes Desmond out of the room. Having shown her allegiance to the brotherhood, she orchestrates a prison break of sorts.
Desmond takes a small trip into the Animus whilst Lucy downloads some data. Here we get to witness the birth of Ezio Auditore da Firenze (Ezio Auditore of Florence). Soon after, Desmond is taken to the warehouse where the current group of assassins reside. Here he meets Shaun Hastings, Rebecca Crane and The Animus 2.0.
Lucy plans to teach Desmond all the techniques and skills of Ezio in a fraction of the time using this new Animus. Along the way, Desmond learns of a mysterious Subject 16. A man who was kept in an Animus for so long it drove him to insanity and to his eventual death. Subject 16 left some remnants of his exploits in the form of glyphs. These glyphs unlock segments of a video known as ‘The Truth’ and are worth finding.
If you thought Desmond had it rough then wait until you meet Ezio. A young upper-middle-class 20-year-old in renaissance Italy. After a fight in the street with a rival family, Ezio runs some errands for this mother and father. In doing so he meets a young Leonardo Da Vinci and a friend of the family. His father is embroiled in a legal case against the Pazzi (Patsy) family and in a twisted turn of events, the man helping Ezio’s father betrays the Auditore family and publicly executes Ezio’s father and 2 brothers.
Ezio soon finds out his father is a member of the Assassin’s Brotherhood and vows revenge upon the men responsible for killing his family. Ezio, his mother and sister all leave for the country where Ezio meets his uncle Mario – even Ubisoft made the joke. We soon learn of the Auditore family legacy as assassin’s and Ezio along with his uncle and connections learn of a plot that runs deep in the heart of Italy.
The Borgia – who are templars- wish to seat a person in every prominent position of power in Italy, including the Holy Throne. The Templars will stop at nothing to achieve this goal and will kill all who oppose their rule. As such, Ezio travels throughout Italy to recruit allies try and stop this threat from arising. A tough job for someone not even initiated into the brotherhood.
This has to be one of the most ambitious stories for the Assassin’s Creed franchise. This isn’t a little bit of history that can be toyed with. The Italian Renaissance is one of the most documented times in history due to the cultural and scientific advancements of the time. This is where Ubisofttake some liberties with the story.
I mean… you assassinate the pope! A pope who died due to illness. This is the game where Assassin’s Creed completely sidesteps the historical boundary of the setting and forges a new history in place of what we know. Now I do want to say that this does come from a place of unintentional ignorance. Unfortunately, the crusades are not something I was ever versed in and as such, the historical bounties being pushed in Assassin’s Creed are unknown to myself. Catholic schools tend to teach you the good parts of Christianity and gleefully omit the darker stuff as if to say it never happened. Some things never change.
Overall though I do enjoy the Assassin’s Creed II story. I have managed to race through it without even realizing and I write this review at around the 75% completion mark and filled in the rest with memory. Though it has been some time, I remember a lot about this game, it was a well-executed story.
Fortunately, Assassin’s Creed II suffers from a disease called ‘Same Shit Different Day’. Despite the gap between games, everything remained the same. There were a few little improvements to combat with the introduction of poison, dual hidden blades and even health bars above enemies but these all came with no draw backs. The combat was made more fluid and the you could even fight with the hidden blade.
The free running mechanics also some some good upgrades. Be this a stylistic choice due to how buildings in Europe and different from the Middle-East or a development choice as Ezio would be younger than Altair, free running was made faster and easier. Ezio can scale taller buildings faster and can jump between rooftops with ease. Even the streets of the game are littered with ramp-ups to get onto roofs in a fluid motion.
Atop this we also got armour that can be purchased (and broken) as well as weapons that can be purchased. You can upgrade Ezio at your pace and find the best weapons in the game. If you still don’t have enough ways to spend money there is even the option to chance the colours of your outfit and you can upgrade your uncles town to make more money.
Everything has been made easier and faster, even traveling. Fast Travel is a thing, sure it costs and can only take you from city to city but what’s faster: A load screen or horse back? These are amazing quality of life updates and most can still be found within the franchise to date.
Well my friends the time has come. A judgement if you will, the scores are in.
By in large, the story is great. I would happily have rated this higher were it not for Brotherhood and Revelations continuing the story. The game’s ending leaves it as so that we can get more of Ezio. The thing is though, due to this it means the story is incomplete. Now I do understand some reasoning behind this. Imagine how long it would take to make and complete this game, as well as that it would be 3 discs long. PS3 would have no issue (Bluray discs are 25GB single layer) but Xbox? It wouldn’t be for another year you could download discs to the console.
Performance is low due to my issue. If the issue is the game and not the computer then it will stay that way but if it’s my PC I’ll certainly make an amendment in due time. Until then it is tolerable and playable… but unacceptable.
The gameplay is amazing. My only gripe is that sometimes, what you input and what should happen in comparison to what actually happens, deviates way too much to be accidental. It’s like the game tried to course correct you, the thing is when I have a choice between a ledge and certain death… Well it should be obvious.
Anyway, guys that wraps this one. I am nowhere near a point in Assassin’s Creed III to start on a review of it. But keep your eyes peeled. Until then, arrivederci!