Assassin's Creed 2 Preview - The Next Level

Game Profile

Xbox 360
Release date:
Q4 2009

Assassin's Creed 2

If only all murder were this lovely.

Preview by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
June 4th 2009

Ah, Venice. The city of light. The city of love. I once fell in love with a gelato salesgirl under the twinkling streetlamps, only to lose her among the maze of narrow streets, which have not changed so much since the Renaissance. If only I had been an acrobat, or an assassin like Ezio, I could have scaled the very walls of the huddled stone structures, and rediscovered that neon sign from up on high. Alas, it was not to be. Though the idea of making those streets run red with blood in Assassin's Creed 2 does sound very cathartic.

Assassins Creed 2 concept art

There will be a few other faithfully recreated Italian cities in Assassin's Creed 2, but Venice is what was shown at E3. Having seen those world-famous canals in person, I can't think of a better location for a roof-hopping killer devoting all of his skill and cunning to cutting down an army of unrelenting foes.

Prepare to pay the legendary city of lights a bloody visit this winter.

One of the many new elements is enemy types, such as the paranoid seekers that'll hunt you down no matter where you hide. There are also fleet-footed enemies much more certain to catch you, but not so quick with the blade. Then there are their opposites, the heavies, who are slow to follow, but deadly with one of the forty weapon types available in the game. Though a skilled player can show them the meaning of riposte by disarming each foe and slicing into him with his own blade, such mundane weapons aren't well suited for a man of stealth, so the this assassin is lucky to have none other than Leonardo da Vinci developing his deadly gadgets, from a second blade to a crowd-clearing smoke bomb.

The mission structure of the original Assassin's Creed, lamented by even the game's biggest fans, has been completely cut away. Now the player has the option to follow along the diverse elements of the plot but can at any time spring for dynamic objectives, such as slitting the purse and throat of a wandering fat merchant. There are ninety total missions in the game, in the form of story and side quests, not including these dynamic objectives. The tale continues to follow Desmond in the present, slowly unraveling his current circumstances through these journeys into the past.

Assassin's Creed 2 concept art

I'm still a little spellbound by the visuals of the first Assassin's Creed. Every character, every house, and every street dripped with detail despite the truly massive scale of each environment, done completely without loading times. Assassin's Creed 2 keeps the scale, and adds a metric ton more detail. Pedestrians drip with layers and lavish colors, far more diverse than the original outing. The water of the canals shimmer under the summer sun, rising as the shadows fall away now that the game features a full night and day cycle. But perhaps the most eye-arresting image for me was how the city around Ezio seemed to shatter and collapse when he finally killed off his target, rippling back as the body hit the cold ground.

So prepare to pay the legendary city of lights a bloody visit this winter.

Ezio from Assassin's Creed 2

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