A deep dive into the past: today we’re putting our Assassin’s Creed II discs back in the tray!
Can a game enrapture someone that much that they find themselves -even a decade later- appreciating it like the old days? That’s the question! We’re talking about Assassin’s Creed II, that major Ubisoft title, that eventually brought the beloved and popular franchise to life. That is one of the games I personally will never forget looking back on 2009, when I first played it. And of course, I still find myself looking back, reminiscing all the exciting moments I experienced as a kid while playing.
Assassin’s Creed II, 12 years later, is still considered a priceless gem, both in the gaming industry and in general, but also among the other titles of this franchise. Even though the first AC title is where it all began, the second is considered to have been the one that helped the series spread its wings.
A smart introduction to Ezio
For starters, both the first and the second game are so well connected together providing coherence and helping the until then confusing story of Desmond Miles slowly unravel. It is here that the eternal conflict between Assassins και Templars takes shape and it becomes obvious that beyond Desmond’s and his ancestors’ story, the game focuses on the evolution of this conflict over the years, as well as on the pursuit of, not only the Apple of Eden but also the First Civilisation’s ultimate power.
Diving into the game’s plot, we start from the very beginning, Ezio Auditore’s da Firenze birth. Ezio is widely regarded as the most beloved character in the AC series. This detailed game intro allows us to smoothly connect with the Italian Renaissance era of the 15th century, as well as with our main character’s life. Pretty much since the beginning, it is obvious that Ezio is a way better worked on character than Altair. Traits such as confidence, arrogance, and selfishness are part of his personality, profiling an independent young man who doesn’t want to change a single thing about his ideal life.
“It is a good life we lead brother”, “The best. May it never change”, “And may it never change us”.Federico’s words to Ezio.
That is the unforgettable dialogue between Ezio and his brother, which introduces us to the main part of the game in such a wise and smooth way, emerged from the plot itself, boosting it forward. Meanwhile, the game’s mission structure is huge and pretty much different from the classic open-world games. Assassin Tombs take first place here and are varied, complicated, and lead the player to acquiring Altair’s armor, linking the two titles (and characters). Moreover, stealth assassinations are at their best. Most assassinations can be carried out in any way the player chooses, a feature that was quite restricted in the first game, and after the game engine changed, it was almost completely gone.
Maturing throughout Assassin’s Creed II…
As the captivating storyline goes on, we watch Ezio’s evolution and transition from an arrogant teenager into a wise Assassin, who is seeking revenge for his father’s and siblings’ deaths. The main character’s progression in the story is a rare sight for the series’ newest entries, making it quite a sight for sore eyes. Ezio’s growth can also be seen through his manners and voice acting, which is exquisite. Roger Craig Smith not only masters the english-italian accent but also changes his voice and pitch to show Ezio’s growth and maturity.
Assassin’s Creed II is puts us in a living world
One can’t simply ignore (coughs in LOTR) the beauty of the world design in Assassin’s Creed II. All the cities of Italy have been designed with every little detail, managing to transfer players right back to the Renaissance era. NPCs seem almost alive, carrying on with their daily chores- just like the old days (I won’t comment on any of the bugs). Also, viewpoints actually play a major role in the plot development, and “conquering” one often seems like a mini-puzzle demanding from players to make the right moves, something that also seems to be missing in later titles.
As it’s generally regarded, AC games are based on historical events and figures that appear in the plot. That’s also something we come across in AC II. Leonardo Da Vinci adds a unique flair to the game, especially by presenting the Flying Machine to Ezio throughout the missions. This is such an innovative feature one can’t ignore. The game also focuses on rewarding the players by providing them with basic equipment gradually, and not at once, as it appears to happen in later games. Moreover, the supporting characters are more than important, having their very own story and unique backgrounds.
The game’s soundtrack by Jesper Kyd is another thing we can’t skip mentioning. Each and every track perfectly befits the Renaissance era and the story’s events, let alone the unforgettable Ezio’s Family track, which later on became the series’ main theme.
The magic is still there, 12 years later…
As I mentioned earlier, Desmond’s story gradually unfolds in Assassin’s Creed II. He discovers that he is meant to become a member of the Assassins guild and is destined to save the world, which is soon to face the apocalypse. Meanwhile, in the first game we had already found out a few things about Subject 16, Desmond’s predecessor, who, as we find out in the end, left behind significant leads, that only Ezio was able to discover. The mystery around Subject 16 unravels later, throughout the second game’s quests that compose an underlying story. A story about the creation of humankind and the coexistence of humans with the Isu, aka “The ones who came before”. By the end of the game, all the puzzle pieces begin to connect, and the story truly unfolds, helping the franchise to carry on.
The way Ezio is designed is what makes him one of the best videogame characters of all time. While the game holds its original style, exactly as its creators imagined it to be. The story, along with the characters’ charisma, the fantasy, and the side plots are connected perfectly, creating an ideal variety that prevents the game from becoming tiresome. Unfortunately, this style begins to fade in later games, until the franchise makes a 180-degree turn. For someone who has loved the original Assassin’s Creed vision throughout the years, there’s no doubt that the second game still seems as captivating as it was 12 years ago.