If you don't want to read the whole review I will try to summarize it in a shorter form at the end. Platform: Playstation 3 (version reviewed) MSRP Price: $59.99-$79.99 You have a few options as far as the price goes, of course you have the normal game($59.99) and the normal extra game($79.99, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 only), but if you have a Nintendo DS you can also play a version of this game for less ($29.99). There is also going to be a PSP Assassin's creed game called Bloodlines which has nothing to do with Assassin's Creed II. I preordered the Assassin's Creed II: The Master Assassin's Edition for the Playstation 3 which included "Collectible Ezio statue, art book, metal case,behind the scenes DVD, the soundtrack" and the part that really matters, 2 exclusive, in-game maps: Palazzo Medici and Santa Maria dei Frari. Preface As we know this is a sequel, but many sites have raved over the fact that there has been so much put into making this game better, but will Ezio really live up to the [repetitive] fun we had with Altair. Will the intriguing "in-game maps" and adaptive game play feature that is being talked about more and more, be enough to make this game a complete game. The ability to make alliances with different organizations in each city, the ability to hire thieves as distractions, all are suppose to effect the outcome of each cities mission/assassination. The new weapons/fight system is suppose to be a whole new experience, being able to steal and use enemies weapons, new weapons classes such as a gun and pole arm weapons, all are part of this new system. All this info was released before the release of the game and also can be considered hype, I will refer back to these to see if it matches up with what is in game. Gameplay I am not going to repeat what most of you already know, yes there is still free running and things of that nature in the sequel that were so innovative in the first Assassin's Creed. However most functions and elements have gotten a rather significant upgrade almost. Free running is more accurate, controllable, and even flows better then the first did. Some of the new areas you get to explore and use the better free running elements remind me of Prince of Persia style puzzles(minus the whole rewind thing). The overhauled fighting system shines when you are faced with the different classes of guards. I actually caught myself using the straight hands/fist weapon. If not that the hidden blade can now be used as a full on weapon which was tied for second with the swords. As I mentioned above the main thing lots of people were worried about was the repetitive nature of the first one. Yes there is some in that you end some sections of the game with assassinating a target, but then again the game is called Assassin's Creed. Now there are more RPG elements fused into the action/adventure based game. You can now upgrade your weapons and armor by visiting a blacksmith, buy medicine (and poison) from the doctor, the tailor will allow you to increase the size of the pouch you carry the medicine in and change the look and color of your robes, and buy treasure maps and paintings from the artist shop. The sides quest and/or mini games for the most part are all optional, with a few exceptions of introducing you to the fact they exist, or the notoriety mini game that is persistent throughout the whole game. In the notoriety mini game you are made more noticeable by guards as you do things throughout the cities to counter act that you have the option of bribing heralds, tearing down wanted notices, or even tracking down and disposing of crooked officials. One of the other side quests I feel should be mentioned is the Villa Auditore and Monteriggioni. This enables you to make quite a large sum of florins by simply investing in Monteriggioni's shops, the more you invest the more the villa's worth grows, the more you money you make every 20 minutes and every time you invest more in a shop the more of a discount you get from the shop. Value is also increased by buying weapons and armor, gaining seals/codex pages/feathers/artwork. Ubisoft has also added a nice feature known as Uplay. You gain U points by completing events in game which can be redeemed for extras such as extra throwing knifes, new area's to explore and things of that nature. You have to sign up for a Ubisoft account but I think it is well worth it. As for the trophies and achievements in this game, I am assuming the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions are on par as far as one doesn't have more then the other. This game has 51 trophies. I feel that was a nice balance point for the game, another game I played had close to 100 and every time you looked up at the top right hand corner of the screen you had a new one. Games like this make me feel better when I get a trophy because I had to work for it, not just walk a few miles or crash so many times, these trophies took maybe a 15 minute to an hour session of game play to achieve. Now is the part where I put on the disgruntled gamer hat and violently pick apart the mistakes made by Ubisoft. First of all, the gameplay still slides into a repetitive slump and unless you want to run around for hours looking for feathers, you are stuck running towards ! signs the whole game and shoving your hidden blade into their face. Which means I need to back up a step to state, why would you want to look for hours for feathers, codex pages, tombs and treasure, I want to kill people not be bothered with shiny glimmering things sprinkled about an other wise dreary city. The Uplay thing is annoying, you are getting rewarded for things you're going to do anyways, why can't you just give that up at the beginning instead of dangling a carrot you made just for the gamers in front of the gamers face the whole game and if you're not connected to the Internet not only do you already get laughed at...you can't redeem your Upoints or even sign up for them. The even more annoying blend concept this time around where you can blend into any crowd is nice but trying to figure out if it will work this time around or not is a trick I never figured out. Lastly, why must you add annoyances like guitar players and pickpockets into the game. You try to enjoy a nice stroll through the city and next thing you know guards are alerted to the fact that you are around because of the horrid music following closely behind you or even better some punk running around grabs your money and if you kill them for doing so to regain your money you get scolded with the message “warning: Ezio did not kill (citizens/innocent or something like that)” Graphics & Audio Leading up to playing it I began to hear reviews that the graphics were worse then the first one, this is both true and false. I feel they traded off the quality of the cut scenes to improve on the important part, the actually play time. As you move through cities, jumping leaping, climbing and swimming everything looks beautiful and very well done. As far as the audio, it is what I fell a soundtrack should be a whole bunch of music that fits the time and setting of the story being told. To add to this Ubisoft went one better, a dynamic soundtrack. Just turning a corner will change the music. The only thing I didn't like and almost gets annoying is when you come up on an area the has a secret treasure this sounds (makes me thing of just opening a box with an awe inspiring look on the face) begins to play lightly in the background and gets louder the closer you get. Good when your looking for the treasure and all however, the sound does just stop once you found the treasure. Every time you run by that area from beginning to end you hear that noise and it often makes you second guess if you missed something or not. Other then that the beat and feel of the song made the game play that much better. Replay Value Because of the evolving/dynamic game play system in theory every time you play this game something different or new will happen. Some of the time the story will branch off and you will have to go one of two or three ways but end up with the same result. This is present in most games today however and the visually pleasing surroundings and the depth of the game and side quest will really pull you in. For me the replay value is very high not only because of the story but also the time period the game takes place in. Pros +gameplay visual quality better +less repetitive +more things to do with the mini games almost side quest things +armor and weapons upgrade systems +villa/town upgrades Cons -cut scene quality lower then first -THE FREAKIN TREASURE IS NEAR NOISE -monetary system -some fights last to long -new blend mechanic Wrap Up Overall Assassin's Creed was very innovative and Ubisoft tried very hard to build on that base and give the gamers what they wanted. In my eyes they achieved this goal. If you were scared off from the first Creed the sequel is a major improvement and should be at least considered for a session of play or two. It does have some issues, but compared to the original just feels like a more complete game experience. The in-game maps were a nice addition letting you explore more of the beautiful cities in the game. Instead of just bodies being piled everywhere thieves, courtesans and mercenaries can be used to distracted guards and allow you safe entrance into even the heaviest guarded areas. The adapting game play means every time the game is played something new can be thrown your way. An overhauled fighting system deserves a notice as well. Overall I feel the developers learned from the mistakes made during the first game and came back strong, but there are still area's where the game lacks. Score: 8.5/10 If you have any questions for me or would like me to discuss anything mentioned a little more in depth here just let me know. Oh and by the way all the copyrighted, trademarked, and other wise protected things I mentioned above are all property of their respective company, parties, people.