How's Assassin's Creed II?

In anticipation of Assassin’s Creed II I wanted to replay the first one. I did the same for Mass Effect and it was well worth the replay.

However, about 20 minutes into the game I gave up. I had forgotten how consolified the whole experience was. The controls, even for the game pad, left much to be desired. The graphics felt dated, and the whole auto save coupled with the 10 menus to fight through in order quit the game had me wondering how I managed to finish the game the first time around. The repetitiveness of the missions, the bad “future self experiencing genetic memories” storyline, all came back flooding.

To the point where now I’m wondering if I should even pick the sequel up.

Contrast that with Mass Effect, where re-playing through the first one, not only mean something real in the sequel (many of my choices carried over), but was a rather enjoyable experience, despite a few issues with that game (mostly pacing issues and the elevators). The controls are great on the PC and the game never told me when I could or could not save my game. I could also quit whenever I felt like it in about 2 seconds.

So tell me peoples, how is Assassin’s Creed II? Now I know it’s not out on the PC yet, so questions such as controls, graphics, and quit menus on that platform aren’t exactly known quantities, but what about the storyline? Both the future one and the renaissance time line? Good, bad? Does the game allow you to save whenever you want, or are there save “points” again?

Any improvements to the graphics overall? How are the missions?

It’s much better than the first one.

I haven’t finished it, but the story so far seems more… believable. As in, instead of being a shadowy mystical Hashashin who ends up killing both crusaders and Muslims and hearing them make long, long speeches post mortem, you’re a petty Italian nobleman who goes on a killing spree to avenge the death of his father and brothers. Of course, Daddy was an Assassin, and got killed off as a result of some conspiracy, but this being 15th century Italy, conspiracies are par for the course, and there’s little emphasis put so far on pieces of Eden and ancestral plots (and I’m up to the last few kills, I think). The conspiracy also involves actual, historical plots, such as the Pazzi revolt in Florence.
The present timeline is less interesting than it was, since there’s less mystery, but then there’s less of it - instead of going back each time you kill a target, you go back at rare intervals in the story.

As for the gameplay, it hasn’t changed much, except melee combat with lots of guards is more difficult (parrying and countering isn’t the be all, end all anymore, and some types of guards make you pay when you try that little trick), but you have lots more gimmicks up your sleeve to avoid such fights. Some gimmicks make the game very easy indeed (such as smoke bombs), but of course you don’t *have *to use them.
There’s also less mandatory faffing about before you get to kill someone (you know, the eavesdropping, pickpocketing, racing missions of the 1). The missions are still there, but they’re optional and only give you some money to buy gear with, and to have fun. There’s also more variety in them.

Finally, there’s a grand scavenger hunt across the whole game to find and decode information left in the Animus by your predecessor, which has a definite “Da Vinci Code” feel to it, with puzzles hidden in architecture and such. And speaking of architecture, climbing up the Duomo, or the Palazzo of the Doges feels awesome, esp. when you’ve seen them IRL - they’re really close to the real thing.

You still can’t save whenever you want, but there are more checkpoints during missions, so if you fail at one point, you respawn mid-mission rather than at the Assassin Bureau across the city.

There’re two annoyances with the gameplay though : your villa, and notoriety. Your villa is how you make money and buy equipment, only it’s in ruins, so you must invest in it. After you’ve done so a little bit, it starts producing money every 20 minutes, but it can only hold so much money total, meaning you’ve got to come back to it every now and then to empty the chests and invest some more. Thanks to instant travel, it’s pretty quick, but it’s still a bit of a bore.
Notoriety is the system put in place that makes guards more or less aware of you. If you do weird things in public, or pickpocket too many civilians, your notoriety goes up, and more guards are suspicious of you in the streets. To make it go down, you have to find wanted posters of you, or bribe town criers. Since most missions raise your notoriety, you spend much time doing so - but again, you don’t have to if you don’t care to. It just makes the game more difficult if you don’t.

Finally, the controls haven’t changed much at all.

I agree that it’s basically better in every way. While going back to your villa can be a bit of a hassle, you don’t have to do it every time your chest fills up as you get MORE then enough money after a few hours of gameplay to never need it, so I find myself only going back after I complete DNA sequences so that I can collect the money and also buy the new gear made available, as it’s sold at a discount in your villa.

Again with notoriety, it’s an annoyance, but bribing a town crier (which costs a piddling 500 florians, which is nothing) will lower it enough that it doesn’t matter any more.

Hiding is done much better as you can simply walk amongst a group of people and disappear with them, or hire people to distract guards/walk around with you and that makes things much easier.

And while you can’t save wherever you want, if you open the main menu and go to quit it’ll save the game for you on exit, so you can stop wherever you want.

All in all the game is definitely better in every way than the first one, and i love the first one. I’m finding AC2 to be quite excellent and I highly recommend it

Guards don’t really become more aware, it’s more like a toggle. Anonymous and Notorious. If you stick to the roofs and abuse some of the more interesting weapons like poison and some of the techniques like jump double kills you can avoid getting a lot of points. Since you don’t toggle until the meter is full you can more or less ignore it until you get to about 75% in a town. Then you can find an assassination target spawns, if you kill them most of it goes away in one fell swoop. I think I got through the game only being notorious once (not including the one or two times the plot demands it).

Anyway, ACII is a big step up, but the story is a bit odd. It doesn’t obsess over the Pieces as much and as early as the original did, but when it does focus on them you can be pretty sure it’s going to be absolutely crazy. Especially the Da Vinci Code-esque glyph puzzles mentioned.

One thing to look out for on the PC version is some nasty DRM: Official explanation of controversial Assassin’s Creed 2 DRM | Ars Technica

If your network connection drops out on you, even though it’s a single player game, you’ll get kicked back to the last checkpoint.

This is the perfect time for me for this to come up again, as I’ve (unexpectedly, I assured you) picked up the first game some time ago and have put quite a few hours into it. I got through the first time with some difficulty by only doing the minimum required investigations, and now I’m going for a clean sweep. It’s quite a chore, no question, but pretty satisfying putting together the stories piece by piece.

I like the fact that I can explore at will, nothing results in irrevocable harm, I can be ruthless, and I can win fights. I don’t understand the mentality that every fight in a game has to be controller-breaking difficult or that you should get torn to bits in two seconds if you’re spotted. Good lord, there are too many impossible games for the PS3 as it is; is an OCCASIONAL game that’s a hair shy of murderous too much to ask?

Nonetheless, I have NO interest in playing it again once I’m done…ever. See, there are certain…annoyances that didn’t seem too horrible the first time around, but as time goes by are becoming increasingly unbearable. I don’t know what the hell UbiSoft was thinking.

Anyway, I’d just like to ask if Assassin’s Creed 2 has any of the following:

  • Droning bores who stand in one place and blather the same 8 preachy sentences over and over and over…and over…and **over…**and, even if you kill them, respawn. (Seriously, you guys are complaining about one-time postmortem speeches?)
  • Obnoxious, whiny dregs who get in your way and beg, beg, beg endlessly (wow, lady, for someone so poor and sick and hungry, you sure are pretty energetic :rolleyes: ), and, like the droning bores, are impossible to eliminate for good.
  • Worthless despicable slimeball dirtbag hellspawn who chuck you all over the place, and for some truly deranged reason are “innocent”, so you take a hit for killing them. And of course, like true vermin, they always return…

If any of these hideous wastes of programming code are in, I’m not getting this. Complete dealbreaker.

Good to know that it’s always possible to get more money (and hence keep health and armor in tip-top shape), and also good to have some variety in the weaponry. I’m always leery at “improved” fighting systems, however…usually that means “take out everything that was fun and ensure that you get slashed to ribbons each and every time”. I want to hear some testimonals from players who’ve gotten into some real scrapes and if there were viable strategies for winning them, or at least getting through in good shape. I will not play anything where I have to be in constant paranoid fear of my life and fare absolutely horribly in any and all conflicts. Just for the record, I’m pretty good at fighting in AC1, and I have countering mostly down, but I still take a few hits in every big battle and panic-press more than I’d like.

On a related note, one of the most alarming things about this game is something I read on a FAQ, that if your armor deteriorates too much, your life boxes will turn red when you’re hit…and this damage cannot be healed. Naturally, I have no intention of ever letting even the tiniest damage to armor go unfixed (I’ll pickpocket for 5 hours for the necessary funds if it comes to that), but you never know…my armor could get demolished in a single long battle, I could end up far from an armorer, or I could just plain get unlucky. How serious is the threat of damage that remains permanent for the entire length of the game? And what were they thinking, again?

This sounds like it could be fun; just like to make sure that it actually is. I’ve been burned too many times.

AC2 has Minstrels who attack in packs, but you can easely get rid of them by dropping a few coins.

Not sure what you’re referring to, so can’t comment. (Been a while since I played the first one.

As wtks said, there are minstrels. But throw a handful of coins and you can get rid of them easily enough. Also, while killing them can get you in trouble, (i.e. killing 3 civillians will desynchronize you, unlike in AC 1 where you lose health), you can pretty much unarm yourself and punch them, though you run a good chance of getting notoriety unless you are wearing something that results in no notoriety. The reactions the minstrels give when punched are pretty amusing. (Among my favorite is "Please, is my music that bad?)

Still a bit of this. And the people who carry boxes and stuff intentionally make a beeline for you and if you don’t use the gentle push as you approach them you will make them drop their stuff. But it’s not as annoying as it was in the first game. I found AC 2 in many ways easier than the AC 1 because the truly annoying aspects were tweaked or removed. At the same time, the guard battles are actually tougher and countering isn’t necessarily automatic like it used to be. Also, the assassin blade upgrades are awesome (double blade, poison, gun).

You misunderstand. The majority of your synchronization boxes actually come from your armor. It’s not like the last game where synchro boxes equlled life. So the higher level armor you have, the more life you have. That’s what armor does. It does not reduce the damage of a hit when it gets through. Each synch box can take 3 minor hits before it blanks out. (Major hits can count for many more minor hits.) Once it blanks out, it cannot heal over time unlike the first game. (Though, if you’ve only taken the equivalent of 2 minor hits, the box will slowly refill to full, but only the last box damaged. Any empty boxes will be empty until you heal.) Now, each hit will weaken your armor until it break. Once broken, the synch boxes that piece of armor gave you will turn red, and for now you lose that amount of life. However, once you repair your armor, the boxes return to normal. So there is no permanent damage unless you choose not to repair your armor. (And money flows like rain in this game, so why wouldn’t you?)

Also, while healing is cheap, you autoheal back to full (assuming no broken armor) when you start most missions, so you don’t need to heal before them.

Droning bores - no! I know exactly what you mean, pedestrians all saying the exact same thing over and over. AC 2 is a lot better that way.

Beggars have been replaced by Minstrels - there are a lot less of them, and more easily avoided - you can toss some coins and get rid of them, but my favorite is to grab them by the collar and headbutt them.

The crazies who could toss you around are gone. There are occasional people who get in your way but nothing like that.

Really, every concern I ever heard about AC1 was addressed, and addressed well in AC2. I’ve played both all the way through, and AC 2 is much better…

And yeah, you misunderstood about the damage - you can only heal up to the max amount based on your armor, but you can easily get your armor fixed, so that’s only ever temporary.

I know it’s a toggle, but I could have sworn there were more red dots for “guard more aware than a dead salami” at 25, 50 and 75% notoriety as well. Then again, I usually run at 25% or less (using the rooftops and pushing the occasional guard to his plummeting, Wilhelm screaming death 4 stories lower) so it’s mostly just an impression from after dicey missions where I stab people in the face right in front of an armed mob :o.

Re : healing and armour, it’s in fact almost impossible to outright die in this game unless you plummet to your death from the top of a high building :dubious:. In combats and such, magic healing salts could see you through a fight with the entire city if need be. Instant full heal, costs next to nothing, and you can carry a truckload of them. It’s one of those things that make the game easy, maybe too much IMO.

Well, there was this mission I once got, to infiltrate a sealed palazzo while a bunch of hookers and thieves distracted the guards of the back door. Brute force was absolutely out of the question in my mind : there were about 12 guards at the front gate, not counting the always possible patrol intervening mid-fight. Among those 12 were 6 heavies (more on those later). Long story short, the controller fucked me mid-climb and I fell down smack dab in the middle of the pack. I could have sworn I was dead… but I managed to kill them all in the end - thankfully, no patrol intervened. I did go through 4 or 5 healing potions though. So while basic combat is more difficult, it’s not absurdly impossible either.

Basically, now you’ve got 3 types of guards :

  • basic ones : no change there, except some now use polearms (spears and halberds). You can’t parry polearms, but you can take it from them by countering with your fists instead of your blade. Once you’ve got yourself a polearm, real fun begins as you get to sweep the feet from under the whole bunch. The counters are also absurdly gruesome :slight_smile:

  • nimble ones : they’ll counter your own counters, and you instead have to use regular combos to touch them, preferably with a swift weapon or even your dagger - when you do, they tend to fall fast though. I find it’s even easier to just grab them and slit their throats, or throw them on another guard and hidden blade-stab’em both while they’re down. They also die instantly to hidden blade counters.

  • heavies. Those are the nasty ones. Decked in full plate and using two handed weapons. You can’t parry them. You can’t counter them. They deal a ton of damage. They can take a lot of direct damage. The secret here is to use the dodge instead of parry - whacking them in the back or sides works, even better follow it with the hidden blade for an instant kill. You can also take their weapon from them (unarmed counter), in which case you’ll probably lose it a few seconds later as you embed it in their skull.

All three are easy to tell from one another, so no worries there. It’s just that instead of having one fighting-routine-fits-all, you have to get the hang of two new ones. And as I said before, you’ve now got all sorts of gimmicks to get out of a jam.

In the end though, I’ve found that the bog standard unarmed counter works wonders in almost every case : you take their weapon from them, and a weapon-less soldier is an instant kill with pretty much anything, including their former weapon. The timing can get tricky, but it gets the job done. And it looks cool, too - the warhammer finishers in particular make me cringe every time ;).

Hoppy Frood - I see. Thank you. The FAQ writer wasn’t clear on red box damage. Definitely appreciate the fact that money isn’t an object.

Oh, and as for droning bores, this sound familiar? “I stand before you to deliver a warning! 'Till Richard reaches Jaha, there will be no stopping him! Curse him! Curse the English king and his army of infidels! Everywhere they ride, they spread horrors in their wake! We must be strong! Strong like Salah Al Din! The fires of war consume the land, and thousands of lives are lost in it’s defense! It seems a tragedy, but I say to you, it is an honor! To fight for what you believe in! We must resist! We must push back! This city is ours! Has always been ours!Truly, yes, I say unto you, be strong, fight these infidel invaders, and be true to your faith, and drive the English king back to the foul pit he came from, and keep the holy land, so that our true faith shall not be defiled by the horrors of the tide of the infidelity of the Christiany of the blah blah blah blah blah blah…whoa, is it 4:00 already?”

I can handle the occasional “Leave now and I’ll let you live”, but Flying Spaghetti Monster save me from those slow torturers!

Stormcrow - Good, good! By far the worst thing about those crazies (and the beggars and speechifiers were just as bad) was that there was no way of dealing with them that didn’t stand a good chance of causing greater trouble. Throwing him generally led to disruptions, punching him would spark a brawl with any goons in the vicinity, and taking his life cost a chunk of synchronization and leave evidence for the guards, and again, it’s never permanent. The beggars with their nails-on-a-chalkboard voices were just as bad; near the end, I’d have given them a friggin’ chest full of coins if it meant they’d shut the hell up and leve me alone. Messing with the minstrels sounds like it might actually be kinda fun, and if buying them off means that they won’t be all over me like a bad rash when I’m trying to, y’know, get a task done, well, I can share the wealth.

Kobal2 - Hey now, this game is starting to sound seriously cool. Just to clarify, I don’t mind getting my butt kicked every so often as long as I can see what went wrong, adjust my strategy and/or be better equipped, and try again. Given the vareity of weapons and equipment here, doesn’t look like there are going to be any impossible battles. (Unlike some PS3 games I could name…yeah, I’m looking at you, Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires!)

I just got it. It’s incredible. Absolutely wonderful, really. The control WORK - except on rare cases, where it can’t quite seem to figure what I’m doing and I wind up droping myself ten stories. But that’s rare. It’s absolutely a blast to explore, improve your kit, and kill people. The villains are appropriately thematic (Look, a bloody Italian feud, straight outta Romeo and Juliet! ba-dum kssh! [Thas a joke cos o “bloody” and “bloody”. Cos he’uz English, see? OK, yeah, it wasn’t funny.)

But yeah, you feel powerful without being completely invulnerable, with a lot of ahir-raising moments. The controls are fluid, the set design is incredible. Heck, the only problem at all is that it’s a little too easy to get turned around.

I do have to say I’m almost entirely uninterested in the Templar/Modern Day story or whatever. I kinda hope they never get too far in that, and maybe show us some ancient CHinese assassin scenario - or maybe India or ancient ROme (it’d be different enough from 16th-century Italy to still be cool).

Oh, and seriously, Altair’s Codex writings are a hoot in a weird way. That guy was at least an honest nihilist, but he totally had a Grim Avenger Doing Stuf Just Because. According to him, he had no reason to do anything anywhere anytime, but he did it and sacrificed for years… just because. Or something. And then I wonder what he did see at the end…

as for the minstrels, I don’t even bother throwing money on the ground, or punching them. Just tap the right trigger (or R2 on ps3) to run for a step and bump into them, they’ll drop their instrument and then leave you alone. It’ll only draw attention to you if you’re notorious, too

Heheh. Well, there still are public criers, I’m afraid, although their screams are more varied : when you’re still unknown, they’ll shout various announcements that may or may not have a relation to the plot (like “the merchant something has been fined for selling shitty wares” or “because of the increase in drownings and gondola accidents on the Grand Canal, the doge has decreed it is now illegal to drink near the water”), and when you start causing too much trouble they talk about you like you’re some kind of boogeyman. “The Assassin is within our walls right now ! He kills for his sick fun !”.
But as I said, now instead of having one speech over and over, they have a dozens of short ones picked at random, so while you might notice the repetitions during a long session, it’s much less annoying.

Same thing for the bards, btw : instead of the ubiquitous “No, please, you don’t UNDERSTAND ! I’m sick, I’m pooooor, I’m HUNGRY !”, they’ll sing little ditties about you, sometimes even dirty ones, but rarely the same twice.

I haven’t encountered any drunk/insane guys shoving bastards at all, however if you bump into patrolling guards they’ll sometimes follow you around insulting you and, yes, shove you around just because they can. Guards are assholes that way :slight_smile:

Ah, those guys. Yeah, they’re not really in the game anymore. You now have town criers, but they’re actually useful because you can bribe them to lower your notoriety. And for the most part, the criers just announce the status of the city. And when your notoriety gets high, they will also start railing about the evil assassin in town who must be caught and punished. They’re also considerably less “in your face” then their equivalents from the first game.

Yeah, but it’s not as amusing that way. They just get frustrated when you do that. I prefer making them fear me and run away. And money on the ground can distract guards as well as the people all scramble for it.

(And speaking of money, I still get a kick out of poisoning one of the brutes or polearm fighting guards and then throwing money at their feet when they go crazy and start swinging wildly. The reactions of the townfolk are amusing as the AI controlling them can’t decide if they should run from the sight of people getting killed or dive in for the cash themselves.)

Yeah, and they give you a bit of notoriety after they taunt you. Usually I got to the point where since I was getting the notoriety anyway, I’d kill them discretely right as they turned their back on me. It’s great when there’s three or four of them and when you take out one, the others don’t notice that their companion has suddenly stopped walking with them.

A few other very minor nitpicks: For whatever reason, this is a game which basically is training you to play it throughout the whole game. Thus, I still haven’t picked up all the gear even though I’m about halfway through or so. I would like to have the wrist gun or something, but I don’t. I just picked up smoke bombs, which is good because they’re apparently damn useful (you can drop one and then Instant-Assassinate people in the fog). Likewise, while the special assassination moves sound cool, there’s a lack of opportunity to use them a lot.

Now, understand: these are Very Minor Nitpicks. It’s like saying a delicious tasty pie made by the finest bakery in the land has a tiny spot where the crust is just a hair too cooked: it might be theoretically nicer if the crust was perfect on every square inch, but it isn’t going to happen and you won’t care because the pie is just that good.