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Assassin's Creed II on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC is the sequel to the critically acclaimed multi-million selling first game in the series. The game made its name for impressive visuals and free-flow climbing, running and jumping in Medieval locations. Assassin's Creed 2 improves on the original by taking the player to a new setting - Renaissance Italy - and by overhauling the already impressive game play. Assassin's Creed 2 remains impressive on 360 PS3 or PC with its incredible draw distance and parkour style climbing mechanics.
Whether you loved or hated the slightly forced time travelling excuse for Altair's antics in the original Assassin's Creed, very few could fault the game play of the main game. In an instant, all other open-world experiences looked stilted next to Ubisoft's smooth architecture, pin-point climbing animations and controls. The sense of connection this gave between player and landscape was tangible. No longer was the environment a backdrop to the action, it was a genuine actor in proceedings. And by getting to know the cityscapes of Assassin's Creed 2 you give yourself an instant advantage. The right places to acquire information, or to stalk your victims mean you can progress without detection.
Assassin's Creed 2 introduces a new character, Ezio Auditore di Firenze, who is another ancestor of Desmond Miles. And as before, a story of challenging morals emerges as we slowly learn of a nobleman out to avenge the death of his family. By taking this story through famous modern day tourist spots it cleverly makes the most of its impressively rendered setting. Players will lap-up the chance to explore real world Rome, Venice, Florence and Tuscany, as well as specific landmarks such as the Grand Canal and St Mark's Basilica.
Much of this will be familiar to those who played the original game, but there are also a number of new aspects to Assassin's Creed 2. This time around the player has access to a variety of gadgets to compliment his usual collection of melee and ballistic weapons. Most impressive of these is the Da Vinci glider that offers swift transport and great views to boot.
Also new this time are a clutch of additional Parkour climbing and jumping moves. Players can now swing and leap more freely and creatively around the space. They are also able to traverse water with the new swimming mechanic - a small change but one that resolves our hero's previous inexplicable sensitivity to the wet stuff.
Combat has been refreshed as well. The simple moves of Assassin's Creed are now complemented with literally dozens of different weapons, not to mention a new health system. The same free flowing direction based attacks return, but with added variety these become increasingly creative and less of a grind. You can even disarm your enemies and then use their own weapons against them.
For me it was the openness of the missions themselves that make the biggest difference. Whereas the first Assassin's Creed game on 360, PS3 and PC adopted a preset list of missions that were at times repetitive, Assassin's Creed II offers improved mission variety, with new freeform mission structures and many more random events.
Assassin's Creed 2 is a sequel that builds on the successes of the first game, while acknowledging and rectify its shortcomings. A more open mission structure, improved visuals, varied combat and real world locations make this an impressive offering. Provided the Renaissance setting is as appealing to you as Knights of Yore, this is a must have game on either 360, PS3 or PC.
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