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Assassin's Creed II 360 Review

22/07/2010 Thinking Intimate Gamer Review
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Assassin's Creed II 360

Assassin's Creed II

Format:
360

Genre:
Platforming

Style:
Singleplayer
Thirdperson

Buy/Support:
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Assassin's Creed II is everything I hoped it would be. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, but where was all the sex we'd been promised? We might not get to see that kind of action, but fortunately what remains is a fantastic game on the PS3, 360 and PC.

Assassin's Creed II is an action adventure game which has you playing Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a womanising jack-the-lad who becomes an assassin to avenge the murder of his father and brothers. The game is essentially very similar to the original, but with plenty of improvements and much more depth.

It also wins the dubious honour of being the game I've sworn at the most in my life, at the utter frustration of Ezio not always doing what I wanted - during timed chases, for example, he'd take time out to nonchalantly jump into a haystack.

After so much anticipation, with one article promising that the game would have "disgusting sex" in it, while another said that Ezio would "put the ass in assassin", it was such a let-down to find out that the sex was a lie.

I'd been really looking forward to Assassin's Creed II and it didn't disappoint. The setting of 16th century Italy was perfect, especially the maze-like streets and canals of Venice. The missions were far more varied than the first game, and there were plenty of side missions with people to kill, items to find and secret areas to explore.

I realised that I had actually played through the sex scene that everyone was making so much fuss about, and not even noticed.

The story was captivating and the fluid climbing and free running was more fun than before. I was enjoying myself so much that I was about three quarters of the way through the game before I realised there'd been no sex or romance whatsoever. After checking online, I realised that I had actually played through the sex scene that everyone was making so much fuss about, and not even noticed.

I started the game again using another save slot, and I realised what I'd done - as I was new to the game, I hadn't noticed that I was meant to interact with cut scenes with button presses at various points. Even when I'd done this, however, the scene in question was still infinitely forgettable, simply showing a lady's naked shoulders and then Ezio blowing a candle out.

Given that Ezio is supposed to be such a playboy, I was really surprised that some kind of romantic sub-plot or plots hadn't been included in the game. When, about three quarters of the way through the game, he met Caterina ("a woman as powerful and dangerous as she is young and beautiful") I thought Ezio had finally met his match and that the games would begin. She invited me to come over to her place next time I was in town. However, despite my immediately turning around and heading back into town, her house didn't appear on my map, and I didn't get to see her again until the very end game sequence.

Since the game's sexual content had been played up so much, both by the developers themselves and by the media in the lead-up to the launch, I wondered if Ubisoft had originally intended for Assassin's Creed II to have much more raunchiness, but had pulled the plug. Perhaps they were wary of courting controversy, which both Mass Effect and Dragon Age : Origins did when they included romantic cut scenes. Perhaps they didn't want the higher age rating that would inevitably go with the content. Or perhaps, as happens in so many games, it was just one of the many things that ended up not making it into the final version due to time constraints.

He persuades Cristina to let him into her boudoir by telling her "I'll only be a minute." She drily replies, "Yes. I know."

Personally I think it would have been really enhanced with some kind of romantic mini-games, which wouldn't necessarily have had to have any sexual content at all. Perhaps there would be sub-plots around two or three different women, where Ezio could undertake a series of assassination, courier, and race missions to win favour with his chosen lady, and eventually move her into his villa (or have access to her house as an extra ‘base' in one of the towns).

What I found interesting was that, for a game that was so shy about sex, its world seemed to be so full of courtesans. Not only were women for hire on at almost every corner, but these ladies of the night feature quite heavily in the plot, too. Firstly, the remaining members of Ezio's family hide out in a brothel and the glamorous madam teaches him useful skills like pick pocketing. Later on, he finds himself in another brothel in Venice, where he is given some missions by the madam (who is also a nun), and is rewarded with the attentions of three of her ladies for the evening.

Ezio might have been a world-class womaniser, the ladies that he wooed perhaps had a very different opinion on his prowess.

I loved some of the banter that centred on Ezio's womanising ways - for example, he persuades Cristina to let him into her boudoir by telling her "I'll only be a minute." She drily replies, "Yes. I know." In another scene, Ezio is walking through town with his mother, who tells him that he should get himself a hobby. Ezio retorts that he has plenty on interests, to which his mother retorts, "I meant besides vaginas." I would have loved a bit more of this witty repartee, and I enjoyed the idea that even though in his own little world, Ezio might have been a world-class womaniser, the ladies that he wooed perhaps had a very different opinion on his prowess.

Assassin's Creed II is a fantastic game. I've completed the main plot and several of the sub-plots, and now I have the freedom to explore the world some more and finish off all the other side quests I didn't get round to doing. I like the way more and more games are letting you carry on playing after the storyline concludes, as I'm often torn between wanting to know what happens next, and getting a 100% completion rate by tying up all the loose ends. As far as sex goes, though, it's all talk and no action.

Written by Emma Boyes

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Emma Boyes writes the Intimate Gamer column.

"I thought it would be interesting to write about sex and relationships in Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS lite and PSP games. I'll also touch on other areas like how women are portrayed, gender roles, and being gay."


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