Few games were quite as immersive as the first Assassinメs Creed.ᅠ I guess thereメs just something about climbing to the top of a tall structureラto bask in your own glory and take-in the viewラthat really intrigues us as human beings.ᅠ That, and killing people.ᅠ The combination of those two things equals a novel concept, by which the first Assassinメs Creed produced a mostly enjoyable gaming experience.ᅠ Pockmarked with imperfections and missed opportunities, though, the first game was met with plenty of criticism.ᅠ But ultimately, people must have ignored its shortcomingsラas more than enough copies were sold to warrant a sequel.ᅠ And it seems that most of those critics are shutting up now anyway, as Ubisoft has addressed many of the niggling issues of the first game and created the highest form of redemptionラa true contender for Game of the Year.

Assassinメs Creed 2 picks up right where the first gameメs cryptic ending leaves offラDesmond, in a lab and confused.ᅠ Almost immediately, Kristin Bell-voiced Lucy, who apparently got collagen injections in her lips since last time you saw her, breaks you out and brings you to meet your new friendsラa snobby Brit and a really excited lez who want you to save humanity by joining their little revolution.ᅠ After jacking-in to the Animus, you find yourself in the middle of the Italian Renaissance, and a street fight.ᅠ Once youメve bested your foe and learned the basics of combat (which later in the game youメll realize merely consists of mashing the ムXメ button and waiting to counter) youメll begin your tale as the likable Ezio Fiorno Rubella Prosciutto (or something really Italian).ᅠ Ezio suffers tragedy early on in the game that shines light on a conspiracy and causes him to go on a killing frenzy that ultimately guides him in to fulfilling his destiny as an assassin.ᅠ

Unraveling the conspiracy leads to branching plot lines and a story that is far superior to that of the first game.ᅠ ᅠThis time there is much more to do and the side-quests rarely feel like the same モwash, rinse, repeatヤ snore-fest as they did in the first game.ᅠ Besides the main quest-line of assassinating rival family members and church officials, youメll take-on optional missions that have you killing lower priority targets, beating up unfaithful husbands and searching the cities for ancient relics.

City exploration is familiar (treasure boxメs, viewpoints, etcナ) but renaissance Italy poses as more of a main character than the landscapes of the first game.ᅠ One of the cities, which acts as your base of operations, is even upgradeableラas are your weapons and armor.ᅠ These customization options and other RPG-ish elements add a Fable-esque feel to go along with the Hitman stealth action and Prince of Persia platforming thing already going on.ᅠ And that is really where Assassinメs Creed 2 falters a bit; itメs a Jack of all trades but a master of noneラa victim of its own ambitionラsomething that more time in development could have remedied.

So really, my only major gripe about Assassinメs Creed 2 is that it came too fast.ᅠ Ubisoft Montreal had some big ideas but many seem incomplete in their execution.ᅠ And thatメs an inherent problem with the video game industry as a whole.ᅠ The pressures for the developers to meet deadlines and skimp or cut-out features to get a game out before Christmas often results in exactly thisラand I believe a game with as much potential for greatness as Assassins Creed 2 deserves better.

Overall, Assassinメs Creed 2 is a huge step forward; and it possesses the same overall feeling that made the original a video game-escapists dream.ᅠ Many of the first gameメs follies have been corrected, but there is still plenty of room for improvement within the AC mythos.ᅠ Trust me, though, youメll be staying up late past your bedtime for a week-or-two telling yourself モjust one more questヤ until you finally succumb to your wifeメs (or momメs) pleas to get to bed.ᅠ Youメll get your moneyメs worth here.ᅠ At 20-30 hoursラdepending on how obsessive compulsive you areラAssassinメs Creed 2 is one of the few games worth $60.ᅠ And even if it doesnメt end up winning Game of the Year, I can not wait for the inevitable Assassinメs Creed 3.

Freek Score: 8/10