First Impressions: Assassin’s Creed 2
November 24, 2009
It is a little ironic that a series in which the major currency is stealth, silent death and skulking in shadows that Assassin’s Creed 2 has you spend the first hour controlling Desmond (possibly the only character called Desmond in recent videogaming history, with good reason) through a hurried pell-mell dash and a ham-fisted, awkward brawl with a gaggle of security guards. Following closely on this dichotomy’s heels is the first interaction with our real protagonist, Ezio Auditore de Fireze, in a frankly pointless exercise in moving his limbs shortly after his birth. I’ll make no bones about it; the first hour of the game, which essentially comprises of a whirlwind tutorial to familiarise yourself with the awkward control mechanics, is pretty awful.
The first hour of the game proper, which has you guide Ezio through a series of errands, essentially begins as a series of fetch-quests for your family; feeling initially like a cross between Grand Theft Auto and World of Warcraft. Couched in this mechanic, however, are seeds of narrative and character development that begin to hint at the scope of thistitle. The voice acting and script are generally of a high quality, even if the sudden enunciation of the word ‘vaginas’ (a videogaming first?) immediately raises an eyebrow.
Hints of the complexity and breadth of the game become clear throughout these initial missions, as collectibles such as chests, feathers, viewpoints and glyphs will ensure that this title is tantamount to a hoarder’s wet dream. I’d be surprised if Trophies/Achievements were not attached to the successful completion of all of these meta-tasks. The continuous unlocking of different game modes is slightly less welcome – the map becomes a mess of icons very early on, offering a plethora of distracting side-quests at a time when they are needed least. A focus on the main narrative and central mechanic would serve the player better, with these added attractions thrown in later when attention spans inevitably begin to wane.
The retrieval of the assassin’s garb begins to heighten the excitement, and it is at this point where I’m currently saved, ready to immerse myself more fully into a world which is admittedly very colourful with life. If the game ditches the awkward pacing of its introduction and I can find myself grappling successfully with the janky control mechanics, I’m hoping the game’s myraid secrets can hold my attention throughout the Christmas period to the spate of big releases in early 2010.