Yet another excellent video game in what has proved to be a vintage year, in fact this latest Assassin’s Creed has probably slipped through the crowd unnoticed into place behind the magnificent Red Dead Redemption and knifed Fallout New Vegas in the back to claim second position in my favouritest games of the year.
The First Assassin’s Creed looked brilliant in concept – a Crusader States setting, free-form play involving free-running, stealth, and killing folk in a variety of ways. But it proved to be hugely flawed and really quite boring. The second one, moving the action forward in time to Renaissance Italy was way, way better, though, and this direct sequel, shifting the action from Florence and Venice to Rome, is better yet.
The world is just so beautifully detailed, convincing and concrete, the engine so slick and robust. Much though I love Fallout Vegas, it can look a bit silly and creaky at times. Like when the President of the NCR comes on a visit, and is greeted by a cheering crowd of about a dozen guys, and even that makes the whole game slow down to an unmanageable crawl. In Assassin’s Creed you can not only see the city itself stretching off into beautifully realised far distance beneath a sky like a renaissance painting, but the whole place is absolutely crawling with varied life, with officious guards, bumbling labourers, bustling merchants, and the crowds react really quite convincingly to your actions. The detailed and convincing way in which the main character moves and interacts with his surroundings is also a wonder to behold – I can only think of Uncharted 2 that comes close in this respect, and that’s a much smaller and more linear game world. It’s an amazing technical achievement, and one that allows for as smooth and slick a gaming experience as I can think of.
OK, so there are a couple of teensy liberties taken with the history (ahem) and the modern-day framing story still seems pretty damn unconvincing and unnecessary (they seem to be aiming at the carefree banter of Uncharted here and missing quite badly), but overall it’s hard to fault. Thre’s a huge variety of gameplay and a mass of side quests and challenges to do, fed through in a way that makes you want to investigate, as well as the new opportunity to train your own lethal squad of assassins, and call them forth in support at the wave of a hand. Quality.
9 comments so far
I am way behind on games but having just finished Uncharted 2 (and Arkham Asylum before that) have been looking at reviews for this and similar stuff recently.
Think I know what I will be spending my Xmas gift vouchers on then (after The Heroes, of course).
Keep up the good work, put down the games now and get back to your writing. Who let you off the chain anyhow!!
I think you may be the first author I enjoy that has openly discussed video games. I’m actually just now getting around to ACII (I usually wait 6-12 months for a game before getting it – lower price, patches released, downloadable content ironed out and released, etc.), and it is definitely an improvement over the first, though I did like the first game despite its many flaws.
Thanks for sharing your opinion on Brotherhood. I am usnure if I want to move onto that after AC2 since it seems more incremental an improvement over the last, but it seems that it is worth it based on the opinions of those who’ve played it.
Spot on with the ‘sub-Uncharted banter’. The game’s script isn’t anything to use as evidence in the ‘Game Is Artz’ argument (shudder) but everything set in the past works well enough and I can’t recall any moments where I cringed or was seriously paranoid my mum would walk in and mock the game (I’m looking at you Final Fantasy X Laughing Scene), but the modern day scenes were awful. There’s absolutely nothing natural about it; everything feels so forced and it’s terribly out of place. If the series is building up to a finale where the vast majority of the game will be modern day then the developers have an insurmountable task ahead of them making these people interesting and, even more difficult, likeable.
I’m working my way through RDR right now. I decided to play an “evil” character. Which involves me saving anyone needing saving and then killing them when paid. Pretty much any time I come near a settlement I’m in a gun fight with the local sheriff.
The last two brotherhoods are on my list. Thanks for the review.
I recently picked up the book Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance from a charity shop and decided to give it a go..
Oh what a stinker , possibly the most awful book I have ever read ( I wont mention the authors name – bless him ).
Anyone recommend something good to read while I wait for Heroes. ( please be aware I may mock you if I think your recommendation is poor )
I hated the first Assassin’s Creed, I thought the combat was clunky as hell. I just couldn’t get into it. From what I’ve heard the story sounds a little ridiculous too. I haven’t been impressed with any games this year (other than iPhone games). I hate forking out $60 for 4 hours of gameplay. Call of Duty: Black Ops was decent enough, if a little too linear. I’m excited or Crysis 2 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution next year.
@Eddwigg, you should check out John Dies at the End. It’s not fantasy or anything but it was my favorite book of the year. It’s hilarious and creepy and has some action and suspense a plenty. You won’t regret reading it.
Cheers Nick , not an easy book to find ( cheap ) but have put it at the top of my to find list. It gets great reviews on Amazon. Go on Joe treat yourself for Xmas.
Got fed up with trying to win in the damn get the flag mini game that I could never win and get beyond in Assassin’s Creed 2 (anyone got a hint here?) Got a backlog of games I am trying to get through including Red Dead Redemption and Uncharted 2 as well as Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce (I can hear you laughing at the back, stop that at once). Might get round to AC Brotherhood by next summer at the rate I am going at, curse my stupid job for taking up too much time…
Mike, when I’ve gotten stuck in AC2 I’ve usually referred to YouTube, where some very skillled players show you how it’s done.