It’s a little weird to be completing Assassin’s Creed II in 2015 when there are now a bajillion more entries in the series, some of which are universally praised and others, such as Assassin’s Creed III, are pretty much loathed. My storied history for this series created by a multicultural team of various religious faiths and beliefs has been playing Assassin’s Creed, then skipping right to Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and now finally go back to see Assassin’s Creed II‘s lengthy credits roll. I’ve been dabbling at the game piecemeal over the last few months, but was driven to see it off my “still playing” list since getting wind of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag being a freebie for Xbox 360 users at the end of this month. Frustratingly, that means I’ll be skipping two more games in the “as released by Ubisoft” timeline, but neither of them sound highly recommended.
Anyways, Assassin’s Creed II–it’s pretty good. It’s definitely better than the original Assassin’s Creed game, though I fuzzily remember very little from that original outing save for frustrating climbing, annoying collectibles, and repetitive missions. Hey, wait. Some of that junk is still here in this one. Hmm, I guess it is the other elements that make the game stand a few rooftops higher, such as more nuanced and engaging combat, better climbing mechanics, and building up your home base with shops, paintings, and loot to earn some sweet coin. Plus, the locations you visit are more interesting to explore, and stabbing dudes from on a horse is never boring though I still prefer smoke bombing and making a hasty exit.
I won’t really go into too much story stuff, as the story in the Assassin’s Creed series–both in and outside the Animus–has never really interested me. I’m more into the exploring and climbing of buildings and running from rooftop to rooftop, with the occasional cool-looking assassination. Naturally, I did all the tombs as fast as I could, as the platforming puzzles, while frustrating and unclear in spots, are really the most enjoyable aspect to me. I will always hate tailing missions and chase missions, which thankfully only made up a small portion of the game. I prefer going from point A to point B and stabbing a dude in the neck, and I’m sorry if that concerns you. At least now I understand why it felt like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood picked up immediately after the conclusion of the previous game–that’s because it did.
Alas, come the end, I only found…42 of 100 feathers. I will not be going back to find the remainder of the flags. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood spoiled me with its ability to purchase maps of flag locations–though I still never went out and grabbed them all–but here you have only your ears and eyes to guide you on your collecting path. They tinkle and sparkle, but that’s not enough. No thanks. That means I will also miss out on the Auditore cape, which is unlocked for finding all the feathers. One last task for me to handle before deleting the game from my Xbox 360’s hard-drive is finding the remainder of the hidden symbols on select buildings, and I suspect I might grab a feather or two along the way, but not enough to finish the side quest.
Lastly, I do enjoy end credits sequences where you, the player, are still involved in some way. One standout favorite is shooting asteroids with developers’ faces and names on them in Vanquish to add to your final score tally. While not as cool as that, the end credits sequence in Assassin’s Creed II has you running around as Desmond outside the Animus as he and others try to escape the modern-day Templars. It’s more of the same from the main gameplay, but it is fun to see the names of the game’s creators scroll by as you punch, counter, and run from danger.
Well, I’ll be back to my assassinating ways very soon once Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag becomes free for Gold users at the end of April. Until then, the rest is up to me.