by Davneet Minhas
previewed on PC
Investigate then Assassinate
Eschewing the rigid and repetitive investigation followed by assassination formula from the first game, Assassin’s Creed II provides a much more dynamic mission structure. In order to complete a main assassination, Ezio has to accomplish a number of specific and interconnected objectives. A large part of these small objectives involve developing relationships with the previously mentioned underworld factions. Completing a mission for the thieves results in them lighting fires throughout Venice, creating the hot air necessary for da Vinci’s glider. Completing another mission results in information on how best to approach a target.
Assassin’s Creed II will also feature a number of optional side missions and random events. Ezio can, for example, become Lorenzo de Medici’s personal assassin, eliminating various targets for monetary gain. Or be victimized by a pickpocket, requiring him to drop the current mission and give chase. He will also have the option of exploring the interiors of several famous landmarks. Providing a more linear experience, these secret locations test your platforming and puzzle-solving skills, and result in additional rewards such as story elements and items.
In conjunction with the mission structure, Assassin’s Creed II features a notoriety meter. Depending on the actions that Ezio performs, his notoriety in the current district or city can increase. Once the notoriety meter has reached 100%, guards will actively search for Ezio, instantly recognizing and chasing him. In turn, he can reduce his notoriety by performing certain objectives, including bribing officials, tearing down wanted posters, and assassinating witnesses of his infamous deeds.
Another new feature is the comprehensive economic system. With money that is either earned or stolen, Ezio can visit various types of shops. He can of course purchase armor and weapons from blacksmiths and buy pouches from tailors to carry more throwing knives or medicines. In a solely cosmetic endeavor, he can even change his appearance by purchasing dyes for his clothing, allowing for a red, green, or yellow assassin, instead of the standard white.
Outside of shops, Ezio can spend money to hire mercenaries, prostitutes, and thieves. Mercenaries will attack guards upon request, either aiding Ezio in a fight or allowing him to slip past unnoticed. Prostitutes can be hired to distract guards or provide cover. Thieves can even follow Ezio onto rooftops, and serve as a distraction for guards from a different vantage point.
Ubisoft has certainly placed an emphasis on diversity in developing this game. Building upon the innovative fundamentals that made the original game such a hit, Assassin’s Creed II promises more choice and less repetition from combat to objectives to customization. It is a formula that certainly has us eagerly anticipating Ubisoft’s title.