top of that, AC2 was host to one of the most richly detailed worlds
we've ever had the pleasure of exploring. Virtually recreated cities
such as Venice and Florence were populated with lifelike NPCs whose
diversity far surpassed that of the NPCs in the original. You could even
deal with guards in new ways thanks to hirable groups of mercenaries,
thieves, and courtesans, and these elements together allowed the
franchise's promise of social stealth to become fully realized. Blending
in with a crowd in AC2 was a far less frustrating experience than
trying to blend in with sparse groups of monks dressed in Altair-esque
outfits in its predecessor.
mere act of climbing buildings was more enjoyable, too, thanks to a
noticeable increase in scaling speed. Ascending structures no longer
meant hitting the climb button and walking away to make a sandwich--this
also made hunting collectibles less of a chore. In fact, some--the
hidden glyphs that could only be seen using Ezio's Eagle Vision--even
provided teasing glimpses of the story's sci-fi side, propelling a
desire to find each and every one. What's more, many buildings in the
game were modeled after places that actually existed. Visiting these was
rewarding in its own right, but, much to the delight of Renaissance
test-takers everywhere, an in-game historical database had us soaking up
tons of little factoids about them (as well as key historical figures),
which enriched the experience as a whole.
too, did AC2's economy, an addition that allowed players to loot bodies
while providing them with in-game currency through the rebuilding of
Monteriggioni, a countryside villa belonging to the Auditore family.
This upgradable hideout became Ezio's equivalent of a Batcave. All of
the weapons you had acquired were housed in a display room; renovating
shops scored discounts on equipment and had a noticeable effect on the
way the villa looked, as well as the sort of people that populated it.
Most importantly, Monteriggioni became a showcase of everything
Ezio--and you as the player--had accomplished. It was both an enjoyable
distraction and a constant reminder of just how much you'd risen from
the proverbial ashes.
came that crazy left-field ending. It took such a jeering sci-fi turn
that everyone who finished the game likely murmured WTF in unison with
Desmond's closing statement (hint: it consists of those same words).
While some didn't particularly care for the way AC2 slapped them upside
the head with a cliffhanger, it left many players feverishly
anticipating the next game in the series--so much so that Ezio got two
more major outings: Brotherhood and Revelations, both of which were pretty darn good.
like Assassin’s Creed II--ones that so masterfully combine storytelling
and engaging interaction--are a rare breed that deserve celebration.
From its unforgettable story and protagonist to its combat and
world-building tweaks, it bested the original in every regard, even
bringing a layer of freshness to the series with the inclusion of an
economy. It's a shining example of the level of quality that all
games--sequel or not--should strive to achieve. Now the question
remains: Can Assassin's Creed III surpass the bar set by its younger sibling?
"Why _____ is one of the greatest games ever made" is a weekly feature that goes through GamesRadar's list of the 100 best games of all time and highlights different titles, explaining why they're on the list, what makes them so amazing, and why we love them so much.