Assassin's Creed II: Beginner's strategy guide

Even for those who played through the first game there’s a dizzying amount of things to do in Assassin’s Creed II. With so many baddies to slaughter, locations to visit, people to meet and things to collect you could be left reeling. But fear not brave, elaborately garbed would-be assassins for we have put together a beginner’s guide to help you get through the first section of the game…

The main quest is a good whack longer than your average modern action game. Plus once you add in the collecting of all the hidden bits (which we seriously recommend you find) and you’re looking at over 30 hours. Finding the glyphs and solving the strange, slightly sinister and increasingly tricky puzzles can become a compulsion. You have been warned. The main quest is never overly tricky but keeping track of all the hidden stuff, let alone finding it, could leave you reeling. Luckily, we’ve got detailed guides for finding everyglyph and statuette, as well as everyfeather and treasure.

There are various tactics you can employ to lose the heat in Assassin’s Creed II. Simply legging it away from guards is the simplest but it’s also the least satisfying and arguably the coward’s way out. Master the techniques below to really impress…

1) Ezio can blend into crowds with ease. Simply approach a group and stand with them to trigger a weird graphical effect courtesy of the Animus. So long as Ezio appears grayed out, he’ll be invisible to guards no matter how alert they are.

2) You can also blend into moving groups of people. The same rules apply: so long as you appear grayish in color you’re safe. You can even pickpocket those you’re hiding amongst – just don’t hang around to be discovered.

3) Sitting beside people on benches is also a good way to take the heat off. It’s especially handy when separated from a group as you can wait in safety for another to come along before joining them and heading on your way.

4) A clever tactic to remember when a group isn’t heading in the direction you want is to toss a few coins into the street (select your money from the radial menu). Once the cash hits the cobbles the crowds will race to pick ’em up – even the guards themselves.

5) You’ll also need to keep an eye on how notorious you become. Basically every time the guards chase you your infamy rises. You can lower it again by bribing notable citizens, tearing down wanted posters and killing corrupt officials.

6) Courtesans can be employed to walk along with you for a small fee. Using them means you'll have a group who will walk where you want providing the perfect movable cover. They can also be commanded to distract targeted guards.

Money plays a big part in the game. Not only can it be used to bribe or distract citizens, it can also be used to open up the game world, make combat easier and even pimp up your villa.

1) Your first purchase should be a treasure map. They're widely available from art merchants for a reasonable price and will point you in the direction of hidden chests. Even if you just find a few, the map pays for itself in no time at all.

2) Ezio is pretty vulnerable at first so you should make sure your second purchase is some armor. There are lots of different pieces and types to choose from and most of them will add a good chunk or two to your health.

3) It’s also a good idea to invest in a medicine pouch. Initially you can carry five phials but constantly trekking back to a street doctor for a top up can be a pain in the ass(assin).

4) You can also buy dyes to alter Ezio’s appearance even more. There are several colors and hues to choose from, from stylish crimson to classic assassin white. It doesn’t help you blend in at all, mind.