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TGS 09: Why Assassin's Creed II is GTA, Hitman and Arkham Asylum in one stealthy package

The first Assassin’s Creed was an incredible sensory experience. So you’ll be glad to know the slack-jawed awe that comes with staring at massive cityscapes from a lofty tower is back with a vengeance. Better yet, from our hands-on with the upcoming Tokyo Game Show demo, it’s clear Ubisoft Montreal has really been working on the assassinations. And the murdering antics now rival Metal Gear and Hitman for thoughtful stealthy shenanigans.

The plot bit

Set in Renaissance era Italy, you control Ezio Auditore di Firenze (phew). Once a nobleman, he turns to professional people whacking in order to avenge the death of his dad. Exhausting names aside, the game still involves taking on hits from various guilds and whacking powerful figures. Combat and kills remain much the same. So you’ll still be offing people with concealed blades while looking all ‘emo’ in a brooding hood.

Plunging axes into guards’ feet – one of the most wince-inducing new moves – greedily claims its fair chunk of awesome. But it’s the much improved stealth that could well make this one of the games of 2009.

Like Agent 47, you can kill your targets without ever being seen

Despite awarding it aperfect ten, the hits in the first game could feel clumsy. Built up as elaborate set pieces, reaching your target usually ended in a clusterf*ck of stabbing everything in sight. Thankfully, Ezio has been taking tips from Hitman’s sociopathic slap head. And, just like nailing a silent assassin rating in Agent 47’s wet work ‘em up, murders can now be planned and executed with thoughtful precision.

We see this for ourselves in the demo, when we reach a heavily guarded church where our target Emilo Barbagio is hiding. Silently skulking from the courtyard’s rafters, we follow the evil doer and his bodyguard. Once isolated, we strike with a gruesome new move that sees us plunge twin blades into both men’s jugulars simultaneously. It’s brutal, clinical and, best of all, witness-free.