Assassin's Creed II Preview
Sony’s E3 press conference included plenty of big-name titles and several mouth-watering presentations, and one of them was Assassin’s Creed II. Ubisoft was on hand to show off a gameplay presentation and not only were we sufficiently impressed, we combined it with previous information and concluded that ACII is gonna be a masterpiece. You will once again play as Desmond, the modern-age descendent of one of history’s most effective assassins. However, as most of you already know, Altair is gone and you will step into the highly capable body of Ezio, who lives in Venice in 1486 and doesn’t begin his quest as a highly sought-after assassin. Instead, he embarks on a mission of vengeance after his family becomes embroiled in a vicious conspiracy that is bound to echo across the ripples of time. Now, from what we just saw in that E3 video, the player will have far more options; Ubisoft said they wanted the focus to be on diversity and variety for this sequel, and that footage validates such an encouraging statement. We’ll get you the video soon, but for now, more on ACII.
First off, many of those tedious tasks assigned to Atair in the original AC will disappear; you will no longer need to assemble the same three pieces of Intel in order to finally approach your target. In this hotly anticipated sequel, Ezio is first seen hunting Carlo Grimalde, who has much power and influence in the sprawling, beautiful city of Venice. Instead of heading to the “assigner” of the mission, then setting out to perform a certain set of tasks and maneuvers, you will gather the information as you go in a more fluid and linear format. Now, as far as the gameplay is concerned, you’ve probably already heard about some of the new changes and enhancements. While the climbing mechanics remain mostly unchanged, you can still perform far more in the way of acrobatic sequences, and oh yeah, there will be a grand total of 30 weapons in the game! Furthermore, we can expect even more of those amazingly fluid animations we enjoyed in the original, and it will be more of a challenge to stay hidden. For instance, there’s a new AI archetype known as “The Seeker” that won’t let you get away easily…
And as one might expect, stealth once again plays an important role. However, you always do have the option of doing something drastic, provided you understand that Ezio may not survive the ensuing fallout. The low-profile kills happen from the shadows; maybe you flung a dagger without being seen, or you simply dropped silently behind the target and finished him quickly, then moved on to seamlessly blend into the crowd. Best of all, Ezio has two hidden blades beneath his cloak, so he can easily take out a pair of enemies from behind, although we have to remember that Ubisoft really is ramping up the AI in this one. We didn’t see much of this upgraded opposition intelligence in the E3 demo, but we did see a flying machine invented by the one and only Leonardo da Vinci. It appears that Ezio is good friends with the master inventor, and Leonardo left a little gift atop one of the rooftops: a flying machine! Ezio grabbed it and soared towards Grimalde’s garish place of residence, having to deal with flaming arrows the whole way.
This is just one example of some of the new stuff we can expect to see in ACII. For our part, we’re most interested in all the new weapons and the different enemy types. Beyond the regular guards, Ezio will have to deal with those Seekers as well as other brute-like enemies. You’ll really need to employ every last one of your skills in order to effectively deal with them all; don’t think for a second that a haystack is the ultimate safe zone any longer. Those Seekers can snatch you right outta there, and then you’re in for it! But hey, if the developers ramped up the intelligence level of your enemies, shouldn’t the hero have new gifts, too? Well, besides all those new weapons and increased acrobatic attacks, he’ll also have the insanely cool ability to kill from his hiding spaces. So if you’re in danger of being found out by a Seeker, you can prepare a nasty surprise for the smarty pants who knows to check the routine hiding spots…how cool is that? We can already picture a mental tug-of-war going on throughout this adventure, and we absolutely can’t wait to get started. And one last thing: unlike the water-fearing Altair, Ezio can actually swim.
Assassin’s Creed II has a release date of November 17, which means it launches one week after the blockbuster that will be Modern Warfare 2. But we have super high expectations for ACII, and after seeing that demonstration at E3 today…well, damn. We just had to whip up this new preview for ya. :)
6/2/2009 Ben Dutka