Assassin's Creed II is an action-adventure game set during the Renaissance in Italy. You play as Ezio Auditore, a charismatic nobleman who becomes an assassin, traveling from Florence to Forli, Tuscany, and Venice to seek revenge for his family.
Pro Intuitive stealth gameplay
The stealth mechanics feel natural and fluid in how strategic they are.
While tracking your targets, you blend in with each city's citizens or climb up to the tops of buildings to perch there and avoid getting spotted by the templar or their guards. You can either wait for the perfect opportunity to strike with a hidden blade up your sleeve that silently assassinates your target, or you can go all-out and have a sword duel with them if you'd rather take a more aggressive approach. After they're dead, you make your escape and become incognito again.
Everything goes together nicely in a way that feels satisfying.
Pro Interesting story of Assassins versus Templars
The story in Assassin's Creed II is full of intriguing ideologies and philosophies. It's a familiar tale of liberty and freedom on the Assassin side and law and order on the Templar side, but it still feels fresh. Playing as Ezio, it's up to you to assassinate certain templar targets who oppress the masses and horde power for themselves. As you take them down, you learn about their views on controlling the populace, encouraging you to question if the assassins are truly on the right path. Thankfully, the game doesn't tell you what to think, leaving you to draw your own conclusions.
Pro Impressive cities to explore with buildings to climb freely
The Italian locations of Florence, Forli, Tuscany, and Venice are beautifully done. The levels are massive for their time, with well-designed areas from the era such as towers, open plazas, and religious buildings. You can climb anything, anywhere, and run along the rooftops as much as you want. Scaling the tallest places gives you an amazing bird's eye view of the city and the mountain ranges beyond, along with a vantage point to plan out how to assassinate your targets. The realistic architecture makes Assassin's Creed II feel like a true period piece set in Renaissance Italy.
Pro Excellent soundtrack
The game's soundtrack is top notch. It has a blend of religious motifs with modern sci-fi synths, making the tracks unique. The echoing choruses and unsettling backtracks give a sense that you're on a tense, but mysterious mission to assassinate the templars in the Renaissance setting that the game takes place in. There's a measured thoughtfulness and caution that you pick up on as well, almost like the songs themselves mimic you as you stalk your targets while you blend in with the crowd. It's such a cool experimental sound that the composer, Jesper Kyd, manages to pull off well, keeping you engrossed as you play and listen.
Con Generic premise of a revenge story
The revenge story has been done to death, and Assassin's Creed II doesn't really add anything new here. From the beginning of the plot, you see some of the major cliches that often pop up in these types of tales. And while Ezio's cause is just, it's hard to care on an emotional level about his mission to kill Italy's high-level templars. But if you're not one to care too much about stories in games, then you probably won't even notice that anything's off.
Con Repetitive main missions
Ezio's mission to kill a list of templars lacks flavor and variety. The gameplay boils down to the same formula of picking a new target, going to the city where they're located, finding out information on them, and then assassinating the templar. While it's cool that you get to explore new places and interact with a variety of characters along the way, it's easy to see behind this veneer to the boring and repetitive nature of the missions. It's one of those things that can kill your enjoyment of the game.