Plat: PS3, 360, PC
Dev: Ubisoft Montreal
The story takes place in the year 2012 (the world didn't end!? or did it). In this game (and the first) the protagonist's name is Desmond Miles. In the first game Desmond is captured by a pharmaceutical company who have a machine called the "Animus" -- a chair with the capability of allowing a person to relive the experiences of an ancestor. They then force big D to enter into the mind of a very peculiar man. This man's name was Altaïr ibn La-Ahad, a member of a clan of Assassins. The entirety of the first game takes place in the holy land, during the 3rd Crusade in 1191 AD (or CE if you will).
It is revealed in the first game that Altaïr and his clan of Assassins were after a relic called the "Piece of Eden" (which as it turns out actually isn't Toast Master Butcher's Mom). Their rivals are called the "Knights of the Templar", and to bring this to home plate, the pharmaceutical company that is holding big D are modern Knights of the Templar. The end of this game reveals a Dragon Ball Z-like-plot-coupon, where there are more of these things scattered throughout the world.
So lets move on. 2012 again, the world has not ended still, and Desmond Miles is being woken up by Lucy -- his caretaker at the facility. She kidnaps him from the facility for what purpose? To plunge Big D into his ancestral memories again on her team's own version of the "Animus". How does that saying go? oh right! No rest for the weary.
No more Altaïr this time you pilot Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, a very high spirited youth, belonging to a wealthy well connected family. His story takes place during the Renaissance period of the late 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy. As stated earlier Ezio's family is well connected, and his own father has a fair bit of political power. Due to some stuff that happens Ezio ends up having to assassinate a lot, and I mean a lot of people. Most of the assassinations are political, some are personal, and others are impulsive. This time around the search for the "Piece of Eden" is put on the back burner -- not to say he's not looking for it/them, it just seems to be more of a passive search this time. His main adversaries are still the Knights of the Templar but seeing as how the crusades are over, they aren't exactly marching the streets with big swords and flags. They've become shrouded, and seem to enjoy pulling strings in the background.
With the story out of the way, let's talk gameplay yeah!
Gameplay is third person, with complete control of the camera. Very tight control of Ezio. Easy to learn combat, and very satisfying platforming. If you've played the first one you already have an idea of just how free roaming this game can be (horizontally & vertically), and that's the magic phrase in there "can be". If you want this game to be a free-roaming-gotta-catch-'em-all type game, it can be. On the other hand if you want this game to be a Just-yank-me-through-the-story type of game it'll be that too! There are far too many games that will only allow you to do one thing or the other.
There is a lot to do here; First of all in each city (there are 4 in all) there are multiple "synchronization spots" which appear on your map as a diamond with an eagle in it. These spots are there for you to knuckle-scrapingly climb your way to the top of, and update your map. Upon updating your map not only do you get to see more of the map, your character locates area's of interest and conveniently marks them on the map for you to see -- such as: • Hiding spots for when your being pursued • Beat-up events, for maiden's in distress • Codex scrolls for Leonardo Da Vinci to decipher • Tombs of obviously dead but still wealthy Assassin's of the past • Blacksmiths to purchase and repair armor or weapons • Doctors • Pigeon coups for assassination missions • and a good amount more jollification.
One of the other diversions this game has is the Auditore countryside villa. This place is your headquarters and your home. You show it some love by throwing down your hard earned moneys to renovate it's many shops (which you can then receive discounts from) and other places of value and interest. Here's why you want to do it. Money, that's right since the villa is yours whenever anyone makes money, so do you. So every 20 minutes of gameplay your little money chest gets stuffed which you then have to go collect every 3rd stuffing. Which in my opinion encourages a lot of side questing.
You attack, they die right? wrong, you attack they counter you dodge, they attack you counter they dodge, you grab 'em and they slap your hand's off them, ahh! Die you bastard! You really gotta take advantage of your surroundings, and the array of weapons, and moves in your arsenal -- including the little groups of mercenaries, thieves, and courtesans you can hire along the way.
Mmmmmm~ Oops I actually typed that. This is the stuff of glee. I enjoy the platforming of this game so much that walking around town in real life I can actually picture Ezio clambering up buildings. Anything in this game that looks climbable, is climbable. Specifically the stuff I enjoyed was the Assassin's Tombs. As soon as you find one of these places you know your in for a treat. First thing it does is show Ezio, then the camera sort of flies around the area, zooming and whirling it's way back to him. At that point it should just put a big 'ol happy face on the screen with the words "Enjoy" underneath, because that's how I felt every time I walked into one of these spots.
So the only thing that had me cursing at my poor undeserving Panasonic Plasma T.V. was also my favorite feature. Sometimes the platforming was a little bit off. As I ran across the rooftop chasing a thief so that I may lay some waste to his ass, he quickly leaps off the roof and onto a ledge, so I quickly point Mr. Alditore towards that ledge, and what? I wasn't pointed perfectly at it -- ACK! Why am I jumping off this 4 story building towards the not-so-squishy concrete! Oh god my legs, my legs! Moments like that left such a sour feeling. This didn't happen often enough to make me hate my experience but when it did, I wasn't happy.
Butter & Jam Toast
No matter how you cut this game up, it's just fun. It'll leave a warm and fuzzy feeling you get while beating some unsuspecting victim with a tube-sock full of soap (for details on that watch S. Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket")