Back in 2007, when the term “next-gen” was still being used liberally to describe the kinds of games that gamers wanted and weren’t getting (apparently) Assassin’s Creed was one of the first to show us what our current machines are truly capable of, and what kind of new games can be made with a little creative thinking. You can argue about some of the game’s faults: its repetitive nature and limited scope – but you simply cannot dispute its merits: a great control scheme, a new take on the stealth genre, and one of the most compelling and twisted sci-fi stories ever seen in a videogame.
That’s why, despite the first game’s drawbacks, fans have been eagerly awaiting the release of Assassin’s Creed 2. The game picks up right where the first game ended – and it starts off with a bang. Players are thrust into the role of Desmond Miles: the protagonist from the first game in whose mind we took on the role of Altair. He’s still imprisoned in the Abstergo building, but is busted out by Lucy and taken to a secret base – the lair of the modern-day descendants of the Assassins. There he is, strapped into their version of the Animus (the machine which lets him relive his genetic memories) and told that he must learn the skills of another one of his ancestors, an Italian man named Ezio, in order to help his current Assassin brethren stop the modern-day Knights Templar organisation from executing their schemes.
This is achieved via the “bleeding effect”, a complicated phenomenon in which users of the Animus can acquire the skills and traits possessed by their ancestors while viewing their genetic memories. This time, rather than being placed in the role of an experienced and skilled Assassin like Altair, Desmond starts in Ezio’s youth. Ezio is a lusty young man with quick fists and a love for adventure and trouble, but he’s no killer – not at first. Ezio’s days of making deliveries for his father, picking fights with other young noblemen, and climbing into young ladies’ bedroom windows for steamy encounters, come to an abrupt end when his father and brother are falsely accused of conspiring against the government of their home city, Florence, and are executed. Determined to prove his father’s innocence and take revenge, Ezio follows clues which eventually lead him to uncover his father’s secret life as an Assassin and to take up his father’s mantle in his quest to thwart the Knights Templar’s devious machinations.