What began as a Prince of Persia project, the original Assassin’s Creed quickly became its own game. Allowing players to move freely around three cities set in 1109 during the Third Crusade in the Holy Land, Assassin’s Creed followed Altair, a member of the Assassin Brotherhood, in his search for the mysterious "Piece of Eden" before the Knights Templar discover it.
Two years after Assassin’s Creed launched, Assassin’s Creed II released to widespread acclaim. Set during the Italian Renaissance in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the sequel follows Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a nobleman-turned-Assassin after the murder of his father and brothers. On his quest to avenge his family Ezio uncovers a centuries long war between the Knights Templar and Assassins. Just like its predecessor, Assassin’s Creed II not only follows Ezio, but his descendant Desmond Miles set in 2012 as he flees the Knights Templar’s in his search for the Apple of Eden long hidden by his ancestor.
Assassin’s Creed II follows its predecessor by allowing players to explore a masterful recreation of Italy spanning five different regions — Venice, Florence, Forli, San Gimignano, and the Tuscan countryside. Along with the new setting Ubisoft Montreal added its own economic system, letting players to buy and renovate properties. Ezio is able to buy and sell medicine, poison, weapons, and dyes for their clothing. By completing these renovations Ezio generates income that he can then use to upgrade his equipment and buy paintings to decorate his family’s villa, located in Monteriggioni.
Along with the economic system Ubisoft added a plethora of new features. Unlike the original, Assassin’s Creed II allows Ezio to swim as well as hide in the water from perusing guards. Players were also allowed to hire mercenaries, courtesans, or thieves scattered throughout the cities. These groups would then aid Ezio by distracting or starting fights with guards. Ezio would also have the ability to hide bodies in haystacks and loot them for money.
Players would run into historical figures throughout game that will aid or deceive Ezio on his quest. One such figure, Leonardo da Vinci, becomes a loyal friend and aid to the Italian nobleman. Creating new weapons and tools for Ezio to use through schematics "Codex pages" left by Altair, Da Vinci would create dual hidden blades, allowing Ezio to stealthily kill two guards at once and a hidden single shot pistol. Combat was another aspect of the game that Ubisoft Montreal worked on. Giving players the ability to pick up weapons dropped by enemies, Ezio was able to not only wield a sword but maces, axes, and cutlasses became part of the arsenal too, opening up new strategies for dealing with foes. Gamers were also able to disarm opponents when counter-attacking unarmed, allowing Ezio to steal his enemy’s weapon and use it to instantly kill them.
Assassin’s Creed II has an average Metacritc score of 91/100. The game has won multiple "Game of the Year" awards from major publications and has sold over 10 million units. PSU gave Assassin’s Creed II a 9.0 with an Avg. user score of 8.2.
What started off as another Prince of Persia installment turned into one of Ubisoft’s most successful franchises spanning seven games And, with an eighth installment coming to current and next-generation consoles, it’s easy to see that the franchise is still going strong. Creating some of the most awe-inspiring locations, a simple yet complex battle system and continued innovations, the Assassin’s Creed franchise continues to expand and ask players, what time period will Ubisoft send us to next.
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