Ubisoft Revives Old Games

Assassin’s Creed II is more than a game, it's a glimpse into history

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Ezio Auditore, about to finish his foe, Assassins Creed II.

What would you do with a machine that let you play with the past? For Desmond Miles, his mission is to do just that, peering into the history of his ancestors for clues to prevent a growing threat in the modern world.

Stepping into the role of Ezio Auditore, an Italian member of the Assassin Guild from the early 1400s, you experience the thrill of leaping across rooftops, quickly scaling immense towers, climbing grand churches and working closely with Leonardo da Vinci to craft unique inventions. You can expect to find much more than that in the amazing world of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed II.

One of my all-time favorite video games, I certainly found myself truly immersed in its world. Set in the Renaissance age of Italy, this game flawlessly portrays an original narrative over an accurate historical setting.

Ezio Auditore, about to finish his foe, Assassins Creed II.

Though not needed to enjoy the experience of this game, some background is essential to understanding the deeper motives of both the protagonists and antagonists.

In the modern world, an evil organization from the Renaissance known as the Templars, is being revived from history and is taking over from under the radar. The only way they can be stopped is for Desmond Miles and his team to locate how they were defeated in the past, by the assassin, Ezio Auditore.

Switching to the role of Ezio, the player takes on the task of uncovering the many leaders of the power-hungry nobles and religious authorities, in order to get closer to locating and destroying the head of the Templars. The player then follows the story of Ezio on his mission to recovering a powerful artifact that can be used to stop the Templars once and for all.

New Features

While Assassin’s Creed II closely follows the style of the previous games, it absolutely has some improvements and new additions with regard to gameplay. Along with a new addition to the storyline and more lore uncovered from the worldbuilding of Ubisoft’s development team, there are many unique features that make playing this game much more exciting.

One of the best additions to Assassins Creed II is your own buildable base set in Monteriggioni, Italy. Ezio gains the position of leader of a sizable, fortified town, and you as the player get to build it up as Ezio gains more money and knowledge. On top of that, new weapons like poison, pistols, and a wide selection of historically accurate blades find their way into the blacksmiths and shops of Italy. Ubisoft certainly did a great job of improving on the last game with original ideas and unique gameplay features.

The Characters

The main character of this series shifts depending on whose point of view you take at the time. You begin the game as Desmond Miles, a young man who has been hired by the company Abstergo to use a device called the Animus to explore the past. After many experiements by this corporation, Desmond is finally able to connect with his ancestors’ history, but not without a few side effects that come into play later.

Delving into the past, your point of view switches from Desmond’s modern perspective to the legendary assassin, Ezio Auditore. After his wealthy family was betrayed by a former ally, Ezio is forced to turn to the path of the assassin, working for the cause of freedom. The goal of both Desmond and Ezio is to stop the rise of the Templars, an organization whose goal is control, believing that humanity is too weak to maintain order on its own. Ezio did his part in quashing the Templars in the past, as the player views through their participation in the Animus, and Desmond must take up his duty to do the same in the present-day.

A very essential part of the series is the inclusion of real, historical figures, who play key roles in developing the story. For instance, Leonardo da Vinci, Nicolaus Copernicus, and Nicolás Machiavelli play prominent roles in aiding the assassins with their political connections and by supplying Ezio with incredible inventions. Ezio is able to build up an incredibly well-rounded group to aid him in taking down his foes.

Additionally, the theme of family is very important to Ezio, as he keeps his sister, Maria Auditore; his uncle, Mario Auditore; and his mother close, and they become very important to helping the cause of the assassins. Another great aspect about the Assassin’s Creed series is the excellent development of the character arcs of the villains.

The World

With every successful mission, Ezio learns a little more about his adversaries’ motivations and tactics. This allows one quest to lead smoothly into the next, creating a dynamic storyline, yet still keeping the feel of an open-world sandbox. On Desmond’s end of the narrative, he works in hiding with a small team, who rescued him from Abstergo. Lucy Stillman, Shaun Hastings, and Rebecca Crane play an essential part in keeping Desmond safe while he explores the past.

The protagonist, Ezio Auditore, in his signature pose. The Ezio Collection, Assassin’s Creed II

The world of Assassin’s Creed is both marvelous and massive. Despite being set across multiple fully-developed Italian cities, Ubisoft managed to fit so much attention to detail in every aspect of the game.

Even though this game is ten years old, I am still impressed by the amazing graphics. From sweeping shots of Italian landscape to dynamic action-shots, the team that worked on this game did an incredible job. Another key feature of the series is the freedom that it gives you as a player to explore and learn about the world. The story is non-restrictive, allowing you to explore the world at your own pace without bothering too much on a focused, linear story. In this world, the player can go wherever their heart desires.

On top of that, the world is expanded through Desmond’s point of view, taking the player out of the action every so often from the craziness of an assassin’s life. Even though the game is quite old now, being released for Ps3 and Xbox 360 in 2009, and PC in 2010, it has been revived through a rerelease package for PS4 and XBOX One in 2018, bringing this game and its two sequels back in the spotlight.

Whether you are interested in history, adventure, or just having fun, this game is sure to catch your attention. Many hours can be put into this game and the rest in the series, just because of how much detail and thought is placed in every corner of the world. Even after completing every quest, the world is still yours to explore, with far more secrets yet to be discovered. Out of the many video games that I have played, the Assassin’s Creed series has proven to be one of the greatest, excelling in world-building, game play, accessibility, and visuals.