“Assassins Creed 2” flickr photo by anna1395 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Assassin’s Creed 2: Released November 17, 2009 – Two years after AC1’s release! One of my favorite parts to this game wasn’t a game at all. A couple weeks before its release, Ubisoft put out a three episode series featuring characters from the game in a sort of prequel situation. You can watch it on YouTube in its entirety. The CG may be a little outdated, but I own it on DVD, so there’s that… (I’m in it for the story!)

So… Assassin’s Creed 2… Walk with me as I recap the trailer from E3 (you can watch THAT video here)… If you don’t remember this trailer, my following thoughts aren’t going to make much sense, so I suggest reliving it if you need to! …And, you know, I don’t know if watching it before, after, or DURING my little commentary on it is best… you DECIDE!

     1486, Venice, Italy. Wow, this looks beautiful and I’ve always loved fireworks… Who is paying these ladies of the night? And for what?! Oh wow, these faces look awesome… Getting dizzy…. Somethings gonna happen to this guy… yep. Wow this looks beautiful! All the colors even though it’s night time (Remembers Jerusalem). Who is this new cheeky assassin? You saw that smile! The fighting and then the head tilt taking mercy on the downed pawn. Goodness I hope I get to kill people with their own weapons. OH the humiliation! Holy cow this guy has upper body strength. Not only does he pull himself up with an inch or so of fingertip grip, he then proceeds to climb the wall AFTER that catch. This is gonna be awesome! Oh this rich guy thinks he’s got himself all covered… big man in control here! Why is he walking into the alley, that’s never a good move… And there’s our boy. Woah! DUDE just drops like 40 feet, no broken legs! (I counted three stories if we were on the ground in that one shot.) That’s superhero stuff, right there. Reveal the hidden blade (YEEUS). Oh no, the rich guy is talking about my boy’s madre… you know he’s dead. What is this? A wrist cannon?! Oh yeah, all those city doves got spoooked! The guards don’t even move?? Definitely there for their paychecks… Signore fancy pants falls back and his “feen poshleen” face SHATTERS. You know he’s not gonna be in Assassin’s Creed 3. (“Exclusive in-game bonus map only with pre-order at GameStop” – Oh you bet I got me the collector’s edition of this baby!)

Who watches that trailer after all the fun and hype from the first installment and doesn’t yip with giddy excitement? I know I did!

Also, I have a LOT of links (they’ll be purple) for references scattered around the article… YouTube, Wikipedia, and Google searches even, SO, if you want more info, there ya go… Just make sure you come back to finish up!

 

THE STORY

     So we’re introduced, from the trailer, to a new setting and a new assassin: Renaissance Italy and Ezio Auditore da Firenze – When family names were too common so you needed to tell the world your location as well. “Yeah, we’re the Paglianos from Poughkeepsie, NOT the Paglianos in Edison… get outa here!” But speaking of Firenze, because of this game, my brain doesn’t think of Florence, Italy as Florence, I call it Firenze… almost like how it took me about a year and a half to realize Göteborg WAS Gothenburg… Why have all these different names?! Searching “Göteborg” pulls up Gothenburg stuff!! I digress…

     New setting, new character to play as, same Desmond Miles, and Lucy has something different with her face… (it’s the new engine). The game boots up and you’re shown a recap of the last episode from Desmond. You wake up in your room looking at all the crazy blood smears you found on the wall in AC1. Lucy is in a bit of a rush to get you out of Abstergo, which makes sense because they’re an evil corporation, (just a note: not all corporations are evil but Abstergo definitely takes the cake!)… but she sticks you in the Animus to download some data and take a memory core.

     Once loaded into THE MACHINE, we’re introduced to Mama and Papa Auditore and their little baby. “Tu sei un Auditore. Sei un combattente. Perciò combatti! (You are an Auditore. You are a fighter. So fight!)” Freaking love this line as a father and as a son. Nothing like this experience, I gotta say… passing your name and passion onto the next generation… Foreshadowing?… Although holding the messy baby in your fancy clothes might be a little gross… hooray for scrubs! BUT, after the pep-talk from your padre, you’re then prompted to punch, kick, and headbutt; move those little baby limbs! COMPELLING GAMEPLAY! …I jest, of course. This game is beautiful and sets up a story that is SO deep and compelling, it takes three full games to tie it off!

     Lucy pulls you out of the Animus after the “Simba!” trope and she doesn’t seem to care at ALL about your physical state. She helps you escape, beating two guards with their own weapons (showing the player, again, this is how you fight). Lucy is no longer the simple office assistant she was during the majority of AC1, no longer sporting the professional button up and skirt, she’s wearing a sleeveless shirt and her butt-kickin jeans! She DESTROYS a couple guards… Turns out that little hand signal toward the end of AC1 plays out in full in AC2.

     You escape using the training you received as baby Ezio and meet up with the rest of “the team” in some warehouse. But before you meet with them you have to do that forced slow walk to your destination and the obligatory conversation in motion explaining the story to this point. You meet up with Rebecca, she takes care of “baby” or “Animus two-point-oh” as she prefers to call it, and Shaun, the data-base historian and tactical assistant. For the most part, these two characters are voices in your head while playing as Ezio.

     The next time you boot into the system, sadly you don’t get to be Ezio, BUT you’re thrown into a brawl with your friends and some brat’s posse. Eventually you’re joined by your older brother Federico who challenges you to see how many guys you can knock out. I would loot ALL the bodies, gotta get them Florins! Also, weirdly, you get nailed in the face with a rock, to start the fight, giving you (Ezio) a scar over your mouth; the same scar Desmond has! I don’t know what the purpose of this scar is, but I feel like a shaving accident might be in my future… The next bit you spend with your brother in some healthy competition and glory getting. And finally, you reach the top of tower you were racing to and the interaction that follows sets the mood for the rest of the game: “Federico: It is a good life we lead, brother. Ezio: (sigh) The best. May it never change. Federico: And may it never change us.” Queue the music, the “presented by” overlay, the game title! … and the tears.

     I don’t know what it is, but I’m finding it difficult holding them back in this moment. Whether it’s the brotherly love, rich enjoyment of life, the music, or the beautiful scene before me; it’s just so much AWESOME. It feels like the youth we all wish we had, maybe that’s it.

     Federico advises they head home but Ezio, after all this adrenaline, wishes to pay a visit to his lady friend. Youths!.. Come morning, you flee home to a disgruntled and yet somewhat proud father who has you deliver a message to a friend of his who should have been in town but, unexpectedly, is not. So, you return home to overhear your father talking with a man about his concerns of a threat against his family but brushes you off to your sister and mother in the courtyard.

     Your sister, Claudia, has been cheated on and you, as the big brother, go off and teach this bum, Duccio (insert pun here), a lesson. When you find him, he’s proposing to some other girl and it seems he wanted something your sister wasn’t willing to give him. Which is awesome!..for her… and you, because you get to beat him up!. the BUM… Don’t be that girl or that douchio… there! I SAID IT!!! Happy?! (I hope so;)

     When you come back home to tell your sister the message has been received, your mother is waiting for you instead. This scene, yet again, shows the strength of the relationships in the Auditore family but between Ezio and his mother, with how candidly she speaks with while maintaining a position of authority and respect… well done, ma! (No link here, you’ll have to play for this one.) She has a little task for you and introduces you to Leonardo Da Vinci, who conveniently lives just down the street from you.

     Next, you meet your little brother, Petruccio, who looks like he’s maybe 10 years old. He should be in bed according to Ezio… even though it’s very much daytime in the game… BUT, Petruccio “wants those feathers” he’s collecting. Collecting these golden feathers for him becomes a side-objective later on, but is now a timed mission you have to complete. Petruccio points to one up on a roof in front of your house but you gather a few atop the nearby buildings and bring them back to him. Upon returning them: “Ezio: You still haven’t told me why you want these. Petruccio: I will. In time.” Sadly, we won’t ever know why little Petruccio wanted these feathers. …(oh my GOODNESS, I think I figured it out! cliffhanger…sorry…)

     Lastly, when you re-enter your home, your worried father has some last errands for you to run, pleading for your discretion while you do it. You’re to deliver three letters, one to a thief and courtesan, one to a nervous mercenary who asks a confused Ezio if he was followed, and the last to a pigeon coup to be delivered out of the city.

     And, again, I don’t want to get into too much detail with the story and the game is old enough to where if you DON’T know about it yet, especially this one, the shame be upon you! After delivering the letters for your father, having the confusing conversation with the mercenary, and returning home, you get attacked by a servant girl thinking the guards were coming back for your sister and mother, who is “in shock” and is no longer speaking. (DEEP BREATH)…The guards took your father and brothers and locked them up in the tower at the Palazzo della Signoria. So, naturally, you run off to talk with tu padre, ducking passed or fighting guards to get there.

     You speak with your father through the bars in the tower. He tells you to return to the house and find his hidden assassin room, instructing you to take his things and deliver some document to the man he was speaking with earlier, Messer Uberto. You dawn his Assassin garb, noticing a damaged hidden blade and the letter. Just outside, in the courtyard, you’re confronted by guards sent to kill you and it seems everyone is looking for you. After knocking on Uberto’s door repeatedly, you tell him about the imprisonment and give him the letter. He assures you it was all a misunderstanding, but in that moment, you see a hooded man behind him emerge from the shadows, possibly to get a look at you. Uberto tells you the documents you gave him contain evidence of a conspiracy against your family and against the city, saying he’ll present the information at the hearing in the morning and offers you a place to stay the night. That snake…why? you’ll see…

     A new mission loads and it’s morning now. You make your way back to the Palazzo to a crowd gathered around a gallows with familiar faces standing on the elevated platform above the crowd. Immediately, Uberto starts yelling about your family’s crime of treason demanding evidence to counter the charges. The snake…see?!.. Giovanni, your father, exclaims regarding the documents you delivered to him last night, which Uberto denies. Then he, with the hooded man from last night behind him, pronounces your father and his “collaborators”, including your older and younger brothers, guilty and sentences them to death. Giovanni screams vengeance and you see him and little Petruccio drop through the floor. The guards are then called on you in the crowd, because who can keep quiet in that situation?! The thief and courtesan from last night happen to be standing behind you and quietly recommend you run fo yo life.

The story continues from here…
     I could go on for so long about this game, and really, I’d just want to play it with you or watch you experience it for the first time. The sad thing, being that you may have to put aside the graphical limitations of the day to love a game a few generations old, the kids these days probably won’t appreciate it as much! What I’m hoping to do is convey what Assassin’s Creed WAS, at least to me.

Thoughts:

     As far as my recent gaming experience goes, and I’m talking “recent” as in POST grade-school life, Assassin’s Creed 2, quite possibly, had the greatest impact on me. No other story has been so compelling as Ezio’s, and maybe I’m a little biased from playing the game so stinking much… But, for the music, to this day, to have such a profound calming and humbling effect on me… there’s got to be some magic in there. SO, I’d recommend it to you. If you haven’t played it, try it out, especially if you’re entirely new to the Assassin’s Creed universe. Get a good look at how the AC games started and really took off.

     If you made it this far, thank you for your time. I felt it important to cover, at least, the setup of the plot to this game, but there was just SO MUCH new content in this installment, there was no way to cover it all in one post! So, if you’ve enjoyed it so far, there’ll be more to come! And remember to leave a comment and share your opinion or thoughts on the topic. I’d love to hear from you and start a conversation. But until next time… Vi hörs!

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