Assassin's Creed II Updated Impressions

We finally got another look at Assassin's upcoming Renaissance-era sequel, and this time around we find Ezio in the city of Florence.

When we first saw Assassin's Creed II back at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, it wowed us with its sumptuous graphics and slick Renaissance-inspired storyline. We finally got a chance to return to the world of Italian assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze at GamesCom 2009 in Cologne, Germany, and checked out the brand-new city of Florence.

Assassin's Creed II creative director Patrice Desilets was again on hand to guide us through 15th-century Italy, and our demo began on the Florentine rooftops. The environment looked stunning in the late afternoon, with a soft haze obscuring the nearby hillside. The skyline was filled with orange terracotta roof tiles and soft pastel and cream colours. Gazing around, we could see numerous towers, domed churches, villas, and plenty of other buildings with rustic charm. Ezio walked up to a nearby guard and used his concealed pistol--first seen in the E3 announcement trailer to dramatic effect--to execute him. When you aim the pistol, a grey line will show where you're pointing, and this should improve aiming with the third-person camera. After a few moments, Desilets jumped off the rooftop into a hay bale on the street below. He then approached a street merchant who sold him a bottle of poison to use for an assassination mission. These missions are delivered to Ezio through carrier pigeons, which you can find scattered around Florence's rooftops. The heads-up displays have been slightly updated, while the controls look the same as before and are again contextually mapped to your head and limbs. The Y button is assigned to eagle vision, B is for tackles or gentle pushes, and A is used to sprint, free-run, jump, or steal.

While you could blend only with scholars in the original game, you can now do so with pretty much any group of people, and this is illustrated by an abstract pattern of criss-crossing lines on the ground when you approach them. Desilets used eagle vision--the ability to single out friends, foes, and targets in a crowd--to locate his target and then blended into a crowd to get a bit closer. Rather than going in for a bold kill, you can use other characters to do your dirty work. In this case, he infected the target's guard with poison, and within a few moments the guard started having a fit. Slashing his lance around from the pain, the guard was able to pierce the man he was meant to protect, thereby fulfilling Ezio's mission. This looks like just one example of some of the new ways to carry out such missions, and we look forward to seeing more examples at a later date.

Following this mission, the day began to disappear and night fell upon the city. Dark, grey clouds covered the sky, and the Florentine skyline was bathed in the dying moments of twilight. Desilets led us on to a nearby alley, which was blocked by some guards. He enlisted the help of some nearby mercenaries, and after exchanging some money, they agreed to kill the guards. Being able to get others to do your dirty work seems like an interesting idea, but because you have to pay them, you will probably need to save their resources for special occasions. The alley revealed a hidden trapdoor, indicated by the assassin's symbol, which surrounded a skull set into a fountain. Ezio pushed his fingers into the eye sockets, activating the hidden door, and jumped down into a new area below: the catacombs beneath Florence.

We're told by Desilets that there will be numerous underground areas to expose in the game. However, they're all optional besides this particular one. The reason this one is mandatory is that it involves the discovery of a secret meeting of the Assassins' sworn enemies, the Templars. The catacombs offered a fresh landscape to what we'd already seen, and the chipped, worn brickwork was bathed in a soft candlelight, accented by painted artwork, ornate, classical architecture, scattered debris, and even human bones. Desilets used Ezio's acrobatic skills to make his way down to the bottom of a central shaft just after the Templars moved into a huge hall, sealing off the entrance with a heavy stone door. Using some acrobatics, he was able to climb up to an area above the sealed room and found a secret level that opened the door, triggering a cutscene featuring the Templars.

Despite their lavishly decorated armour, the Templars seemed as deadly as ever and quickly set out to find Ezio. Desilets demonstrated a cool new "death from above" move that lets you execute an enemy by jumping from above and stabbing him with your knife. After taking care of one soldier, he used a smoke bomb to distract two more and chase after a final one, who made a hasty retreat. The Templar was intent on warning his cohorts, and this section features the new chase gameplay. Your aim is to stop him before he can call for reinforcements, by any means possible. These areas don't appear to be linear, and you can use alternative paths when an enemy creates an obstacle, in this case blocking our way to a terraced balcony by locking a gate. Desilets used a chandelier to swing around the outside of the balcony and through a gap in the wall to kill the Templar, which resulted in another cutscene where Ezio eavesdrops on the meeting. Inspired by real events, the cutscene shows the Pazzi conspirators who planned an assassination on the brothers Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici, co-rulers of the Florentine Republic. There were a number of conspirators named, including the pope, who apparently approved of the Templars' plot.

Our demo concluded with Ezio finding a chest of money and opening a sarcophagus marked with the Assassin's logo, and we found a ceramic seal inside. Collecting these, we're told, will result in big rewards later on. Opening a nearby door, Desilets exited the catacombs and popped back into the world through a sewer grate near a canal. Assassin's Creed II is dropping onto the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on November 17 in North America and on November 20 in Europe. For all of our coverage from Cologne, visit gamescom.gamespot.com.

Written By

Former staff writer for GameSpot.co.uk, now marketing guy for a certain major online retailer....

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Discussion

152 comments
Night-Silence
Night-Silence

This game is no.1 on my wish list. Hope i get it!!

Jhraxlin
Jhraxlin

This, MW2, and Zelda, all for the holidays... Overkill.

JB2B
JB2B

I think they did it, they made this one everything the first one should have been and improved on that. This one is on top of my wish list together with Modern Warfare 2.

rambo126
rambo126

Rented the first one yesterday, because of scratches i couldn't get past past the second memory block (Dammit). but have thoroughly enjoyed it so far, cant wait for this one especially with the gunpowder MWAHAHAHAHAA!!!!

101_Ben_101
101_Ben_101

Never really got into Assaasin's Creed, mite get this game, but as I said, never got into it.

Col-Neil
Col-Neil

It does sound good but i hope the game just doesn't end up as one big grind like the first game

billaboy69
billaboy69

didnt play first one.but read about it,..just didnt have money to buy it.I will DEFINITELY get this game.its looks to be an awesome compilation of the first one,plus more in detail with game mechanics and scenarios.Yep,im gonna get it.what the hell was wrong with me not playing the first one.

rebfaction
rebfaction

Please no more. I can't take it eny more I want this game really bad I can't wait I want it now. Can't wait three month's. Repetitive is not going to stop me from buying a game. All video Games are reptitive.

luizillo
luizillo

I want this game definitely...yeah im agree with the repetitive 1st version. I hope this one can offer something more

EvanDeWickeD
EvanDeWickeD

The first one was good... even though i found it a bit repetitive :( Hope this one offers more to do.

jabjab960
jabjab960

I think it sounds cool how you can poison someone to kill your target. However i don't care about that coz i know this'll be a mint game!

deatheaterjahan
deatheaterjahan

the animation of ezio is so much like altair i hope the create new ones and i'm sure they'll make AC II very good

eddieham13
eddieham13

looks really good... I hope you can use the mercenaries however you want and not just in certain areas. e.g. they follow you around until you say otherwise. as i can see them only being used where guards are blocking somwhere like the scholars in AC1.

Turk130
Turk130

Looks like it'll be one of the best games of the year

ej1041
ej1041

DEMO DEMO!!!! please? no ? ok....

EL1CHEF
EL1CHEF

hahahahahaha the game designer looks like bruno vasaaaaaap

EL1CHEF
EL1CHEF

i want a demo please for the love of god

pidow
pidow

Ah, November seem such a long time from now......A must buy for me.

vecsim89
vecsim89

Loved the first AC. Drooling over this one.

Shlobadober
Shlobadober

it's going to some mad fun when it come's out i wonder how and if it will tie in to Assassin's

RonTorque
RonTorque

Looks way fun than the first.

Arab-man666
Arab-man666

I'm not a fan of "european" themed things, however this looks fantastic.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

Man, this is sounding good. I might have to pick this up!

yummyjibblybits
yummyjibblybits

I love the idea that there are so many ways to assassinate your target with poison and all...it makes for a much better game with so many variants. Being broke its gonna be a tough call between this and Modern warfare 2. :-)

mojomaniac
mojomaniac

@Daman92 but it's a lot more improved than the 1st and hardly repetative so they could like it, or not idk

abosh1
abosh1

wow. this looks soooo good...

Daman92
Daman92

if people did not enjoy the 1st i must say not to get your hopes up, as i love the 1st so i know i will enjoy this and i dont want loads of people slamming this game as it is amazing.

Shadowcon04
Shadowcon04

Chimera dude online ownage for MW2 can wait =) this game is a must get first

gatoner
gatoner

This game seems like it is going to be a great sequel to the first. And by the way, doing all the extras in the first one though repetitive was still fun!

Airlon
Airlon

I hope it beats the 1st one! :)

jasopan
jasopan

PLEASE let this be what the first one should have been!

JB2B
JB2B

This just sounds to fantastic to be true. I mean everything that was missing with the first one seemed to be implemented into the second one. Hope the overall thing feels just as dynamic as this article suggests. The underground corridors are great, much more fun to look for those than for flags. I'm sure now: I definitely going to get Modern Warfare 2 & Assassin's Creed 2.

Freakishrage
Freakishrage

I just reset my pre-order to the newly added special edition. I've been tracking this game for over a year, I can't wait to put full use to all the revisions since the first game of this epic series! and Batman will keep me occupied while I wait!

bluenosepunk
bluenosepunk

There's so many awesome games coming out and this is one of the best looking of the bunch.

NuKkU
NuKkU

My most anticpated game of 09 i cant wait!!!

sensual-_-panda
sensual-_-panda

the freakin' pope? lolz. what if in a mission he was your target? the angry catholic ranting and whatever the disk equivelant is of book burning would be hilarious. then again who knows if anyone cares about a pope from way back when. p.s. no anti-religious sentiments intended, not catholic but a christian nonetheless, so i don't really care either way bout pope.

chimera23
chimera23

i think i wont get this game had AC1 but i buy MW2:D

king_kong101
king_kong101

this is going to be AMAZING!!! I can't wait for it to come out!!!

SFS33J
SFS33J

the assassin creed it's action game exiteng and i like the thefing game.

HitmanDante
HitmanDante

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]