After the recent release of a certain Fassbender-centric movie which I shall leave my opinions for another time, I got talking to a friend who’s making her first foray into video games. After a long discussion after seeing the above film, I’d basically told her the entire plot of the franchise over the course of a pizza and mini tiramisu. It boiled down to:
The stuff in the past is great. The present day stuff is not.
Fortunately, my description didn’t put her off playing the games, and a couple of weeks ago I got a text which read:
“The second game is amazing.”
My long-standing love for this game has been noted, and whilst some people (*cough*Murphy*cough*) rate the first game as the best, I got thinking that I really should go back and revisit renaissance Italy. I downloaded the Ezio collection and sunk back into a game I’ve counted amongst my favourites of all time.
Let’s get the slightly bad out of the way first. The remastered edition has some….issues with their graphics. People’s eyes bulge out of their head so much they look shocked all the time. It’s like they’ve just been poked with a chocolate eclair. I’m certain that this was a result of the upgrade to HD and Ubisoft’s insistence on making nightmarish Lovecraftian horrors come forth on my screen. During many cutscenes, I couldn’t help but stare at someone in the background who’s eyes were so wide it was like they were coming down off a week’s cocaine binge. At least it added a wee bit of charm.
The other slight detraction was the controls, and really this is just a matter of aging. Since 2009, the Assassin’s Creed series has produced more games than currently exist on the entirety of Steam, and with each iteration they’ve crafted and refined the controls for free-running. In AC2, it’s just a little bit rough. I’ll occasionally run up a wall I don’t mean to, or jump backwards off a clock tower to my death.
The positives though, oh my, there’s a reason I considered this one of my favourites. The story, the characters, the gameplay that just hits the perfect balance between the main and side-quests. I feel that the games in recent years have had a tendency to just throw everything in, have 4 different kinds of collectables, a map bigger than 5 San Andreas’s, enough weapons to sink a battleship, an unlockable battleship if you get to 100%. AC2 though was restrained enough to not overwhelm you with all this stuff, and concentrate much more on the story.
I’ve long held that Ezio over his trilogy of games has some of the best single character development in video games, and it really stands out. He’s just so darn likable, from his beginnings as a roguish lady’s man, to his ascension to the head of the assassin order. You believe his journey, understand what changes him and motivates his actions. It’s so well done and perfectly handled that I still can’t believe that the same company produced the 3rd game in the series featuring a main character so annoying that every time he came on screen I wanted to punch my monitor to get him to shut up. 2 makes you believe, it makes you invested, and ultimately care about the character and his story.
I love AC2, just as much as I did when I first played it. Unfettered by the needless additions in subsequent games, but with enough to keep you coming back to try to collect every secret the game has to offer, it’s a joy to relive the story of Ezio Auditore da Firenze.
Requiescat in Pace.