Ridiculously entertaining Italian accents aside, if you can get past the ludicrous beginning and to the part where Ezio starts slicing and dicing people in the streets of Renaissance Italy, you are going to have a blast playing this game. Not only is it deeper than the first, but it’s prettier. Much, much prettier.
Now as to the absurd first fifteen to twenty minutes of the game, you start as Desmond from the first game, the guy who has all the crazy assassin ancestors’ memories crammed into his DNA, and Lucy, voiced by Gossip Girl Kristen Bell, busting you out of Abstergo Industries so you can hang out in her secret hideout and go through all your bloody memories away from the templars. Besides the fact that there’s a bunch of complicated exposition that has nothing to with stabbing people in Italy, it keeps you from actually getting to stab people in Italy.
Also, the way they re-introduce you to how to play kind of sucks. The game starts with a poorly rendered recap of the entire first game as if you’ve never heard of Assassin’s Creed, and then the minute the game actually starts, they assume that you not only played the first game, but remember exactly how to do everything. (I, for one, had forgotten a lot and would have appreciated something tutorial-esque, or at least a prominent reminder of the controls.) There was stuff that should have been in the first ten minutes of the game that only showed up in random tips, and you end missing out on some super awesome ways to assassinate people for big chunks of the game.
BUT, and this is a huge but, all that aside, this game is great once you get to Italy. Florence, Rome, and Venice are dazzling. I especially loved Venice during Carnival when all the characters are walking around in gorgeous and grotesque masks. The back story with Ezio and how he becomes an assassin is great, but it would have been nice if the game just said, “Hi!” to Desmond and got right to **SPOILER** Ezio’s brothers and father being falsely accused and hung for treason. Who wouldn't want to murder half of Florence after something like that? **END SPOILER** Running across the roofs, blending in with groups of courtesans, and the myriad of ways there are to murder people (stabbing them with a poisoned blade and watching them go nuts was a personal favorite) were all even more fun than they were in the first game, and the story they put in place to justify all this mayhem was surprisingly compelling.
I also loved Ezio’s uncle Mario for one of the best references I’ve ever seen in a game. I don’t even want to describe it here because it was one of my favorite things ever. It was almost as awesome as a certain cameo in Zombieland.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got say about the game specifically, but this being my inaugural Fangirl post, allow me this anecdote:
This video game nearly ruined my grandma’s Christmas. When she asked me what to get my boyfriend for the holiday, and I foolishly recommended she buy him this. I got three panicked voice mails asking about the difference between “the X and the P3.” It had never occurred to me to specify the Xbox over the PS3 version, and Grandma almost didn’t speak to me the rest of the holidays. That’s how traumatized she was. Then, she sat down to watch while we played the game, and she fell in LOVE. Being Italian, she was obsessed with the environments and wanted to visit every city to look around for famous landmarks and places she’d been. Plus, she conveniently looked away every time I had to brutally murder a rooftop guard. Now, this is a woman who was offended by the Sopranos, and even though she saw a cut scene with the over-the-top Italian accents and stereotypes, she STILL loved this game.
So go play it. Me and my Italian grandmother say it’s good for you!