Renaissance of death arrives

Assassian

Ubisoft Montreal brought a unique experience to gamers in November of 2007 with "Assassin’s Creed." Players assumed the role of Desmond Miles in the present day who lived out his ancestor, Altair’s, memories through a special machine. Filled with mystery and plenty of free-running action throughout the Crusades, it was quite an experience. Eager players can dive in again with "Assassin’s Creed 2," which takes place in Renaissance Italy, as new hero Ezio Auditore. Cities such as Florence, Venice, and Rome are visited, as well as various stronghold towns like Monteriggioni in Tuscany and Forli in Romagna.

Similar to the previous game, players must work to solve the mystery by scaling buildings, vaulting rooftops and killing designated targets. This time around, however; there is more of an emphasis on story and character development. Ezio, who has more personality than Altair, uncovers a dark tale of political corruption and what is considered "right." Along the way, he receives help from notable renaissance dignitaries such as Lorenzo de Medici, DaVinci and Macchiavelli, among others.

Ezio has access to various side quests separate to the main storyline such as courier missions, where he must deliver a timely letter or two, beat up missions, assassination contracts and races. Overall, there is more variety in these as well as the main quest missions, which are now multi-faceted. Players looking for more of a challenge can take part in six hidden "Assassin Tombs," which require great platforming skills, in return for legendary armor. There are also factoids on famous people and landmarks of the time, statuettes of Roman gods and Codex pages to hunt for, each with their own special reward. Most interesting though, are the "glyphs" hidden around the world which lead to puzzles that mesh actual history and game canon.

New additions to the game include various hidden blade attachments to kill people with, such as poison blades or a gun attachment. Ezio can also pilot several new vehicles such as a gondola as well as swim, learn new combat moves, buy armor and weapons and even run his own village. Unfortunately, some problems remain from the first game such as the fact that enemies wait around for the player and attack one at a time. Otherwise, the new changes are welcome additions that provide excellent replay value. The story provides ample room to explore other time periods given the ancestor mechanic and leaves players to wonder about where the story will continue.