So I finished Assassin’s Creed, finishing in couple of rather brutal ten-on-one fights, a disappointingly linear final sequence and a surprisingly easy Final Boss. Still a solidly enjoyable game overall. I’ve now moved onto Assassin’s Creed 2, and so far it looks like an all-round improvement. Which is pretty much what a sequel should be like!

AC1 repeated the same pattern of events about 8 times – do a bunch of short missions in exchange for info, save people from being harassed by guards, do a big Assassination Mission. This time around, the structure is less rigid and there are more activities to keep you busy. You can crack on right away with the assassinations, or goof around doing secondary tasks at your own pace – looking for chests of gold, or various side-missions. There are also the Assassin’s Tombs to investigate, dungeon-like sections with an emphasis on climbing and platform jumping, in search of keys to a particularly fancy treasure.

Then you can return to your home town and upgrade buildings and buy gear. Having resources to manage, a choice of weapons etc is a welcome addition, although I’ve already now bought just about everything I can, and have the town 71% upgraded, after thoroughly ransacking all the treasure I could from the first city. I wonder if they should have thrown in more stuff to purchase.

The visual indicators of guard hostility towards you are somewhat clearer, AC1’s separate indicators for social status and witness awareness were a bit clunky. I’m might not be far enough in to comment extensively on combat, it actually feels mostly easier, except for when fighting brutes. Having hireable allies is quite entertaining, sending a bunch of Courtesans to distract guards while I steal loot.

The cities still look gorgeous, and there’s a great feeling of freedom skipping around the rooftops of Florence, until I screw up and mistime a jump and go crashing into a crowd of people anyway. Our hero Ezio is a bit more charismatic than Altair, I think we can feel a bit more attached to him when we see his care-free pre-assassin life and the tragedy that led him to take up impractical hoods and stabby blades.

I think I need to play more before I decide what I think about on the meta-story about Desmond. The intro with him was pretty much a chore to get through before I could begin the historical content. For now though, I am glad that despite them keeping the “game within a game” theme you don’t need to basically start up, and quit, twice each time you play.

(ps I am playing some Old Games too. Honest! We might have another joint review in the works).