If you have ever listened to the podcast or looked at our game reviews, you will notice that most of us do not believe that Assassin’s Creed 1 was a very good game. All of us agree, however, that the second was a phenomenal game and deserves much praise. Such a dramatic change inplayer opinions can only be caused by a large change in gameplay and functionaity. It is my belief that Ubisoft was brilliant in their improvements to the franchise between the first and second installment of Assassin’s Creed
The Importance of Fighting
If you remember the latter half of AC1 like I do, then you will remember that it involved having to fight off hordes of enemies to get to the target in the midst of a brawl. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with a game putting a lot of focus on fighting in the campaign, but this game is about stealth. even the “save citizen” objectives included fighting off quite a few guards. I spent most of my time dreading the fights not only because the counter function was iffy at best, but because I felt the game should be more about the stealth and strategy of assassinations.
Assassin’s Creed 2 shifts the focus off of fighting very skillfully. I’m not going to deny that a large amount of campaign is spent fighting, and that the save citizen games in Revelations and Brotherhood were just like the first game, for there is no denying that. This game put the emphasis on stealth much more than the first game. A huge amount of the missions required you not to be detected and was more sensitive to your placement during the time of assassination than the first game. Ubisoft also made the fighting much easier, at least in my opinion, so that it would not take up as much time. While there are very important fights that are to be fought in the game, the main focus is the stealth and recconaissance performed to get to the location where the target will be.
Markets and Money
In the first game, you could not buy weapons or equipment, they were given to you as you progressed through the game. This slightly frustrated me as I was going through the game recently having also played my other AC games to prepare for AC4. I enjoyed being able to choose what types of weapons to fight with and being able to pickpocket for money which I then got to budget and manage in order to buy the best armor and weapons in the game. It adds a whole new level of fun to the game, and it was a feature that I thought made AC2 such a great game in comparison to the first game. Pickpocketting itself is one of the great features of the second game. Whenever you were low on throwing knives you could just take some from a guard, or search a dead one for extras. In the first one you had to replenish them rarely. In the second game, you could get much of what you need by taking it from guards or from the innocent civilians ( I do not support the mugging and theft of civilians). This is why I love the second game, and would rather not play the first.
While swimming is a relatively minor issue in the grand scheme of things, it is an issue that bugged me throughout the first game. Altair is a grown man and should not die when he touches water. In Acre there is a section of the city completely covered in water. One must traverse the extensive docks to get to a checkpoint and later, a target. Unfortunately if you misplace your finger on the joysticks, you could fling yourself to a wet death. At least Ezio can swim and does so with gusto and grace, unlike some other assassins. This is something that just bugged me.
The way the story was carried out and the enjoyment I got from the stories influenced my opinions on the games a great deal. Story, I believe, is the most important part of the game and should entrance the player. AC1 did not do this. The story was repetitive and slightly dull. You are sent to the same cities with the same outcome only to get to a telegraphed ending. In AC2, the story was tragic and enveloped me from the moment I pressed “play game”. As Ezio, I travelled across the cities of Italy. In AC2, you answer\to a benevolent caretaker who did not appear all that much, shifting the focus of the gamer toward Ezio and his relationships with his peers. This is unlike the first game where the most important relationship is that between Altair and Al Mualim. All-in-all, the story in Assassin’s Creed 2 was the superior story.
The gameplay, economy, and story in the second installment of Assassin’s Creed were far superior to the same features in the first. The second far outstrips the first game in terms of replayability and overall likeability. It is because of these reasons I prefer the second game to the first any day.