I had the opportunity to sit down with the producer of Assassin's Creed 2, Sébastien Puel, and watch him play through the E3 build of the game. Before I begin, I'd like to preface this by saying that everyone at E3 only saw about 15 minutes of Assassin's Creed 2. So who knows if we can expect the whole game to play just like the E3 build did.
In the first Assassin's Creed, Abstergo Industries ventures inside Desmond Miles' memories to track down information on Altaïr, a deadly assassin after a "Piece of Eden". An interesting concept, but the game fell flat after a couple hours and did not offer anything new as the game progressed. Ubisoft Montreal is now trying to redeem themselves with Assassin's Creed 2.
Assassin's Creed 2 features Desmond again. But this time, instead of following around Altaïr, the game lets you take control of Ezio Auditore di Firenze, a descendant of Altaïr. One of the main differences between Ezio and Altaïr is that Ezio is still learning how to become an assassin. It is important to note that Ezio is not a murderer though. His murderous personality started with a vengeance, so he feels like he is fighting for a good cause. And he is definitely not alone in his views.
So, the part of the game I witnessed took place in Venice, Italy. Right away, the color looked much more vibrant than in Jerusalem (which is where Assassin's Creed took place). It is night time and there is a festival going on. The crowd looks more real and interactive. Also, take into account that Italy was much more educated than Jerusalem during these time periods, so the crowd reflects that. Your mission is to take out Grimalde. So you scale a building and meet up with Leonardo Da Vinci who will help you out with the assassination. Scaling the buildings looks like it uses the same controls as the first installment, but there are much more animations in Assassin's Creed 2. So everything looks much more crisp and smooth.
Leonardo lets you use his flying machine (which looks like it came right out of a Batman movie). As you fly through the air, the world around you blurs and really enhances the flight. As you land, you start the killing. Feel free to assassinate from ledges, roof tops, or anywhere your heart desires. Grab all kinds of weapons and use them against your enemies. And of course you've heard about the blades he has hidden up both his sleeves. So once you get rid of Grimalde (and a bunch of his friends), you can jump off the building into a big bale of straw.
Assassin's Creed 2 is looking like the game Assassin's Creed should have been. There are tons of side quests, it looks more colorful and less predictable, you can use factions to hire hitmen, etc. According to the producer, the game should last you around 20 hours. Also, there is love story in the game. I'm not sure of the specifics, but you will see a sensitive side of Ezio, hopefully. I am really looking forward to Assassin's Creed 2 and if the full game is anything like the demo, it should be an elegant, but gritty game that will top the first installment in just about every category.
Thanks to Sébastien Puel, the Producer of Assassin's Creed 2.
Assassin's Creed 2 will be released on November 17, 2009 on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.