Right off the cuff, the first thing I noticed about AC2 is the color. The animations and character models aren’t great, but that’s to be expected from a game that released in 2009. The main setting is renaissance Italy and the game captures it well. From the style of clothing to the beautiful locations, AC2 really brings the setting to life. On top of that, it has subtitles. Oh subtitles, how I’ve missed you. My audio processing disorder weeps in happiness.
This game starts out with Desmond still captured until Lucy comes in, covered in blood. Of course, even though she’s in a hurry, she sticks him in the animus to live out the experience of being born.
Putting aside the fact that being born sounds traumatic to remember, it’s an interesting tutorial. Rather than tell you the controls, the game has you experiment, learning how to lift your head, arms, and legs in the form of an infant that was born not breathing as your father tries to coax you to life. It’s a novel way to start a game, but it did bring up the need to look up the controls every once in a while, as the game never outright tells you what to do. In that moment, your father declares your name; Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The most beloved of protagonists in all the games.
After that, Lucy pulls Desmond out of the animus and takes some sort of memory bank out of the machine. Together, they escape Abstergo after passing by and fighting a bunch of guards. During this time, Lucy doesn’t really want to chat even though Desmo0nd seems to think it’s the perfect time to ask questions and make idle commentary. While Desmond does discover eagle vision in this sequence, he is mostly just following Lucy. Eventually, Lucy shoves him in a trunk to hide him, and in my opinion, to shut him up.
When they arrive at a warehouse set up as a base of operations, Lucy tries her best to convince Desmond to join the assassins. She wants to train him using the animus bleeding effect, which Lucy later explains causes someone who uses the animus to not only gain the abilities of their ancestors, but also causes confusion about who they are. It’s risky, but Desmond agrees to do it. He has questions, but he trusts Lucy. The team Lucy works with consists of Shaun Hastings, a brilliant asshole that coordinates movements and information between assassins, and Rebecca Crane, a much nicer technical genius that built a better animus than Abstergo ever had. It’s a quick and dirty introduction, but considering how fast the beginning of the game is paced, that makes sense.
Finally, we hop back in the animus. It’s 1476 in Fiorentina, the city Ezio lives in. We are about to fight Vieri de Pazzi, who has apparently slandered our family name. Of course, Pazzi throws a rock at us as the fight starts for implying we slept with his sister and for some reason that results in a scar on the mouth that matches one Desmond has exactly. It’s worth noting that Ezio and Desmond look exactly alike. It’s weird, even considering the fact they are related, that a guy from the 1400’s and from modern times would have the exact same face, build, and lip scar.
We learn to fight to the detriment of Pazzi and his men, and eventually our brother, Frederico, joins us. The game does a good job of making him out to be the older brother that Ezio admires, even though there isn’t a whole lot of connection to him later in the game.
Anyway, when we win the fight, Frederico makes us rob the guys we beat up to pay for a doctor to look at our lip. We loot all the definitely not dead guys and then follow our brother on a trip across rooftops to see a doctor, who doesn’t seem surprised to see us up to trouble. Afterwords, we race our brother to the top of a church and have a nice brotherly moment, before running off to sleep with Cristina, our apparent girlfriend who is never seen in this game again. In the morning, her dad catches us and we run off and away from a bunch of guards.
We head home to be greeted by our father, Giovanni, who feigns disappointment in us, only to say it reminded him of himself at that age. Again here, the game does a pretty good job of emotionally connecting you to Ezio’s mom, two brothers, and sister, but I’d say it does the best job connecting you to the father. Giovanni clearly loves his son deeply and that shows in small but significant ways. For the rest of the family, it’s the other way around. You admire the older brother, Frederico, you collect feathers and dote on the younger brother, Petruccio, and you beat up the sister, Claudia’s, cheating ex out of devotion for her. For the mom, Maria, you run an errand where you meet Leonardo da Vinci, who at the time, is a young man. However, as you work and deliver letters for the father, the father-son connection is deeper than the relationships with the rest of the family. This shows even in Giovanni’s death.
While out completing some shadier tasks for Giovanni, shit goes down. Ezio comes back to find his home ransacked, his mother and sister hiding with a servant, and his brothers and father arrested. Ezio has the servant take Claudia and Maria to her sister’s house and he takes off to go see Giovanni in jail. Luckily, Giovanni has a secret room in his office that contains some armor, weapons, and a letter clearing their family name. We head off to deliver the letter to Uberto Alberti, who more or less plays the role of a lawyer or judge, and does business with Ezio’s father.
Ezio, like his father, trusts Uberto to exonerate them. This turns out to be a mistake. Uberto doesn’t present the evidence, and instead hangs Ezio’s father and brothers, judging them guilty of treason.
Right off the cuff, the start of this game is far more compelling and emotional than the last. While Altair’s story is compelling, it lacked a lot of emotion that Ezio’s story has right from the start. On top of that, even though the controls aren’t exactly intuitive, it is far easier to get around without jumping off buildings on accident. All in all, the start of this game has sucked me in, ensuring my interest for the time being.
Fixing Match 3
For one of the most popular casual games in existence, Match 3 is actually really broken. Until one developer fixed it.
Shamus Plays WOW
Ever wondered what's in all those quest boxes you've never bothered to read? Get ready: They're more insane than you might expect.
MMO Population Problems
Computers keep getting more powerful. So why do the population caps for massively multiplayer games stay about the same?
A Star is Born
Remember the superhero MMO from 2009? Neither does anyone else. It was dumb. So dumb I was compelled to write this.
Spec Ops: The Line
A videogame that judges its audience, criticizes its genre, and hates its premise. How did this thing get made?