Assassin's Creed II (2009)
Impression published on Saturday, 2011-04-16 | Videogame | 1 stars
This game is a classic non-starter.
In fact, now that I am finally getting around to firm up my impressions of it, I am not sure that I am 100% comfortable even calling it a game, in the first place.
A game, as the whole world knows, is made up of one or more tasks at which the player gradually becomes increasingly proficient, either through repetition or study. Assassin's Creed II, by contrast, is more like a tech demo for a second-rate third-person adventure platformer with an uninspired free-walking component hastily mashed up with some comically lousy combat and held together by some of the most numbingly joyless B-movie boilerplate I have ever charitably ignored.
Sure, it puts tasks in front of you and tries to coax you into becoming better at them, but on the few occasions that I have made a (more-or-less) good faith effort to play it, Assassin's Creed II comes off as so lazily hacked together and carelessly designed that I cannot take my mind off of how much more fun it would be to put down the controller and wrestle with the dog a little bit.
Or maybe go stand in front of the window and drink some water for a minute.
And that essential inability to engage (or even really distract) the player is what makes me reluctant to call Assassin's Creed II a game. Some sporadic examples of top-notch model rendering, a few impressively cinematic pieces of camera work and maybe half a dozen neat-looking motion-captures for the main character are really all this thing has to offer and, if you're willing to follow me out on what I think is a fairly wide limb, I think you will agree that those things, in a package bereft of design and gameplay, do not add up to a game.
Bottom line, the mirthlessly lame B-sci-fi setup and the facepalm-inducing faux-historicity of Assassin's Creed II are either indefensibly trite, patently idiotic or both. The game design, insofar as it is present enough to even be remarked upon at all, is at least as repetitive and limiting as the embarrassingly poor brawler fights. In light of all of this, I wonder how anyone ever thought this thing was fit for retail release.
And given that this is the sequel (!), I cannot even imagine how thoroughly lame the first one must be.