Assassin’s Creed 2: Ezio Collection Review

I’m playing the Ezio Collection on PS4 because I haven’t been enamored with any of the new releases so far this year. The only game I was super excited for in the early part of the year was Anthem and we all know how that turned out. I didn’t vibe with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice when I saw more of the gameplay nor did I want to get involved with Days Gone early. So, rather than play a game I was unsure about I dove into a game I knew I loved in the form of Assassin’s Creed 2. For the most part, it’s as great as I recall but it also looks way worse than what I thought. Even with the remaster the game looks like how I remember PS2 games looking, which isn’t accurate. Just how I feel.

Anyway, let’s get into the review. I am going to break my norm and have spoilers in the review. I feel like spoilers are fine with a game this old.

TL,DR: At the end, as per usual.

AGAIN, SPOILERS INCOMING.

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Graphics:

As I mentioned earlier, I did not like the graphics in AC2. The people creeped me out because of their weird eyes and facial features. Seriously. The eyes bugged out on occasion and just looked out of place on their faces.

The cities themselves, as in the places where most of the game takes place, looked fine for the most part. The color palette changed enough from city to city that I understood I was in a different place. The buildings had mildly different architecture. Each new locale had a different layout so it didn’t feel the same traversing throughout.

The animations for both Ezio and any random passerby felt a bit stiff and robotic. You can clearly see the changes in body mapping in newer games consider many high budget titles us motion capture. That did not happen in AC2 and that was very clear. To be fair, it didn’t look bad, just off.

The graphics were worse than what I was expecting but it didn’t detract from the overall experience.

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Sound:

The sound was passable, I suppose. As with many games, the sound didn’t stick out as good or bad.

I can only think of a couple of different music tracks which were used sparingly. The cities sounded exactly the same from place to place and to be fair I didn’t think there would be a reason for them to sound different as they were all relatively similar.

I do think some of the voices were pretty well done. Ezio, Desmond, Leonardo da Vinci, Lucy, and Rodrigo Borgia all sounded good and were unique enough to know what was speaking without seeing them speak. Some of the characters all sounded similar, especially some of the people you assassinate on the way through the game. They may have been the same person for all I know. Age didn’t seem to impact the sound of most of the voices.

 

I couldn’t navigate the world of AC2 with sound alone. I feel like some games nail the nuance of sound and we are able to differentiate places and people with sound alone. That wasn’t the case here. Sure, the sound was totally fine but it wasn’t incredible or memorable in any way. I can only recall one instance of thinking the music was on point and fit the mood of the moment.

Traversing the world, grunting when you land, or slashing someone with a sword all sounded okay. The different weapons all seemed to sound the same, which is kind of a bummer. One of my favorite ways to understand the impact or weight of a weapon is through sound and that was entirely missing.

Again the sound was fine, neither great nor bad. Better than the graphics but not the best aspect of the game.

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Technical:

I think for a remaster of a game released roughly 10 years ago the game ran fine but had weird graphical issues and slowdown. I also had one random crash that corrupted a save that caused minor panic. However, I just had to delete the save and pick up from an earlier mission. I didn’t know the game had multiple save files so I was thankful for that.

I didn’t notice any FPS issues at any point so the game ran smoothly for the most part.

Some people’s faces and their eyes specifically creeped me out and took me out of the experience. Certain characters eyes seemed like they stuck out of their head and made them look inhuman. Was it funny? Yes. But, it happened so much it became a distraction.

Facial and body animations just didn’t work on occasion so people would be doing things that weren’t possible, like gliding across the ground without walking, or their mouths not moving while they spoke.

 

Sometimes scenes would play without sound and entirely and I was left wondering what was happening. Of course, I have played the game before so I pretty much know what happened, I would have just liked to experience everything again.

The camera was obnoxious at times as well. It seems like the camera would stick and focus on one thing or shift to a bad perspective at bad times and made those sections of the game painfully annoying.

Again, the game ran fine but some oddities stuck out and made the game less enjoyable.

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Gameplay:

I think gameplay should shine with Assassin’s Creed titles and it does to an extent with AC2. The gameplay experience is fantastic overall and I love interacting with the world. Also, I find the combat, the climbing and the traversing the world to be annoying in the moment to moment of the game.

Sometimes the assassination animations would not work or would bug out causing you to reveal yourself way sooner that anticipated or planned which changes how the game plays. If you’ve played any AC game you know that sometimes the characters just jump off walls when they absolutely should not and it causes major frustrations.

Or you would be fighting someone and the rock, paper, scissors mechanics of the weapons would not work as intended. I felt like I didn’t understand how everything worked because sometimes assassinations would work in the middle of combat or I wouldn’t be able to grab and kill someone when I absolutely should have, such as when they were holding smaller weapons like daggers.

I like doing small things like exploring or running around the world and letting events unfold. And for the most part, I appreciate AC games for those small details that create a major impact, but many of those small details were missing. The world just didn’t feel like the newer AC titles, understandably. Doing cool things in cool historical worlds is what draws me to the series.

I understand that the game first released in 2009 so I set my expectations accordingly. I was still a little disappointed with the gameplay and the fun factor.

Gameplay was alright without being good. I was happy to play. I wasn’t bored at any point that’s for sure.

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Story:

I have no idea why but I remember the story of AC2 being involved and requiring focus within each minute of gameplay. I didn’t find that to be true in this replay.

Sure, I’d was happy to play the game again, but I don’t think I feel compelled to go back and immediately play it again. I think the game starts out great with a focus on avenging your family and not such a “save the world” plot. And while the game doesn’t quite get to an epic scope where you are the only to save the world, the ending with the prehumans, or whatever they are called, is a bit odd and makes Ezio feel like the most important person in the world. I just don’t vibe with how the game ended.

I think the experience of getting there was great and the story within Ezio’s world is a fun romp in the 15th century. My problem is that I’ve never really enjoyed the flashes forward in time. I don’t really like Desmond and think the games should abandon the contemporary plot entirely. I would much prefer to play that time and place without influence from the 21st century.

Honestly, I think the games would be fine if they just abandoned the weird future/past narrative and just let us live in the past entirely with these stories. Getting to play in Renaissance Italy is cool enough without dumb Desmond as my frame of reference.

Desmond himself doesn’t really bother me just the story presented through his eyes.

I love getting to experience characters from 1500ish AD Italy. I’m really happy to just experience the story in that world with Ezio leading the charge and impacting the world around him. The game excels when we can focus on Ezio and live his life and the Desmond nonsense is only a minor slowdown.

I was happy to play the game and get to see the story again as it has been almost 10 years from my first and only playthrough.

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Overall:

Fun game to play around in again with a few minor hiccups. The remaster itself is fine if not a little odd in places. Sometimes the world felt empty and without life but that didn’t stop me from having a good time. I’m happy to have another chance to experience Ezio’s story and I’m even more excited for his later games because I didn’t really play them. I’m also happy to be done with this game because I enjoy the later games much more from a gameplay perspective.

TL,DR: Really good with some minor hiccups and less-than-amazing graphics. Excited to experience more of Ezio’s story. Could do without Desmond.

Thanks for reading.

 

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