Assassin’s Creed II

Story

The game continues from where the original left off with Desmond having discovered warnings about the end of the world. Warnings that were drawn by a previous prisoner, Subject 16, with his own blood (and he’s one of my favorite characters!) After some time, Lucy Stillman (who revealed herself as an assassin at the end of the last game) helps Desmond to fight their way out and escape from Abstergo. She takes him to a hideout where she introduces two other assassins, Rebecca Crane, a gutsy computer expert, and Shaun Hastings, a cynical historian. In order to train Desmond using the bleeding effect, they need him to go back into an animus. This is where Rebecca proves her handiness and shows Desmond one she built herself called the Animus 2.0 (or baby to Rebecca).
When going back into the Animus, Desmond is taken to Italy during the Renaissance in the 15th century. There we are introduced to a new assassin (and ancestor) called Ezio Auditore da Firenze. A flirtatious Florentine who’s family is tangled within a political mess. Compared to Altair, Ezio has a type of personality that welcomes new players and is more likable, this in itself gave the game a new perspective. (I personally find Altair misunderstood and like him better though) Back to the story.
Once we play through Ezio’s pleasant life enough to understand his pleasures (and meet the lovely Leonardo Da Vinci), the story turns and his father and brothers are taken to jail. Luckily Ezio was out on an errand and returns to a sabotaged and ruined home and learns of his father and brothers arrest. With help from a trustful maid who took his mother (who is now silenced by shock) and sister to safety, Ezio makes his way to the building where his father is kept. Using his stealthy talent, he climbs up and speaks to his father

Execution of the Auditore men

Execution of the Auditore men

through a small depressing window, there his father gives him a last errand to carry out back at their home. It is then, once getting back and following his fathers instructions does Ezio suit up, as told, into an assassin. Ezio continues to do the other things his fatherhas asked him to do, involving giving a family friend a letter which would help free his brothers and father. Unfortunately, everything Ezio does to prevent the worst is futile as his father and brothers are hanged right in front of him by the very so-called ‘family friend’ Betrayal.

Ezio takes his mother and sister and flees to Monteggirioni where his Uncle Mario lives (and yes, he introduces himself just as you most likely heard it in your head) Here the games purpose is pretty much set. Ezio is filled with rage and vengeance, and has learnt a new secret about his father and himself. Ezio sets a mission for vengeance!

Much like the original game, Ezio has targets who are conspirators and aid in the betrayal of his father. As he assassinates and gathers final words, he gains allies and learns of the true mastermind behind everything. Rodrigo Borgia. A Spaniard who much like every other Templar, is corrupt in wanting to control the world using the artifacts. As the game leads to these two opposites at a final showdown, Rodrigo already has two of the artifacts and fights using them. Of course Ezio manages to strike him down, but refuses to

Rodrigo Borgia

Rodrigo Borgia

kill him once realizing it wont bring back his loved ones. Ezio then picks up the Papal staff and apple (both artifacts of eden) and discovers an entry to the vault. This is where the game has you holding your breath and clenching onto your controller as Ezio enters the vault. At this point, the hairs all over my body are standing on end and I’m pretty freaked out (I scare easily..) Entering an unusual room, Ezio is greeted by a holograph, introducing herself as Minerva and tells her story of people who came before; speaking through him and directly to Desmond. When addressing Desmond, Ezio is perplexed and asks who this Desmond is, looking around only to find himself alone. She then tells Desmond that he is pretty much the chosen one and the earths survival comfortably rests on his shoulders. Ezio is left questioning what had just happened and Desmond leaves the Animus.

On a side note, I feel absolutely sorry for Ezio. His whole life was pretty much set out for him to be used as a tool through time just to help his descendant, while at all time having no idea of the bigger picture. He even has a saying which describes his existent: “I have lived my life as best I could, not knowing its purpose, but drawn forward like a moth to a distant moon; and here at last, I discover a strange truth. That I am only a conduit, for a message that eludes my understanding.”

Desmond and the others have to flee the hideout when Warren Vidic (the man looming over Desmond when he was in the Animus in the original game) and his goons break in to take him back. Eventually they fight them off and all escape in a van with the animus 2.0 and valuable information.

Gameplay

The gameplay for Assassins Creed improves considerably for open world exploration and interaction along with new combat featuring disarming opponents, attacking with brooms and broken spears. The player can now hire NPC’s to aid him in various missions to help

He can swim!!!

He can swim!!!

fight off guards or distract them so the assassin can swiftly pass by unnoticed, these are the mercenaries, courtesans and thieves. We can also interact more with NPC’s (other than moving out of your way) with actions of looting their bodies when fallen and pick up their limp bodies and throw, and throwing money to gather crowds of greedy people to fall at your feet scrambling for every penny they can. And when our suave assassin is hurt, players can visit the local doctor for a quick fix up and also buy medicine too.

Unlike our previous master assassin, Ezio can swim to get him around and  keep out of sight. He can also travel by boat (much faster than swimming) and ride horses whenever he wants outside the towns and cities.
Stealth options have widened with a new effortless action of blending into crowds, even when walking along with them. As mentioned before, Ezio can  swim and dive for a few seconds to remain unseen and get around giving him an edge in concealment. A knew notoriety system is introduced where along with knowing when the player is seen, it is also indicated when guards are on the lookout for them too. Notoriety can be reduced in which the player has three ways to do so. Posters around town can be removed which lowers notoriety by 25% each time. Heralds can be bribed 500 florins which lowers the notoriety by 50% and lastly, the most effective way which lowers notoriety by 75% is assassinating corrupt officials. which of course must be done unseen.  A nice feature is the cycle of day and night which also correlate with certain missions. Other nice features are the historical facts and character bios that pop up. These include information about the fictional characters and real people and services from certain people of class. Facts about the historical buildings are the main bulk of this. I actually really appreciate this, the opportunity to learn about the very surroundings that I am climbing and walking through is fantastic, and personally I take interest in these kinds of things.

Buying

Another new interactivity is purchasing items. Throughout the towns Ezio visits are shops of all sorts, ranging from weapons and armory, tailors, doctors and art merchants.
In the weapons and armor shops, Ezio can upgrade his items and buy small weapons like daggers and ammunition. Ezio can also repair his current armor which affects his health. The doctor is typically where you are healed and can buy medicine and poison. Its quite worrying that a doctor has poison in his inventory, wouldn’t you say so?
At the tailors, Ezio can customize his clothes by dyeing them and can buy pouches to keep his ammunition in; the pouches can be upgraded to hold more.
Lastly Ezio can purchase works of art from merchants for  his Monteriggioni home. Purchasing artwork upgrades the value of his home. To further the value of Monterrigioni itself, Ezio can renovate shops and buildings in the town, and once in business, he can draw in income.

Leonardo Da Vinci

In Ezio’s journey, he comes across codex pages left behind by Altair. Decoded these pages can tell more than what can be seen, but Ezio is not as bright to do so. He remembers his previous encounter with Leonardo Da Vinci, a talented young man of many skills, working ahead of his times and goes to him. Leonardo is more than happy to help out Ezio, not only because his mother supported him as an artist, but for the amazing inventions he could create from the schematics decoded in the codex pages.
Luckily for us, we get to use one of Leonardos inventions! His flying machine which is used in a mission and proves to be of great help. I

Who wouldn't want to have Leo as a best friend?!

Who wouldn’t want to have Leo as a best friend?!

always enjoyed meeting Leonardo for a further upgrade or decoding, his character is so amiable and his passion and excitement for inventing is always a pleasure to watch. Leonardo becomes close friends with Ezio, and is always delighted to see him.
With the help of Leonardo, Ezio has many more weapons:

  • Dual blades- Leonardo manages to design the blade so that the wearer would not have to lose his ring finger. He also made a second one, enabling Ezio to kill two at the same time.
  • Hidden gun/ pistol- a small firearm that’s an add on for the hidden blade, handy but gives away position if player is attempting to be unseen.
  • Poison blade- another upgrade for the hidden blade. Most effective in keeping concealed.

Missions

A range of missions have been added to this installment; creating a bigger world. These include:

  • Races
  • Contracts for assassination targets
  • Courier tasks
  • Beat up events
  • Feather collecting (similar to collecting flags in original game)
  • Unlocking viewpoints (same as original game)

    Legendary Assassin Sanctuary

    Legendary Assassin Sanctuary

There are hidden locations for Ezio to discover and explore, all of which are catacombs and caves and rewards him with treasure and a

seal. These seals represent the legendary assassins, and when Ezio finds all 6 seals, he places them in their respective places in an underground sanctuary in the Monteriggioni home. Once all seals are placed they unlock Altairs armour, which is the strongest armor in the game (and the best looking)

Another side mission (my favorite) are finding the glyph’s  marked on iconic buildings by Subject 16, and only visible by eagle vision,. During his captivity and lengthened sessions in the Animus, subject 16 discovered ‘The Truth’. Unable to share this with anyone, he hacked the Animus and hid encrypted fragments in glyph’s and then drew end of the world messages in his own blood as a way to inform the next subject. Once activated, the glyph’s displayed puzzles to solve, and when successful would give a small clips of a video. When all the glyph’s are found, the clips will piece together to reveal a video of two people, called Adam and Eve, escaping from something in a futuristic setting.

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Fundamentals

Jade works along with change. The world is growing older, changing, along with society and media. In order to make the right things, Jade has to consider peoples lifestyles including audience and age. Those two contribute to how much time people spend playing games and when they actually play them. So in order to keep up with change, she has to adapt to how gamer’s consume. So this goes with what she said, “You don’t want to make a game that no one is going to play”
She really wants games to be seen as an art form as they can be meaningful and contain rich stories. Adding more in-depth layers to create meaning to appreciate than just the surface is something she pointed out should be done. I like her view on why games can have the same adrenaline pumping effect as shooters, and it makes sense! Why can’t games have the same rush as a shooter?!
Along with these, I like Jade emphasizes on originality and how companies are scared to invest on new ideas as production is so expensive.

I like her way of thinking and working, and it’ll definitely be something I will keep in mind and learn from. I also agree with her views on originality (which will be in a little more detail in the next post)

Management

Jade now manages the Ubisoft Toronto Studios, and understands both ends of the crunch before launching a game. Most of it involves, or lacks, sleep and thus sometimes making it hard to keep everyone happy. Jade explains how its important to have a balanced work life,  there are the obvious basic needs to eat and sleep, and without those its quite hard to be creative let alone work.
In order to keep the team happy, everyone needs to feel like they’re contributing  in a way that they’re advancing. Jade uses a good comparison for this, she explains that much like video games, when you are playing and leveling up, the player has a sense of accomplishment and feels good; giving them the push to move on. These principles apply to working on games too, the small wins and the feeling of hitting mile stones motivates the team thus getting better results from them.

10-12 people join Jades Team every month, but its about 1 out of 20-30 people that are hired. And with new people joining quite often, its a bit of a task for Jade to get everyone gelling together. As mentioned before, team work is important, meaning everyone has to be getting along or has a certain bond enough to work in unison.

As Jade has started a new team in Toronto and working on Splinter Cell, she mentions something really important and something I will take as advice (though I’ve been mentally noting everything down.) When you start a foundation with low ambitions, you’ll only attract junior designers who are starting out new and prefer to work on smaller projects. But the down side of that is that no senior designer would be interested, and companies need them to teach the juniors. So in Jades situation where she has started off making a major game, many seniors would be interesting in working on the project too, which is a good start for the team.

Jade Raymond and her team

Jade Raymond

When Jade was in school, she was selected to take part in an after-school experiment. Jade and another student were given assignments to program robots and such within the given tasks. These tests were to see if the schools could assimilate computers into curriculum’s and from the amount of joy she got from building, it was these activities that got her into programming.

In 1994 she graduated from Marianopolis University then McGills University in 1998 for computer science. Soon after graduating, she started working as a programmer at Sony for 3 years and as she worked her way up gradually she found herself in EA producing The Sims Online. After that she was assigned as producer for Assassins Creed once she started working for Ubisoft Montreal. 

She brings a background of programming to the table but she apparently also paints and attended fine art classes.
Another skill she believes to have is “knowing whats best”. Unusual as it sounds, she strongly believes this and has had it proven by happy feedback whenever shes recommended something. She makes a point that as a producer knowing whats best is a good skill, to know what idea is good and which direction to go, and I agree.
I think the position she’s in is the position of knowing whats best, there’s no way a game can go forward when its led by someone who thinks something is going well, any sign of indecisiveness could be the downfall of a project. (Something I need to work on!)

Assassins Creed Anonymous

Hi. My names Jawairiya and I love Assassins Creed. (Hiiiiiiii Jawairiya)
Assassins Creed is the parent of a huge fan base growing with each new installment. There’s nothing surprising about being an AC fan, it’s common, and with its successful size, its also open to hate and criticism. Branded as another mainstream game, criticized for its repetitiveness, originality, controversy, gameplay, characters, just anything that’s in fire range for those who aren’t particularly fond of it. But I find it ultimately entertaining and interesting, I love the characters, the story and the whole concept of the game!
But this isn’t about my opinions, enough with them for now, I might bring it up later! However this post and onward will be about Jade Raymond, the producer of Assassins Creed and executive producer of Assassins Creed II.

Although Raymond is hyped up, Pratrice Desilets is the main guy to be credited for Assassins creed. But I’m focusing on Jade Raymond for the reason of her being a woman. Not because she’s a pretty woman, but for the fact that she is a woman. A woman who is in a very comfortable level in the industry. Being a woman/girl myself, I am pleased to see what position shes in, its inspiring and admirable and honestly speaking, I want that too. I want that success and be high up on the ladder where its known for only men to roam!

Raymond is mainly known for her work in:

  • Assassins Creed
  • Assassins Creed II
  • The Sims Online
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (releasing 2013 spring )