Review Guild's Assassin's Creed II: Discovery Review

Guild McCommunist

(not on boat)
May 6, 2009
The Danger Zone
United States
Hm, where's that other Assassin's Creed game? You know, the handheld one? I really don't kn- BLAAAAAAAAH BLAAAH BLAAAH! If you didn't know, that was this review sneaking up from behind and stabbing you in the throat. Anyway, with ACII being one of the bigger releases this year, there's of course its overshadowed DS cousin. So, how does AC play portable? Well, it sneaks up from behind, flicks out a dagger, and stabs you in the back. In a good way.


First off, don't say "THAT'S A CONSOLE ACII BANNER YOU'RE DUMB!" It's a generic banner, shut up. Second, I played it on my trusty R4 with Rudolph's patch, which makes the game work but it will occasionally freeze after finishing a level as well as have some rare audio farts. I didn't take any of those into my account since they weren't severe enough to take away from the game.

So, Assassin's Creed made a pretty big splash on the HD consoles a few years ago, and made a much less splash on the DS with Altair's Chronicles (it actually has that stupid German double dot over the "i", according to Wikipedia. What is that thing called again?). AC: AC (heh, that's a terrible abbreviation) was met with mixed reviews. Some liked it, some didn't. With a new studio in place and a new game, how does it fair? Well, as I said before, it's quite good.

The plot follows Ezio, the new protagonist of the story, fifteen years after the events of Assassin's Creed II. After he gets wind of some douchey Inquisitors in Spain rounding up assassins, he decides to go free them, killing douchey Spainards and plenty of guards along the way. I haven't played any Creed games since this one, so I'm no expert on the plot. It's got a nice deal of short cutscenes to present the story and the plot progression isn't too rapid, I guess. It's nothing as deep as its counterpart AC games will be, plot wise, but I never really expected it to be on the DS.

The main change in Creed here compared to its DS predecessor is the switch to a 2.5D, side scroller view, thusly making it a platformer of sorts. It also no longer uses stylus controls; everything is mapped to the buttons. That's great, since we've learned that platforming + stylus = mediocrity (well, from what I can think of). Jump with B, attack with Y, throw knives with A (you'll unlock those early in the game), do actions with X, go into Stealth (a slower moving, more cautious mode) with L, and block with R. No complicated button combinations here, it's just simple and effective. The controls are nice and responsive, too. You'll move and fast speeds, almost like Sonic the Hedgehog games, killing baddies and the like. Combat isn't highly elaborate at all, but that can be a pro or con, depending on your book. You can block attacks, guard break when a bad guy attacks you for a counter attack, and do a generic three-button combo, as well as break an enemies guard by doing a 4-button, properly timed combo. Stealth kills, on the other hand, are instant and done if you're behind an enemy and undetected. The huge issue I have with the game is simply just "jumps of faith", as I call them. There's more times than one that you'll not know what's after a jump. It could be a fall to your death, a safe landing, or a bunch of baddies to kill you or blow your cover. It can be quite annoying at times, although they did structure the game so that most jumps will result in you going where you're supposed to. Anyway, the game is split into three types of missions: Normal, Stealth, and Chase, and all of them are great. Normal Missions are just that: normal. You'll be running through the level trying to get to an objective, fighting guards and platforming along the way. They may not be innovative, really, but they're still a hell of a lot of fun. Stealth Missions rely on being sneaky and killing enemies without being undetected. If you're spotted more than 3 times, it's game over. The stealth here, if a little simple, is done very well on the 2-D plane. You can see what directions enemies are facing on the map, letting you know when to sneak up on them. There's also background scenery, such as carts of hay and barrels that you can hide in, so that once an unsuspecting guard passes, you can pop out and slaughter them. You can also pull enemies off of ledges too, a very funny feature. The final mission type, Chase Missions, is probably the weakest of the three but still good. It focuses platforming above all else and plays a lot like Sonic, except with arrows flying at you. You'll have to run through the streets of Italy and Spain, avoiding bad guys and dodging arrows. Again, the blind jumps can be annoying here, as well as a lot of "trial and error" situations, but after one or two failures you'll learn how to get past a section. On the note of platforming, Ezio's acrobatics are amazing. I think the Prince of Persia may shit his pants here. You can run at Eusane Bolt speeds, climb walls, do backflips, swing on poles, hang on ledges, jump of walls, all that cool stuff. It's really quite stunning and it makes platforming so much fun and so very unique for 2.5D games. Overall, Creed really does bring a lot to the table for platforming and action.

Graphically and audio wise, the game is fairly impressive. For graphics, the one thing you'll love is the stealth kill animations. When you go to kill someone in stealth, you'll enter a short video of you performing one of a few different types of kills. You may simply stab him in the back, turn him around and stab him a few times, or even do a running jump on him and stab him in the head. They can get a little repetitive now and then, but they're just so satisfying to watch that you won't really mind a whole lot. You can also add yourself to the Wanted posters around town. It's a useless feature used only to combat pirates, mind you, but it's still a neat thing if you have a DSi, I guess. The only issue I have with the graphics here are that I did notice some slowdown, mainly when doing a ramp jump, but nothing too severe. The lack of cutscenes that aren't on a 2-D plane are a bummer, too. I would've liked more cutscenes in the style of the stealth kills or even animated videos. The audio here is also done pretty well. All text is voice acted, something you don't see too often for DS games. The sound effects for stabbing and slashing are also just as tasty as the stealth kill animations. What point is stabbing a guy through his back if you can't hear the knife going through his armor and flesh? The background music is decent, but nothing awe-worthy.

Overall, Assassin's Creed II: Discovery may be the forgotten cousin of the Creed family, but it's still a damn fine game. It takes platforming, action, and stealth and fits it all together on a 2-D perspective. And works. All the gameplay aspects of the game are good, complemented by satisfying graphics and sound. For what may appear to be the "weakling" of Creed games, it sure does pack a punch with a dagger in between.

Presentation: The storyline isn't nearly as inclusive as previous Creed games, but isn't a bad one by any means. The change to a 2.5D perspective makes the game work so much better than Altair's Chronicles as well. Menus are easy to navigate and nice looking. 8.5/10

Graphics: Some rare slowdown, but the graphics look nice for a 2.5D. Stealth kill animations are awesome, though, if a little repetitive. The DSi feature of adding photos of yourself to Wanted posters was a clear tack-on to stop pirates, but I assume it's not terrible if you're a DSi owner.8.7/10

Sound: Full voice acting in the game is nice, even if it's not the best voiceover work. Dagger sounds are a nice compliment to the kill animations. Background music isn't anything to call home about, but gives some nice atmosphere. 8.3/10

Gameplay: Creed's knew 2.5D perspective is a great move here. Platforming is excellent, stealth is great, and controls are top notch (no stylus controls!). Blind jumps are annoying, but aren't numerous enough to really hamper the game significantly. Everything from stealth to combat is simple, which can be a pro or con to some people. 8.9/10

Lasting Appeal: The adventure isn't all too long, but you can always go back to improve your score as well as get extras. There's a nice amount of challenge here to keep you hooked until the end, which comes a little too soon for my liking. 8/10

Overall: 8.4/10

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