Assassin’s Creed 2 Teaches You About Italy

Yes, we got Assassin’s Creed 2 before North America. Singapore had it since Thursday, 4 March 2010. I received an SMS (that’s “text message to you Westerners) from my regular game shop at 1pm saying that it was in Singapore. By 6pm I had a copy in my hands, and by 6.30 I was already home and installing it.

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The copy-protection on this however, is a little too extreme. It says it “requires” a constant Internet Connection for it to work. That’s lame, because what happens if you’re not on Broadband, but on dialup, and each minute you’re on dialup costs you money?! That is irrelevant in Singapore since everyone is already on Broadband, but it affects people in other locales.

Secondly, what happens if Ubisosft servers are experiencing heavy loads? We can’t connect to “authenticate” and thus we can’t play it? The North America launch is coming on 9th March, that is tomorrow. You can expect a sudden spike in users trying to authenticate to your servers, Ubisoft.

That’s exactly what happened to me the other day – Ubisoft Servers actually went down (see “Related Articles” below). The game just quit suddenly to desktop, and when I tried to relaunch, it was stuck at he Login screen of the launcher for about 5 mins. Then when the game started and I chose “Story Mode”, the game went to a screen saying “please wait, contacting server” and the only option available at that screen was “Exit To Windows”.

At least Bioware doesn’t force the requirement on the user. Dragon Age, for example, just says the achievements and scores won’t be updated on your web profile. Mass Effect 2 just tells you that you won’t get Cerberus goodies if you don’t have an internet connection. They do NOT stop you from playing their game!

And game companies wonder why people continue to get pirated copies.


Ok, enough with the rants.

The game itself is pretty impressive. After about 4 days of playing this, I can tell you one thing – I learnt alot more about Italy (and some bits of the Italian language) in these 4 days than I ever did at school.

The game takes place in Italy. It starts off in Florence, in 1476 or so. When you come across various landmarks, some of  which you have to climb, a database entry crops up  and you can read about the history of that place. Currently my playthrough has me stationed in Venice (or “Venezia” as they called it). The game hero also is friends with the famous Leonardo Da Vinci, and it’s funny how they portrayed him in the game. Funny as in “ha ha” funny.

Now you get 2 hidden blades compared to Altair, for one thing. You can do double kills silently. You can also fight unarmed, and then disarm your opponent and use HIS weapon against him.  I love doing that to those guys in armour carrying lances (“Brutes” as they are called in the game). I always disarm them and use their weapon back on them.

Also, they made Assassin’s Creed 2 more RPG-like. Now you can upgrade your armour and weapons. You earn money by doing sidequests like “Beat Up The Husband” and “Assassin Contracts”. In the story, you are given a pretty run-down villa and you can use the money you earned to upgrade it. An upgraded villa provides a source of passive income for you. Every once in a while, you should return to your villa and collect the money. Right now my villa provides me about 74,000 worth of florins, which I take it to be the currency of Italy during the Renaissance. Trust me, that is a lot of money. You can buy anything with that amount of money, not counting the income you have from completing quests and continuing with the story. There was once I had about 200,000 florins on me all at once, before I spent it on upgrading the Villa and buying weapons and armour and such.

They also introduced new ways you can kill silently. Dropping from a ledge will activate the air-kill. If you’re hanging off a ledge below someone, you can reach up, pierce him with the hidden blade and pull him over the edge in one fluid motion. Or, you can hide in a haystack, wait for your victim to come along and then reach out, pierce him with the blade, and pull him into the haystack.

Here’s a video of me doing a funny series of haystack kills on the city guards:

Learn more at the Assassin’s Creed 2 Wiki

The one thing I found very interesting was the Italian language, and realising where our modern words came from. “Coffee” is “cafe”, and milk is “latte”. Then I noticed they called young ladies “madonna”. Interesting indeed!

There are also interesting and funny tidbits of information about famous historical figures in the game. For example, I took on a courier mission and read the note – it was from Michaelangelo (yes, THAT Michaelangelo, not the Ninja Turtle) to his father, explaining why he quit school and wanted to go into painting and sculpting. He hoped his father won’t be too disappointed and that he’ll prove that it was the right decision one day, and hoped his father will forgive him.

Right now I’ve spent about 40 hours in the game, and I’m still only halfway through I think. As I said before, the current gameplay only placed me in Venice, having just escorted Leonardo Da Vinci there.

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