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Nov
12
PermalinkSaving private Supermarius, return of the wicker man gladiator king - RYSE
WARNING: Snape kills Dumbledore and Marius kills a whole bunch of guys. Eat your food before the expiration date to avoid spoiling, and also don’t read this blog.

Just writing a shorter blog in between entries of my AC series, and Ryse is the next victim.
As I am a Roman history nut, I’ll be comparing it to its source material (Nero’s reign and Boudica’s revolt) a little, but the game’s story is 90% made-up for fun-factor, and that’s perfectly alright.

Saving private Supermarius, return of the wicker man gladiator king - RYSE
You’ll get a Ryse out of this blog, haha! Am I right guys? ...guys? ...guys? :(

_______________________________________
A daring video game excursion into history, faithfully reconstructed from real Hollywood stereotypes and 20th Century anachronisms. -wetakebribes.com

Too much violence in a product which must, like all videogames, be meant exclusively for children. Marius is yum yum though. -Concerned mother hub.

Extensive character customization including the heights of 1st century gladiator fashion.
-Vogue

The epic tale of Generic Roman™ who seeks revenge against barbarians broadly and their right arms in particular. -Satirists anonymous.

Young Roman thinks his sword isn’t big enough to kill emperor Nero, overcompensates. -Awfulplotsynopsis.com

10/10 steaming pile of Boudica’s elephant dung.
-IGN

This game’s Rysing star was never brighter! -Puntasticpunnery

Fristi’s blog sucks, the review headlines are almost the same as in his Toro blog. -An anonymous critic who’d do well to shut the fuck up before I send Boudica’s elite squad of Briton elephants to trample his ass.
_______________________________________

Story

Meet Supermarius AKA Generic Roman™. His superpowers include slowing down enemies around him to a crawl, executing barbarians so stylishly that the other barbarians can’t help but stand around uselessly in admiration of his ass instead of backstabbing him in this obviously vulnerable moment, swimming in plate armour, only having a last name (which doesn’t even match that of his father), and having the strongest right arm in the Roman army (I wonder how) making him throw his pila far beyond their normal effective range.

Supermarius fights his way to and through the Imperial palace, cutting through the utterly useless hordes of barbarians who all dropped out from fighting school, as Rome is being invaded by Generic Barbarian Stereotype Army™. Because Supermarius wants to have a word with emperor Nero to utter his grievances about the current state of domestic and foreign policies.

Supermarius then decides he wants to try his hand at being narrator for most of the rest of the game, played as flashbacks during his conversation with emperor Nero.

In the magic land of Ten Years Ago™, Marius has just come home from finishing his legionary training and it is therefore obligatory for his father to train him all over again, because 5 minutes of sparring with dad accomplishes more than 4 months of Roman army training, apparently.
Marius’ family, along with all other political opponents of Nero, then conveniently gets murdered by a bunch of barbarians. Nobody puts 2 and 2 together and Marius decides to follow his dad’s friend Vitallion to go kill some barbarians in Britain.

Next, we’re landing in Britain and… it’s 6 June 1944 only everybody decided to wear Roman-era costumes. During Roman D-Day, the Britons raise a naval chain and the Roman galleys promptly decide to smash into each other like slapstick humor from some old cartoon movie or something.
In the first demonstration of his Supermarius-ness, Marius falls off a ship, swims to safety in metal armour, rallies the other shipwrecked Romans, and quasi-single-handedly takes out the chain towers. Then the Roman-era preconstruction of Omaha Beach can truly begin, complete with shellshock-inducing shore batteries.

In the next mission, our wise commander Vitallion instructs us to single-handedly invade the Briton headquarters and capture King Oswald and her daughter Boudica. Supermarius will get the job done.
Now it’s Jungle Warfare time, complete with boobytraps and hanging corpses, and then we fight our way through a Roman aqueduct and, finally, a cave. Because the King of the Britons lives in a cave. Okay. We capture Oswald and Boudica and with that Supermarius has single-handedly defeated the revolt.

But we still have to rescue the emperor’s son who is being held captive by a tribe further North who… I can only assume are meant to be the ancient Scots. Clearly the lead developer must have gotten some pretty bad food poisoning from eating haggis once and decided to artistically express this traumatic event by depicting Scotland as Spooky Horror Forest™ and turning the ancient Scots into ridiculous skull-wearing Neanderthals.

Meet Glott. Glott likes sacrificing Roman generals in enormous wickerman-burning rituals, drinking moonshine in the moonshine, long walks at the beach, and the occasional game of Mariusball. We thus find ourselves kicked off a cliff and separated from Vitallion, who is captured with the intent of being used as a human marshmallow.
Supermarius to the rescue! We regroup with some fellow Romans, kill Glott and save Vitallion and Commodus.

Safely back in Roman territory, Commodus decides to kill the captive King Oswald. The Britons telepathically sense that their leader has been murdered and thus immediately commence the siege of York’s Deep or Yorkas Tirith or whatever epic movie siege they were trying to imitate here.
Supermarius shall fight on the walls, Supermarius shall fight on the streets, Supermarius shall fight in the courthouse which for no discernible reason is flanked with humongous Egyptian obelisks, Supermarius shall fight on a bridge after doing Manly Armholding Moment™ with Vitallion, Supermarius shall never surrender!
A group of Britons eventually decides to play some Mariusball and kicks him off a bridge. But mysterious goddess lady drops a dagger in his hand, allowing him to magically come back to life and (presumably) teleport all the way back to Rome.

Now finally realizing the emperor’s family was behind his family’s murder, he decides to take vengeance.
In a completely novel and unprecedented plot engine never seen before in any modern popular depiction of the Roman era, he decides to become a gladiator with a spiky face-covering helmet to exact revenge against the emperor of Rome, and ends up killing Commodus in the Colosseum.

But Boudica’s army, now trained in the art of elephant-riding by the powers of deus ex machina, is attacking Rome.
Vitallion engages Boudica in combat, who stabs him in the chest. Fortunately her attack fails because swords do not penetrate metal armour ...never mind he is wearing some kind of cardboard knock-off made in China and dies. That’s what you get for supporting foreign companies, I tell ya!

After a bunch of elephant-dodging shenanigans, it is Supermarius’ turn to fight Boudica.
Ryse now challenges you with not falling asleep during the most boring end boss fight of recent history, where Boudica will flail her twin swords around like a carnival artist for approximately half a minute after which Supermarius can manage to get exactly one hit in. Rinse and repeat until - Ding Dong! - the witch is gone and we’re back to where the game started.

Having finished his 3-hour Powerpoint presentation about his grievances, Supermarius now proceeds to not give a shit about being stabbed fatally over and over again by praetorian guards and kills Nero by impaling him on his own statue. Now that the plot is finished, Supermarius proceeds to bleed out and die as well.
Every. Single. Character. Is. Now. Dead. The developers REALLY didn’t want to have to make a sequel for this game.

Overall, Ryse is interesting.
If you take it as a historical game it is absolutely nonsensical and aggravating, but if you take it as a spoof/satire of WWII movie tropes transposed to the Roman era, then it is actually pretty hilarious.

Oh yeah, there were gods involved in the story as well, but that was kinda vague.

History and stuff

Yes, I can’t help myself. History section it is.
I mean, I could rant for ages about the legions being stationed in the wrong places (2nd Legion in Alexandria, my ass!), or the various Hollywood tropes like using catapults against moving targets or using flaming arrows against anything that’s not a thatch roof (neither of which was at all practical), or the fact that Roman catapults in real life would fire a projectile the size of a human head at most, or the fact that the Colosseum apparently imports Hwachas from 16th century Korea, or the fact that the Colosseum wasn’t even built yet in Nero’s time, or the ridiculous “barbarian” stereotypes, or…, or…, or...
Let’s just focus on the things that they did get right, okay?

The Roman “Lorica Segmentata” plate armour was light enough that swimming with it was probably somewhat possible as long as you weren’t encumbered with anything else (and Marius wasn’t). So, yay! One less thing to bitch about.

Dover and York were indeed Roman cities (then called Dubris and Eboracum respectively), although the Romans hadn’t actually expanded as far north as York yet by the time of Nero and Boudica.

Nero did have a giant statue made in his image. It was a bronze colossus comparable in size to the Statue of Liberty. After Nero died, they made some changes to the head to represent the sun god Sol instead. It was destroyed at an unknown point during the early Middle Ages, though the pedestal survived into the 20th Century. Needless to say, Nero didn’t end up being impaled on it.

The “wickerman burning” human sacrifice ritual done by Glott and his ridiculous minotaurbarians actually has a bit of historical basis. Julius Caesar wrote about this practice in the records of his (failed) expedition to Britain. Now, Julius Caesar may very well have made the wickerman burning stuff up to propagandize the supposed savagery of his Briton enemies, but at least it has some historical basis and it’s kind of neat that the game runs with it.

There is a legendary Greek figure called Damocles but his story has absolutely nothing to do with betrayal and revenge or anything like that.

The Scorpio is fairly like its real-life counterpart, as it was indeed a small anti-personnel ballista with very high accuracy that only needed one man to operate it. It was kind of like a fixed “sniper” type of weapon. The only thing is that the in-game rate of fire is 20-30 times faster than it was in real life.

Okay so, generic stuff out of the way, let’s talk a bit about Nero’s reign and Boudica’s revolt, which inspired the game’s story.

Nero never lived to be an old and grey man like in the game. He ruled from his 16th to his death at age 30. He had only one child, a daughter, who died as an infant during the 4th month of her life. Really, aside from being both narcissists, he has little in common with the ‘Nero’ from the game.

Boudica’s revolt did however really happen during his reign, and it was a bloody mess. At this point, the Romans had only occupied southern Britain for less than 2 decades.
One of the tribes of Britain, the Iceni, were at this time allies, yes, allies of Rome. Well, on paper.
Their king lacked a male heir, so he decides to leave the Iceni to be ruled jointly by the Romans and his daughters after his death. So what happens? As soon as the old fella keels over, the Romans just waltz in and outright annex the bunch. Then they go on to rape the king’s daughters and flog his wife for good measure.

That king’s wife’s name was Boudica, and she was not happy.

She goes on to muster an impressive force of Britons, and destroys several Roman towns, including Roman London, massacring her way through an estimated 70.000 to 80.000 civilians and nearly wiping out a Roman legion in the process.
The Romans at this point are panicking, and are considering withdrawal from Britain altogether.

Still, the Roman governor manages to rally a good amount of the remaining Roman forces in the area and, though massively outnumbered, decides to do battle.
The Britons happily prepare to slaughter this puny Roman army. They arrange a line of wagons on their side of the battlefield from which their families can spectate and cheer them on as they crush the remaining Roman resistance.

This turned out to be a huge, huge mistake.

The Romans, being better equipped and trained, manage to repel the initial Briton attack. The Britons, attempting to withdraw from the initial assault, now find their way blocked by the wagons and their retreat turns into a desperate scramble of a massive Briton mob trying to work their way past an obstacle.

The Britons had trapped themselves.

The Romans go on to butcher the disorganized Briton army by the thousands, including the spectating women, children, and even the pack animals. Boudicca escaped, but either killed herself or died of disease shortly afterwards. So much for the revolt.

So suffice to say it was a mess for everyone involved. While the details have likely been exaggerated, it was evidently a dumb, senseless spectacle of bloodshed that the Romans brought upon themselves.

King Oswald is entirely made-up (maybe a reference to a later medieval king with that name), as is Glott. The rebellion never spread to mainland Europe and certainly never reached Rome itself.

As for Nero, his in-game representation has so little to do with him that I don’t want to get much into his life and the batshit things he is supposed to have done, many of which were likely slander or exaggerations propagated by the subsequent emperors who overthrew him.

I’ll talk about his death, since that’s relevant to the game. His tax policies sparked the revolts of several Roman governors, and the legions under their command. Some fighting later, popular support switches to the revolt, of which the leader has already declared himself to be the new emperor.
The Praetorian Guard abandons Nero, who, after a good bit of panicking, tried to flee, then tried to find a random gladiator to kill him, then tried to kill himself, but didn’t have the nerve and got his secretary to do the deed for him.

The following year is known as the “Year of the Four Emperors” in which one pretender after the other seizes Rome and kills the previous emperor in the process. The 4th one, Vespasian, restores stability and founds the Flavian dynasty. Oh and he’s also the guy who (together with his son) will build the Colosseum, which segues nicely to:

Multiplayer

The colosseum obviously didn’t have some highly sophisticated tile-based map grid mechanism that could pull entire pyramids out of an infinite void like it does in the game, nor could it summon weather conditions such as rains or sandstorms at will, but there was some pretty fancy stuff.
During the early days it could be flooded (though we’re not sure how it was made to be waterproof) and apparently there were some reenactments of naval battles.
There is historical basis for the “maps” within the colosseum and how they might change between rounds. Games in the Colosseum could indeed feature movable plants and buildings as part of the stage.

Reenacting battles in the colosseum was a thing and the mockery of defeated enemies of Rome was one of the functions of the games.

The combat system of RYSE is fun enough but, man, playing the same maps over and over to get to level 200 for the final achievement is a grind!

Which is why I’m kind of surprised they didn’t decide to mix things up a little by taking a cue from history and having different gladiator classes to play as, or something.
Because, yes, real-life gladiator games were class based!

Caestus fighters, who were equipped with no armour and only a big ass combat glove, a single punch of which could knock out an opponent.
Hoplomachus, armed with a spear and a small shield.
Secutors and Murmillos, those would be like the current one in-game, with a sword and a large rectangular shield. The only difference between the two was the type of helmet.
The Retiarius, uses a trident and a net to try to catch enemies and then stab them.
The Thraex, armed with a curved sword and a small shield.
Just to name a few...

That could have been a cool addition to breathe some more life into multiplayer, as it kinda needs it, at least for us achievement hunters. Oh well.



I guess that’s all I have to say on RYSE. Fun game but kinda bonkers, hehe.
Posted by Fristi61 on 12 November 17 at 12:42 | Last edited on 12 November 17 at 17:08 | There are 5 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Oct
27
PermalinkDouble euphemisms in Renaissance Italy - Assassin's Creed II, AC Blog #4
WARNING: Uhm, it’s long. Like, really long.

WARNING 2, WARNING HARDER: Contains Snapekillsdumbledores, don’t want Dumbledore to be killed by Snape? Don’t read this blog.
Want to read the blog without seeing Snapekillsdumbledores? Kill Dumbledore yourself so Snape doesn’t get the chance, prior to reading the blog.

WARNING 3 WITH A VENGEANCE: Did I mention it’s long? ...Yes I am still talking about the blog!

So my AC1 blog was… oh goodness me, quite a while ago. So for the next installment I am going to be horribly predictable and cover AC2.

“Okay Fristi, so why is this blog so damn long? What are you overcompensating for?”
Excellent observation, imaginary conversation partner! I am overcompensating for…! Wait, ahem, okay, no.
AC2 for starters covers 23 years of history (40 if you count the baby segment) as opposed to AC1, which covers a few months at most. Then there’s the fact that so many features were added to the gameplay, and the story has a lot more twists and turns.

So without further ado then:

DOUBLE EUPHEMISMS IN RENAISSANCE ITALY - ASSASSIN’S CREED II
If there was ever a video game character that’d have two hidden blades it’d be Ezio, right?

Story/characters overview

After the obligatory recap video of the previous game, Lucy enters the Abstergo lab/prison and rushes us into the animus.
First thing we see is Maria Auditore, Ezio’s mother, screaming in agony as he is born. I wonder how the animus is able to see this from the outside perspective when Ezio is not yet born. Shouldn’t we be seeing Ezio’s perspective from the inside of…? ...Oh God, no, skip that thought.
Ahem, well, Ezio originally seems to be stillborn when Ezio’s father Giovanni, who was probably delayed by having to do some murdering in service of his bff the despot of Florence, comes in and takes the child in his arms.
Now we press some buttons and, lo and behold, baby Ezio decides to start breathing anyway. He instantly regrets this decision and starts crying as the all-crushing weight of consciousness sets upon him. Then his sadist parents start to laugh at his first attempts to breathe.
...I believe I have adequately twisted this wholesome family moment for now.

Lucy immediately wakes you up again. It isn’t really explained why it was necessary for Lucy to rush Desmond into briefly experiencing Ezio as a baby, but it does establish right off the bat that family is a major theme and Ezio, unlike Altair, actually has one. With that, one of gaming’s most popular characters ever is born.

Next you get to be Lucy’s shitty comic sidekick while the two of you escape Abstergo. You can have fun stumbling about as you get your butt kicked by a horde of guards in the parking garage who weren’t polite enough to explain to you the combat controls first.
Whatever, Lucy will do all the dirty work for you while Desmond plays the role of human punching bag.

We arrive at a modern-day assassin hideout where we meet our two new assassin “friends”, Shawn and Rebecca. Shawn is a sarcastic, grumpy, no-life history nerd who I can’t relate to at all. Rebecca is the girl who, for deus ex machina reasons, has single-handedly managed to replicate the entire damn animus.
They and Lucy want to train Desmond into a master assassin. Realising the hopelessness of this task, they decide to just put him in the animus so he’ll take over Ezio’s abilities and hopefully not go insane in the process. I sure have some questions about the assassin internship program.

The game decides to skip ahead to 17 years after Ezio’s birth, so we won’t be stealthing around in kindergarten, trying to assassinate the toddler that stole our pacifier. Probably a wise decision by Ubisoft there.
Instead, we find ourself in a rather memorable brawl on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, which serves as the unarmed combat tutorial and an introduction to Ezio’s teenage rival Vieri de’ Pazzi and Ezio’s brother Federico. Vieri’s henchmen are nice enough to pay for your medical bill during the “looting money and paying the doctor for healing” tutorial.

We then race Federico to the top of a church in the climbing/freerunning tutorial before Ezio decides he wants to go have sex with his girlfriend, Cristina, while Vieri patrols around her house. Because what else but Ezio trying to get laid would make for a fitting stealth tutorial in his first game?
The next morning, Cristina’s angry dad barges into the room and Ezio has to escape the guards he summons. Because what else but Ezio trying to escape from his girlfriend’s angry dad would make for a fitting escape tutorial in his first game?

In all seriousness, one thing that’s immediately noticeable is how much better the tutorials are worked into the game’s story, compared to AC1.

Ezio arrives home, his father Giovanni tries to give him a stern lecture but succumbs to his son’s puppy-eyed charm within approximately five seconds.
Ezio then gets to run some errands for his dad and family. We deliver some letters for Giovanni while he has a chat with that nice old family friend, Uberto Alberti. Then we collect some feathers for our sickly younger brother Petruccio (we never do find out what he wants with those) and we console our sister Claudia who suspects her boyfriend has been cheating on her. She switches comically fast from sad and helpless to “hey Ezio go beat that guy up for me”, and we happily oblige.
We also go visit a young Leonardo da Vinci with our mother to buy some paintings, sparking a lifelong friendship between him and Ezio.

Now that we’ve been introduced to our family and friends, the game decides to promptly kill half of them off as Giovanni, Federico and Petruccio are arrested by the Florentine guard. Ezio manages to “visit” his father in jail, and is sent back home to retrieve the evidence of his innocence. Ezio also finds his dad’s assassin clothes and, without knowing what they really are, decides to put them on for no apparent reason. They probably just represented his current mood and he needed some self-expression or something. The fashion police promptly tries to kill him in Ezio’s first sword fight while we go deliver the evidence to that nice old family friend Uberto Alberti who is sure to help.

Of course, the next day Uberto Alberti pretends to not have any evidence and hangs all 3 male Auditore members. Uberto is so good at his turncoat job that he even manages to convince the public that Petruccio is a “collaborator” too.

After the hanging of his family, Ezio goes to the only logical place for “help”: the brothel,
where Paola teaches Ezio how to “mix” with people and get money from them. Sadly, I’m just talking social stealth and pickpocketing.
After that tutorial, Paola, being awfully familiar with Leonardo da Vinci’s “skills”, sends us to get him to fix Ezio’s “hidden blade”. Leo does this with the help of a codex page from Giovanni which he promptly deciphers.
Leonardo then pretends to cut off our ring finger as a “joke” when an angry guard, who moonlights as a comedy critic, knocks on the door and starts interrogating him and beating him up, giving us the opportunity to test our hidden blade on him (the guard, not Leonardo). Then we put his body with the other corpses Leonardo keeps for “research”.
If we find any more codex pages, Leo will happily decipher them for us from now on.

With our hidden blade all fixed up we go and kill Uberto in our first proper assassination.
Paola then teaches us how to reduce our notoriety. Who knew that ripping off just 4 posters would exonerate you of any crime?
Ezio then reunites with his sister and mother. Claudia doesn’t know about her father and brothers’ death yet and Ezio has to break it to her. Maria has stopped talking altogether in the easiest voice actor role of 2009.
Now that our notoriety has cooled down, we are clear to leave Florence to go to our uncle, Mario Auditore, who lives in Monteriggioni, for help.

Arriving at Monteriggioni, we are attacked by Vieri but luckily uncle Wario shows up to save us. He then shows us around his villa, dropping some casual hints that it is in bad shape and oh if only someone would just sort that mess out and pay an architect a shitload of money to fix it.
Luigi is surprised to learn that Ezio is actually completely clueless about the Assassins and Templars, so he convinces Ezio to stay for a bit of training, during which he explains Ezio about the birds and bees. This is just a short training mission in the game but according to the DNA tracker it is actually 2 years of Ezio’s life.
Of course Princess Peach would have hoped that Ezio would stay to finish his father’s work but instead Ezio decides to bring his family to safety in Spain so Daisy angrily leaves to deal with Vieri himself.

Ezio feels remorse at this, so he rushes to San Gimignano where Goomba has gone to deal with Vieri de’ Pazzi, who has occupied the town with Pazzi family-employed mercenaries. Together with Toad, we assault the city before being sent after Vieri. We overhear a short meeting between various members of the Pazzi family and a Mysterious Spanish Man™ and then kill Vieri. Ezio lets loose a barrage of insults at his corpse before Waluigi teaches him to respect his fallen enemy, an important character moment for Ezio.

In another important character moment, Ezio decides to take on all of his father’s work, including the collection of all of the pages from Altair’s codex.

Yoshi then teaches Ezio to spend all his money on buying him paintings and renovating the villa while Claudia manages his finances. Then he wants you to collect all the tomb seals to unlock the armour in his basement because he’s too lazy for that as well.

We visit Leonardo back in Florence, who equips us with a second “hidden blade” and teaches us some fancy new “techniques” such as using it from a “hiding place”.
My inability to write a blog about Ezio without innuendos aside, Ezio searches out “La Volpe” (which just means “The Fox”) in order to find Vieri’s dad, Francesco de’ Pazzi, who is clearly up to no good. La Volpe directs Ezio to eavesdrop on a Templar meeting in the catacombs. Those Templars will get pneumonia from meeting in places like this. No wonder they all die young.

Ezio doesn’t learn too much from the meeting and isn’t able to prevent the first major historical event in the game, the Pazzi conspiracy, from taking place. In this conspiracy the Pazzi attempt to overthrow the Medici as the ruling family of the “Republic” of Florence in an assassination/coup attempt. Ezio is able to save Lorenzo de’ Medici (who was Giovanni Auditore’s best friend) but not his younger brother Giuliano, before chasing down and assassinating Francesco.
Ezio seems to have learned his lesson and pays him the proper respects. Of course, his body is then hanged naked from a building, so…

Following another “meeting” with Leonardo, our “hidden blade” is now “capable of delivering poison”. (Let me know in the comments how old these hidden blade jokes are getting on a scale from dinosaur to precambrian macroorganism)
Ezio spends the next 2 years being Lorenzo’s personal hitman as he cleans up the surviving members of the Pazzi conspiracy with the help of scouts employed by Bowser. Ezio can now also complete various assassination side-missions for Lorenzo, which doesn’t really agree with the assassin philosophy of freedom as, really, Lorenzo was a despot who used his wealth to subvert the Florentine Republic and effectively rule alone, and now Ezio is helping him increase his power. It shows the Assassins being quite flexible with their ideology there, though to be fair Lorenzo was a pretty benevolent ruler all-round.

The 4 “minor” Pazzi conspirators (Antonio Maffei, Francesco Salviati, Bernardo Baroncelli & Stefano de Bagnone) can be tackled in any order, before it is time to take care of Jacopo de’ Pazzi who was Francesco’s dad and Vieri’s granddad.
We tail Jacopo to a Templar “performance review”, where Emilio Barbarigo and Mysterious Spanish Man™ aka Rodrigo Borgia show him the Templars’ “severance policy”, saving Ezio some work.

Ezio travels to Venice with Leonardo who by one awfully convenient coincidence is needed there as well. On the way we get a carriage gameplay sequence to mix things up and we meet Caterina Sforza who has apparently teleported to a rock in the middle of the water and has run out of mana to teleport back (I can think of no other way she would have gotten on that dumb rock without being able to leave). This means Ezio can do a short gondola tutorial to rescue her.

And just as we’d forgotten he existed, Desmond is woken up from the animus so he doesn’t go insane from the bleeding effect. Lucy tests his newly absorbed climbing/freerunning skills in the warehouse while Desmond hallucinates a bunch. Then after we’re done with that, Desmond relives a memory of Altair’s life in a dream/hallucination. It’s a cool twist to play as Altair briefly, but I don’t see what’s so significant about this memory that it had to be shown. Altair chases a templar and then stabs her with his hidden blade. Nothing new there.

Back in Ezio’s life, we have arrived in Venice with Leonardo. One overenthusiastic tour guide later, there is a missable prompt to give Leonardo a hug and IF YOU MISS IT I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN, YOU HEARTLESS SCUMBAG YOU.

Ahem. We then witness thieves attempting to attack Emilio Barbarigo’s palace, and we save one girl thief, Rosa, while she yells a lot of profanities at everyone. We then meet the thief leader Antonio and marvel at his great hair.
Antonio introduces Ezio to some novelty thing called coffee. Ezio thinks it’s too bitter, invents the latte and promptly opens a Starbucks in Venice. Antonio scoffs at Ezio’s taste in coffee for being too mainstream.
Ezio decides to work with Antonio and the thieves and helps them regain their strength. This is just a few missions of the game but according to the DNA tracker Ezio actually spends 4 whole years with the thieves before infiltrating Emilio Barbarigo’s home and assassinating him. Antonio then selflessly decides to look after Emilio’s luxurious palace since no-one else wants it or something.

We then spy on the other Venetian Templars (the Barbarigos, Carl Grimaldi & Dante Moro) having one of their weekly tupperware parties with Rodrigo Borgia. We overhear their plan to assassinate doge Mocenigo and replace him with Marco Barbarigo. Ezio wants to save the doge but can’t find a way into the palace, so he asks Leonardo to turn him into a bird.
In one of the most memorable sequences of the game, we use Leonardo’s flying machine to fly over Venice and enter the doge’s palace from above. Though Ezio scores some style points here, he is still too late to save the doge. He does manage to kill the doge’s assassin, Carlo Grimaldi.

Next year, Leonardo manufactures a “hidden gun” for Ezio to go with the “hidden blades” and I can no longer keep track of which euphemism is which.
He sends you to his and Antonio’s “mutual friend” Teodora, who runs some kind of nun-fetish brothel.
He also gives you a mask, because it’s carnival and that way the guards won’t recognize Ezio. Yes because it was Ezio’s face that was the problem, not his obvious hood, armour, weapons and the fact that he climbs buildings like a monkey on steroids.

Teodora tells us we need to enter a competition to win a golden mask that provides entry to Marco Barbarigo’s “private carnival party”. The competition happens to be a bit rigged and Ezio is denied the prize. But rather than posting whiny comments on the competition’s internet forums like a real man, Ezio decides to just steal the mask like a coward.
Ezio then infiltrates the party and, while surrounding himself with prostitutes to “blend in”, “shoots” Marco Barbarigo with the “hidden gun”, winning even more style points and making this blog even filthier.
He then goes to Teodora for some “comfort and succor”. Can’t this guy ever get enough?

We then meet Agostino Barbarigo, who is actually on the assassin side and awfully happy you killed his brother as this cleared the way for him to become doge himself.
Meanwhile, Silvio Barbarigo has occupied the arsenale, so Ezio goes to mercenary leader Bartolomeo D’Alviano for help.
He and his men have been attacked and captured so we rescue him while he is threatening to “stuff the guards faces into their asses without checking to make sure the face matches the ass” (I immediately like this man). We escort him back to his headquarters where we witness one of the finest, most tasteful romance scenes in the history of video games as he reunites with the love of his life, Bianca.

Together with Bartolomeo, we lure Silvio’s men out of the arsenale and we use the ensuing chaos to get a double assassination on Silvio Barbarigo and Dante Moro. We then learn that the Templars have sent an expedition to Cyprus.

We fast forward 2 years again when the Templar expedition is about to return. Leonardo has figured out a secret message in the codex that talks of a prophet that will come to Venice when the expedition returns from Cyprus, and about a secret vault that only the prophet can access. Ezio now realises that the Templar expedition to Cyprus was to retrieve an Apple of Eden buried there.

Ezio gives the guard who was supposed to deliver the Apple to Rodrigo a good stabbing and then takes his place, dressed in guard uniform, among a small group of guards who we promptly murderkill when we meet Rodrigo, who claims to be the aforementioned prophet.
Ezio, ever the unrelenting atheist, decides he doesn’t care and fights Rodrigo as Volpe, Antonio, Bartolomeo and Donkey Kong join in as well. An apple-less Rodrigo Borgia is forced to flee with his tail between his legs as Paola, Teodora and grumpy old guy in a young man’s body Machiavelli show up on Ezio’s side as well. They reveal themselves to all have been members of the Assassin Brotherhood all along, and now believe that Ezio is in fact the prophet.
They then give Ezio, who has already been on the job for 10 years, his formal “assassin initiation ceremony” which let’s just say it involves them all going into the hay together.

Desmond wakes up briefly but is immediately put back in. Shawn then remembers that Rodrigo Borgia would be pope in 1492 which would indeed be relevant to mention now if it wasn’t for the fact that there’s still the 2 DLC sequences to go (included by default in the Ezio Collection), the first of which takes place before that in 1488.
It’s a bit awkward how they just cut out 2 sequences to re-enable them in DLC, but the story works without these 2 sequences anyway.

The Assassins decide to keep the piece of eden safe with their ally, Caterina Sforza, who is now the sole ruler of Forli after having her husband killed. And just as Ezio arrives at Forli, it is being attacked by the Orsi brothers and their army under the instructions of Rodrigo Borgia.
Together with Machiavelli and Caterina, we fight our way through a war-torn Forli, all while Caterina spouts the most hilarious insults at the invaders. On arrival at the citadel, 2 of Caterina’s children are revealed to have been kidnapped by the Orsi brothers,
guess whose job it is to play babysitter and get the kids back home safely?
We kill Ludovico Orsi but Checco Orsi stole the Apple while we were away babysitting, and we chase him down and stab him but! ...he stabs us back, and we can’t prevent a Mysterious Hooded Monk™ from picking up the apple and leaving.
Ezio searches Romagna for the monk, identifying him as Girolamo Savonarola who has gone to Firenze.

Suddenly, 9 years have passed and it is 1497, without any explanation whatsoever.
Now, apparently the mobile/handheld game AC2: Discovery fills this gap as Ezio has to go to Spain and help the Assassins there. AC2 itself never mentions that and also, wasn’t protecting the Apple of Eden meant to be Ezio’s main priority? It’s the thing that bothers me the most about the AC2 story, this poorly explained gap in time.

Ezio enters a war-torn Firenze to meet with Machiavelli. Savonarola has ousted the Medici and is using the Piece of Eden to control the leaders of the city who in turn suppress the populace. Meanwhile, Borgia troops are active as well in attempting to take the Apple from Savonarola. Ezio has to take out all 9 of the Eden-controlled lieutenants in any order, in some of the more annoying missions of the game. Meanwhile, Machiavelli, Volpe and Paola stir up a nice little revolt.
Savonarola eventually attempts to use the Apple to control the revolt, but Ezio uses a throwing knife to knock it out of his hand. The angry mob takes Savonarola to burn him alive and Ezio decides to hijack the moment to mercy kill him and deliver a speech.
What this guy won’t do for attention, I tell you.

After collecting all the codex pages, Ezio figures out that on the back of them is a map, showing the location of the vault to be at Rome, and that the 2nd piece of Eden required to access it is the Papal Staff, and that this is why Rodrigo became pope.

A 40-year old Ezio then infiltrates the Sixtine Chapel in Rome to assassinate Rodrigo who, being rather spry for a 68-year old, saves himself using the staff. After an epic duel of the Pieces of Eden, Rodrigo uses the staff to become invisible, stealing the apple and disappearing into the vault.
Evidently absolutely nobody in the Sixtine Chapel thinks this public duel between the pope and some hooded weirdo odd enough to speak of it to anyone else later. Perhaps this is just what Rodrigo does every day as pope, who knows?

Of course Rodrigo can’t actually open the vault because he is not actually the prophet. In a final fistfight with Ezio, just as you thought he couldn’t get any more bonkers, Rodrigo explains that he thinks God is within the vault, and that he might use the Pieces of Eden to kill Him and become God himself.
Ezio spares Rodrigo, saying that “killing you won’t bring my family back”, but the real reason is that Ezio’s manager informed him that leaving Rodrigo alive would allow for a sequel and Ezio could earn more royalties that way.

Ezio opens the vault and has a nice little chat with a hologram of Minerva who explains how she is one of the Ones Who Came Before who early humanity thought to be gods as they created humanity to be their slaves, controlled using the Pieces of Eden. Humanity rose up against their overlords before everything changed when a mass ejection from the Sun hit the Earth and generally fucked everything up. For no apparent reason the Ones Who Came Before were then kind enough to warn the humans of the future that such a thing would happen again in 2012 and that’s where Ezio and Desmond came in.

Desmond says “What. The. Fuck.” and with that apt statement the credits roll.

Mid-credits, the modern day assassin hideout is attacked by Templars, commanded by my spirit animal Warren Vidic. For whatever reason they use batons as weapons rather than, idk, ASSAULT RIFLES?! Desmond fights them off with his newly acquired badassery but Warren escapes.

There’s also glyphs scattered throughout the game, hidden messages left in the Animus by Subject 16, which provide cool background information about the Pieces of Eden and their occurrence throughout history, all while Subject 16 goes insane from the bleeding effect.

Collecting all 100 feathers in memory of Petruccio helps Ezio’s mother to process her grief.
And, you know what? This is what I really like about Ezio: that dedication to his family. Sure, he is also a badass with enough charisma to topple Mount Everest but it’s his loyalty and honour that really make him shine for me.

While Ezio is a much more developed character compared to AC1’s Altair, I can’t really say the same for the antagonists. AC1 really had you learn a lot about the targets and their motivations, both through the investigations and through the extensive dialogue with them in their death sequence.
In AC2, the death sequences have been almost minimized to just “fuck you for killing me” and “don’t be such a piece of shit, requiescat in pace”.
Nearly all of the Templars seem to just be in it because they want power for themselves, this is also true to an extent for the AC1 Templars but most of them had that philosophy behind it that what they were doing was really right. AC2 doesn’t underline this as much and while Rodrigo Borgia does a great job as a classic “lecherous bastard” type of villain, I personally think AC1’s villains were more interesting.

But AC2 deserves a lot of credit for having such an iconic protagonist, and Leonardo is a great supporting character. Not to mention that the story is a lot more sophisticated than AC1, and has plenty of cool twists and surprises.

History and stuff

Rather than taking place over just a few months like AC1 and only having one real historic event (the Battle of Arsuf), AC2 takes place over the course of 23 years, from 1476 to 1499, across several settings in Italy and incorporating several historic events.

Northern Italy at this point of time is one of the richest regions in Europe. It is a collection of smallish city states who have gotten massively wealthy from trade and are endlessly squabbling for power among themselves. They are mostly governed by powerful families who have also gotten massively wealthy from trade and are also endlessly squabbling for power among themselves.
This wealth, combined with the rediscovery of ancient Roman and Greek culture, has sparked a cultural revolution known as the Renaissance, centred on Florence, and I think that’s all the generic stuff we really need to know.

The Assassins and Templars have both been destroyed for roughly 200 and 150 years respectively by the beginning of the game’s timeframe, which the game explains as them having “gone underground”.

-Florence, San Gimignano & Monteriggioni, the Pazzi & Medici families, Savonarola

Most of the notable buildings in Florence are real but the Auditore palace is obviously fictional (as is the Auditore family) and I think the Rosa Colta brothel is made-up as well.

San Gimignano was indeed part of the Republic of Florence and, being truly 500 years ahead of its time, it did indeed have a “whose is longest” competition in the form of skyscraping towers (many of which still stand today).

The abbey Monte Oliveto Maggiore, where we kill Stefano da Bagnone, is a real place but in the game it is situated in the countryside surrounding San Gimignano whereas in reality it is far from San Gimignano and in fact Monteriggioni is somewhere right between the two.
The Villa Salviati, where we kill Archbishop Francesco Salviati, is a similar case. It is actually located just outside Florence, with Florence between it and San Gimignano, but again was put in the San Gimignano map. I guess these two buildings were just merged with San Gimignano so that all of sequence 5 could take place on the same map.

The Villa Auditore in Monteriggioni is fictional as well, but Monteriggioni is a real place and was part of the Republic of Siena (another major city-state of Italy not featured in Assassin’s Creed 2) which was an important rival of Florence. The Republic of Siena, including Monteriggioni, would eventually be conquered by Florence in 1555, a little over half a century after the game’s end.
In-game, though, there is no mention of Siena (except for in the database article) and the place seems to practically be owned by Chain Chomp and his mercenaries.

Of the Templar targets we encounter in this region, I’m drawing a blank when I try to look up Uberto Alberti and Vieri de’ Pazzi. They may well be fictional characters invented by the devs to betray the Auditore family and act as a childhood rival to Ezio respectively.

That said, Francesco and Jacopo de’ Pazzi and the other members of the Pazzi conspiracy were all real, as was the Pazzi conspiracy itself!
It happened much like in the game: Giuliano de’ Medici was killed by Francesco de’ Pazzi and Bernardo Baroncelli while his older brother Lorenzo is wounded by Antonio Maffei and Stefano da Bagnone but manages to escape.

The aftermath of the conspiracy, though, is less accurately represented.
Francesco de’ Pazzi would indeed be killed and hanged the same day, only not by an assassin but by an angry mob.
Francesco Salviati, the archbishop of Pisa, was also lynched and hanged by an angry mob the same day.
Jacopo de’ Pazzi managed to escape Florence but within 4 days he is caught, brought back to Florence, tortured, hanged, buried, dug up, dragged through the streets, thrown into the river, fished out, flogged by children, and finally thrown into the river again.
Stefano da Bagnone and Antonio Maffei were able to survive for a week before being - you guessed it - lynched and hanged by an angry mob.
The only one that did manage to escape was Bernardo Baroncelli. But rather than just fleeing to San Gimignano, he made it all the way to Constantinople, only to be arrested by the Turkish sultan and sent back to Florence, where he was promptly hanged while still wearing Turkish clothing.
In the game however, the latter 5 manage to escape to San Gimignano and the surrounding area where they survive for another 1-2 years before being killed by Ezio, so that’s a bit different.

Pope Sixtus IV and his nephew Girolamo Riario (more on the latter later) were also involved. Unsurprisingly, lynching and hanging an archbishop doesn’t make you better friends with the Vatican and the pope uses it as an excuse to start a war against Florence which isn’t mentioned in the game. Lorenzo manages to make peace by surrendering himself to the king of Naples (who soon releases him).

The Medici were an incredibly successful banking family that originated near Florence and were quite possibly the richest people in all of Europe at this time.
Being super-rich, they managed to basically use their massive amounts of money to control the government of the Republic of Florence from behind the scenes, and it was hardly a secret. This of course didn’t sit well with rival families such as the Pazzi who wanted to “restore liberty” to Florence but really a good amount of the population was quite content with the situation as the Medici were a pretty benevolent bunch overall, especially by the standards of the day.

Lorenzo “the Magnificent” de’ Medici was the head of the family during most of the AC2 timeframe. This guy was a massive patron of the arts and largely responsible for this phase of the Renaissance, supporting people like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli and others. He was also a diplomat that managed to keep Italy relatively peaceful during his time.
That said, being truly 500 years ahead of his time, when the family bank got in a bit of trouble he did start misappropriating state funds for his personal finances.
He seems to have had some kind of midlife crisis around the age of 40, coming under the influence of the fanatic “prophet” Savonarola (who, being anti-despotic and wanting the destruction of secular art and culture, frankly seems like the anti-Lorenzo) and bringing him to Florence. Lorenzo was then nice enough to roll over and die within the next few years, after which Savonarola expelled the Medici family and took power.
With Lorenzo’s death ended the Golden Age of Florence and the relative stability he brought to Italy, Though he is still kind enough to pay you from beyond the grave for doing assassination contracts after he dies.

Savonarola then embarks on his quest to make Florence the “New Jerusalem” by basically attempting to send the city back into the Dark Age. Pope Alexander VI aka Rodrigo Borgia puts up with him for a few years until Savonarola refuses to help the pope against a French invasion.
In 1497 the pope excommunicates him and in 1498 he is challenged to a trial by fire to prove if he really is on a divine mission or not. The trial by fire turns into a fiasco and there’s that angry Florentine mob again! Savonarola is imprisoned, tortured, simultaneously hanged and burned alive and then his ashes are thrown into the river. His death in AC2’s DLC is tame by comparison.

Despite Savonarola, Lorenzo’s descendants did well for themselves. Both his son and Giuliano’s son (who Lorenzo raised after Giuliano’s death) would go on to become pope. The Medici would be back in Florence within 2 decades, eventually becoming legitimized as proper dukes rather than just de facto despots by Pope Clement VII. This was of course “divine will” and had nothing to do with the fact that Pope Clement VII was the aforementioned son of Giuliano. The family would stay in power until 1737 when the last duke died without a male heir.

La Volpe and Paola, pretty sure they’re both made-up.

-Venice and the Barbarigo family

Venice at this point in time is not only one of the most powerful city-states of Italy but also owns a whole bunch of overseas colonies in the eastern Mediterranean, including the island of Crete and much of the western coast of the Balkans

Giovanni Mocenigo was indeed doge of Venice and does indeed die in 1485 like he does in the game, officially of plague though there were indeed rumours of poisoning. His in-game assassin, Carlo Grimaldi, seems to be fictional.

The Barbarigo family is historic as well. Marco Barbarigo did indeed succeed Mocenigo as doge before being killed less than a year later in some kind of “noble’s dispute”. His brother, Agostino Barbarigo, did indeed succeed him and would rule as doge for 15 years before dying in 1501. They were the only 2 Barbarigo members to become doge but the family would still spawn a few notable cardinals and military commanders.
Silvio and Emilio Barbarigo, though, I can’t find anything about them and they may well be fictional, or just not very important.
Dante Moro, the Barbarigo family bodyguard, is likely fictional as well.

The Venetian/Templar expedition to Cyprus to retrieve the Apple of Eden is interesting. Venice did actually unofficially control Cyprus at this point in time and in 1489, one year after the in-game Templar expedition returns home, Cyprus would officially become Venetian territory when the Venetians forced its queen to sell the island and abdicate.

Of the assassins, Antonio seems to be made-up, just like Teodora Contanto and her nuns-turned-courtesans brothel. Disappointing, I know.
Bartolomeo d’Alviano, though, is definitely real and was indeed a famous mercenary captain who did actually fight against pope Alexander VI aka Rodrigo Borgia in 1496, although I’m not sure if his military career had already begun 10 years earlier when Ezio meets him in Venice. Bartolomeo is also present in AC: Brotherhood and we’ll talk about his post-AC2 timeframe exploits in the corresponding blog.

-Forlì and Caterina Sforza

Forli is located in the Romagna region, which was indeed quite marshy in historical times. The city is in reality quite a bit more inland than it is depicted in the game, that’s just the game being economical with space.

Forlì and much of Romagna were at this time officially part of the Papal State, the area of Italy that was the pope’s territory. That said, the Papal State wasn’t able to exert much power this far from Rome and Forlì was in practice more or less independent during the AC2 timeframe.

Caterina Sforza, daughter of the duke of Milan, married Girolamo Riario, the favorite nephew of Pope Sixtus IV. Girolamo’s absence in the game is a bit strange as he played a part in the Pazzi conspiracy and is relevant to Caterina Sforza and Forlì.

Anyway, the pope rewards Girolamo’s services by making him the lord of Forlì and Imola, but, since he is one of the pope’s main commanders, he and Caterina mostly live in the Vatican until Pope Sixtus’ death in 1484. So Caterina doesn’t live in Forlì full-time yet when Ezio first meets her in 1481.
When the pope dies in 1484, Rome falls into rebellion and a very pregnant Caterina takes military control of the Castel Sant’Angelo, until the cardinals promise Girolamo a hefty sum of money to please just take his wife, leave Rome and go live in Forlì full-time.

Girolamo Riario was assassinated by Checco and Ludovico Orsi in the event that sets off the siege of Forlì, the Orsi then use the ensuing chaos to capture the city, Caterina, and her children, while only the citadel is held by the defenders.
Caterina agrees to go to the citadel to persuade the defenders to surrender, leaving her children behind as hostages, but once inside she immediately turns against the Orsi, letting loose a barrage of vulgar threats. There is even an account of her exposing her genitals and telling the Orsi to kill her children if they want to because she can just make more. That last bit is probably just an embellishment, but it’s actually incorporated in the game (though she keeps her panties on).
Regardless, the Orsi are actually too cowed to hurt Caterina’s children. Caterina’s uncle Ludovico Sforza, regent of Milan, sends in his army to clean up the Orsi mess and that’s that.

In the game/DLC, the siege does take place at the same time as it did in real life but it happens quite a bit differently. Unlike in real-life Caterina is already in sole control of Forlì as she had her husband assassinated in an earlier event (they really didn’t want Girolamo in this game!), and she and most of her children manage to escape capture. Ludovico Sforza never arrives to help as Ezio basically cleans up the besiegers single-handedly.

Forlì and Imola pass to Girolamo’s oldest son, Ottaviano Riario. He is however still an 8-year old child so Caterina agrees to act as the regent until he comes of age. Caterina would more or less use this opportunity to just take power for herself.

This is as far as Caterina Sforza’s history is relevant to AC2. Since she also appears in AC: Brotherhood, the rest of her life will be discussed in that blog instead.

-The Vatican and Rodrigo Borgia

Rome, the Vatican and the Borgias feature so heavily in AC: Brotherhood that I don’t want to waste many words on them here in the AC2 blog.
Suffice to say for AC2 purposes that Rodrigo Borgia was indeed a Spaniard, born Rodrigo de Borja. He went to study in Italy, where his surname was Italianized to Borgia. Like his uncle, Pope Callixtus III, he pursued a church career and became the bishop of Valencia and a cardinal. He eventually becomes pope himself in 1492 as Alexander VI. He would go on to become one of the most controversial popes ever, for a bunch of reasons which I’ll save for the AC: Brotherhood blog.

There is no record of him having anything to do with the Pazzi conspiracy, the death of Doge Mocenigo or the Orsis’ attempted coup of Forlì.
He was opposed to Savonarola, but (obviously) not because of a Piece of Eden and as far as I’m aware there was no military action like in the game.

-Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was a real person and one of the most multi-talented individuals to have ever existed. He was a painter, architect, sculptor, musician, inventor, mathematician, engineer, writer, cartographer, astronomer, geologist and a whole bunch of other things, and brilliant at all of them. This guy was superhuman, and it makes him very fitting as Ezio’s personal gadget creator and deciphering machine.

Leonardo was indeed born near Florence and lived and worked there at the beginning of his career. He left Florence at roughly the same time as he does in the game (1482 rather than the game’s 1480), but he actually moved to Milan rather than Venice (he was sent there by Lorenzo de’ Medici as a sort of peace offering). He would eventually flee to Venice in 1499 as Milan was invaded by France but this is after Ezio’s time in Venice, so him being in Venice during the 1480s with Ezio is not historical.

Leonardo was obsessed with flying and designed a bunch of flying machines, none of which were ever really put into practice. Some of his glider designs, like the one in the game, are viable enough in theory and, though heavy and clumsy, could maybe have managed to glide a short distance before crashing, not unlike what happens to Ezio when he first tests it. Whether its flight could be prolonged by the updraft from bonfires… that’s obviously not been tested but I imagine the thing would’ve been too damn heavy for it to make any difference. The machine would also probably just be impossible to control as it lacked a rudder.

Leonardo is another one of those characters we’ll see again in Brotherhood so more on him there.

-Machiavelli

There is actually not too much to say about Machiavelli in the AC2 timeframe. He starts working as a secretary of the Florentine government in 1498, just before the end of the game’s timeframe, and that’s it. The rest of his life is AC: Brotherhood material.

When we first meet Machiavelli in Venice, he is actually only 19, about as old as Ezio was when he started hunting the Pazzi, yet he already seems to be a person with authority among the Assassins, which is a bit odd.

-Toba catastrophe

Oh yes! The cataclysmic event that nearly wiped out Those Who Came Before and humanity ~75,000 years ago is actually based on a real thing! Now, this wasn’t actually a mass ejection of the Sun but the eruption of a supervolcano, which is theorized to have caused a volcanic winter that lasted for a few years.
There is also a genetic bottleneck in human ancestry dating to around the same time, so the event is theorized to have caused a sharp decline in early human population levels. There’s also a bunch of evidence to the contrary though and all these theories are very controversial.
So it’s all very flimsy and hypothetical, but it’s kinda cool that they based it on an actual theory.

-Misc

Of the armour you can buy in the shop, Helmschmied and Missaglias aren’t actually real types of armour, they’re the names of famous Renaissance armourers. So I guess the idea is they’re special sets of leather and metal armour designed by Helmschmied and Missaglias respectively and therefore slightly better than the normal counterpart. Not sure if Helmschmied actually made leather armour though.

The weapons are all historical but the game includes a few Syrian swords from the 3rd Crusade era as a nod to AC1, they obviously don’t really belong in Renaissance Italy. The Schiavona is a bit too modern for the game’s timeframe, but whatever.

Swords were a lot more common in the renaissance period than in most of the medieval period, but one-handed weapons were still mainly sidearms, and really most soldiers would have polearms as a primary weapon like the seekers do, and if you were really going to go with a one-handed weapon you’d use your brains and get a buckler alongside it.

The paintings that can be bought from the art merchants are all real paintings from the Renaissance era, though some weren’t made until a few decades after the game’s end.

Gameplay

This game really took the groundwork laid by AC1 and fleshed out every aspect of it.

As one of the biggest changes, AC2 introduced money!
The game then quickly goes on to demonstrate how capitalism undermines morality by encouraging you to desecrate the dead (loot corpses), rob people’s houses (find and open chests), pickpocket (pickpocket), and outright murder political enemies of the wealthy despot of Florence to help him stay in power (assassination contracts).
In turn you can use the money to hire prostitutes (Ezio likes them 4 at a time), incite street crime (hire mercenaries and thieves) and buy weapons to use against the defenders of the law (arbitrary comment in parentheses).
I did not expect this kind of socio-economic commentary from what is one of the most mainstream of Assassin Creed games.

The game adds 5 types of shops where you can spend your money:

Doctors can heal you or sell you medicine with which to heal yourself (as health no longer auto-regenerates as in AC1), they can also sell you poison for your poison blade.
“I've distilled an elixir of lead and pomegranate. Ideal for the liver!” Thank goodness Ezio’s liver is not the problem. Edward Kenway, though, wouldn’t have lasted a minute with these guys.

Art merchants will sell you paintings which will be placed in your villa’s art gallery to increase the income of your base. If you ask me, this was a nice way to work renaissance culture into a game that really focuses more on combat and politics, it’s just a great way to immerse the game that much more in the setting.
Art merchants somehow also know where everybody keeps their gold hidden and will sell you treasure maps. I don’t know what this says about art dealers but it can’t be good.

Smiths can sell you a variety of swords, warhammers and short blades. They also sell throwing knives and bullets for your hidden gun. To top it off, they also sell armour, which increases your maximum health. The armour can break if you take too many hits, forfeiting the max health boost. The smiths can repair the armour if it breaks.
Oh, and there’s also the caestus (a sort of reinforced glove) which boosts your punch damage.

Then there’s tailors, who let you customize the colours of your clothes and also sell you pouches that increase your ammo and medicine capacity.

Lastly there’s fast travel shops, who can teleport you to any other fast travel shop not in the same city.

Money can also be spent to hire groups of followers, namely courtesans, who can distract guards and make you unnoticeable while walking with them, mercenaries, who can fight guards, and thieves, who can follow you on rooftops, fight a little and also distract guards in certain situations.

Then there’s Birdo’s villa in Monteriggioni, it provides a constant stream of income and can be upgraded by paying the architect to renovate certain decrepit buildings and shops, buying paintings to decorate the villa, buying weapons and armour to complete the villa’s arsenal, and getting collectibles.

Speaking of collectibles, there’s 8 Roman god statues in Monteriggioni which can be collected and placed on pedestals around Rosalina’s villa, giving you 2000 florins for every 2 statues. Then there’s the 100 feathers and a few hundred chests.
There’s the 20 codex pages, which can be read through the database and have some nice background lore about Altair’s life. Having them deciphered by Leonardo also increases your max health.
There’s the 6 tomb seals, which are gotten by completing the tombs. The tombs are fun climbing puzzles, I really like these. They also all have 2 hidden areas with an extra chest or two, not much reward but fun to seek them out. They usually take place in the interior of famous buildings, which are all Magically Larger On The Inside™.
A few extra tombs (without seals) are available as DLC in the original version or as free Uplay/Ubisoft Club/Whatever they call it these days rewards in the Ezio collection. Completing all the tombs unlocks the best armour in the game, the Altair armour. Your clothes can’t be dyed while wearing it but it also can’t break and will never need repairs.
Then there’s the glyphs left by Subject 16, which are all hidden near famous buildings and take you through some puzzles and some more background lore.

There’s also a slew of information on everything that’s either taken from history directly (people, buildings) or simply relevant to the plot in the new in-game database. THINGS TO READ?! HISTORY?! I’m all over it.

Besides the tombs and assassination contracts, there’s also a few race missions, courier missions and “beat up” missions where we get to beat up some cheating husbands which is hella fun.

Ezio, unlike Altair, did not drop out of swimming school, and of course you can fall into water from any height and be perfectly fine. Hilariously not another soul in the entire game can swim, so it’s a good way to get away from guards. Ezio can also submerge himself for brief amounts of time, allowing him to pass under obstacles or get out of view from nearby guards.

Ezio is a faster climber than Altair, and on top of that he can learn the climbing leap halfway through the game, allowing him to jump upwards as he’s climbing to reach places that he otherwise can’t.

Stealth has been refined as well, guards have handy “detection meters” on their heads that shows you how close they are to recognizing and attacking you. You can now also blend with any group of people and markings on the floor will show you where you can stand while still being blended.
The moving hiding spot in the form of scholars or monks from AC1 has been removed, but courtesans can pretty much do the same thing.

There’s also a whole new notoriety system, where guards (except for rooftop archers) won’t bother with you at all if you’re not notorious and you’re not in a restricted area (restricted areas show up red on the minimap).
Notoriety is increased by killing people and fighting guards but also by pickpocketing and things like that. It can be decreased by removing wanted posters (some of which are in laughably impractical locations where no-one would ever see them), bribing heralds and killing templar-controlled officials.
There’s also some capes that are earned throughout the game that will affect notoriety. The Medici cape locks your notoriety in San Gimignano and Florence at 0 and the Venice cape does the same for Venice. The Auditore cape locks your notoriety at maximum, anywhere.

Combat is overhauled as well. Unlike Altair, Ezio will actually hold his opponents in a loving embrace when he grabs them, and can them choose to either throw them, headbutt them, punch them, kick them, or if holding a sword or short blade he can just slit their throat and be done with it.
Like AC1, AC2 distinguishes between unarmed, hidden blades, main weapon, and short blade. There are several short blades and main weapons available from the smith with different stats. Besides swords, warhammers are also available as main weapons, having different animations and generally lower speed but higher damage stats.
Unlike Altair, Ezio is actually able to deflect enemy attacks while using his fists or hidden blades and can actually fight with the hidden blades like a normal weapon (Altair could do counters but not attack).
Unarmed combat is now viable as well, and Ezio can disarm opponents and take over their weapon by doing an unarmed counter. This also allows Ezio to temporarily use two-handed weapons by disarming brutes and polearms by disarming seekers. Both of these are powerful weapons that have special attacks, but if you do a counter with them they will instakill the enemy and break in the process.
There’s some other refinements, such as the ability to taunt enemies or that you will instakill them if you attack them with their backs turned. Ezio can also throw sand to stun enemies when in unarmed mode.
Weapons from fallen enemies can also be picked up from the ground and carried around, but Ezio will have to drop them when climbing or running.

Ezio just also has more tools than Altair did. He has the same old throwing knives (and even an ability to throw multiple at the same time in combat), which are no longer paired with the short blade, but also a hidden pistol, a poison blade and smoke bombs. He can also throw money on the ground to distract civilians and use medicine to heal himself. With this many tools, the game has to provide you with a tool/weapon wheel interface by which to select them.

Finally, Ezio has two hidden blades and can do double assassinations. He can also assassinate enemies from hiding places and ledges and can do air assassinations from above.

There’s some other new functionality, such as the ability to pick up bodies and move them around to create a distraction or hide them in a haycart.
It’s Grand Theft Gondola in Venice, you can use the gondolas to move around the water quickly which is pretty valuable in Venice as there’s water everywhere.
Eagle vision is a bit different as well. In AC1 it could only be used while standing still and in first person. In AC2 Eagle vision can be used at any time and won’t change your perspective. You can still enter first person view while stationary by pressing Left thumbstick.
The game also has you searching for things or people in green “search zones” on the minimap and tailing people is introduced as well, both of which would remain staples of the franchise.

The game also features a day/night cycle so that’s a nice addition.

There’s some new NPC types as well. The beggars from AC1 are replaced by street musicians that do the same thing: they block your path and want you to give them money.
The lepers and drunkards that angrily shove you are thankfully gone.
There’s AI pickpockets that can steal your money if you’re not careful, but you can chase them down and tackle them to get the money back. There’s Borgia couriers running around that can also be chased and tackled for a nice sum of money.

Then there’s the guards. Like AC1 there’s the basic guard type that comes in 3 tiers of armour/skill, and rooftop archers that are equivalent to tier 1 guards (though there’s some tier 3 archers in the Vatican section). On top of that, though, are 3 new “special” guard types. Namely Agiles, who attack with short blades and can run faster than Ezio, Seekers, who attack with a polearm and can spot Ezio if he’s blended, and Brutes, who use heavy two-handed weapons and can knock Ezio’s weapon out of his hand. Brutes also have the highest morale and will never flee.
There’s also some unarmed Pazzi thugs that function as “guards” in sequence 1, which makes it a bit more innocent as Ezio isn’t supposed be a killer yet at this stage.
Oh, and you can now see the enemy’s remaining health displayed over their head.

Guard factions, while they would feature more prominently in later games, are experimented with a little, especially in the DLC sequence 13 (where Borgia and Savonarola guards will duke it out)

Horses have become less relevant as fast travel is a thing now and there is no large “Kingdom” region that connects the cities, though there is still a good amount of playable countryside surrounding the walls of Forli and San Gimignano where horses can be useful.
If you for whatever reason feel like collecting the chests in the Apennines then they’re good for that as well, and there’s some races that feature them too.

There’s also some “special gameplay” in the carriage and flying machine missions. With the DLC or the Ezio Collection, the flying machine is available afterwards in Forlì if you want to have another go.

The music is great. The ambiance is great. Like AC1 the game has a well-defined character, but the character is very different this time. Whereas AC1 was gritty and philosophical, this one is a lot more lively and colourful.

Oh yeah, and the DLC adds some kind of “trampoline beams” in the DLC-only district of Florence. That said you could easily play through the game and never notice them, which is a shame.


Man, this was a long one. I can’t help it, AC2 just added SO MANY DAMN THINGS to the franchise. Well, uh, if you’re still here, you know, bless you and stuff. Go take a nice rest from all that reading.
Posted by Fristi61 on 27 October 17 at 16:48 | Last edited on 29 October 17 at 08:18 | There are 5 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.