Assassin's Creed II

Renaissance spawns modern masterpiece

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There's no sloppiness or dead weight. In fact, there's often more going on than might first meet the eye. Buy a new weapon, for example, and not only do you get to wield it in combat, but it also appears in a display case in your Villa, adding to the property's value. And the more valuable your villa, the more income you get to spend on the wealth of stuff that you'll find inside each of the game's cities.

The sheer amount of things to see and do almost rivals the exhaustive GTA IV, but unlike Rockstar's classic the story (or rather stories) is always on hand to drive you forwards and keep things focused on the task at hand.

The only real downside is that you need to make a committed effort to get the most out of Assassin's Creed 2. It isn't something you can casually pick at with your mates - it's a deep, involving game that rewards persistence and curiosity. Like we said, it doesn't have the immediate 'wow factor' of Uncharted 2, or Batman's intuitive, flowing, combat, but if you invest in the story and characters some of the revelations later in the game are phenomenal. We don't want to spoil it, but there's actually a fascinating third story ticking away in the background, which slowly but surely unveils itself as you play through, influencing events inside and outside the Animus. There's no multi-player, and we didn't expect it - but DLC add-on rumours persist.

As a sequel, Assassin's Creed 2 embarrasses the original game. It expands on everything that was great, adds a stack of fresh content and trims out all the fat. And somehow, there's enough genuine quality and divine touches to fill an experience that lasts and entertains for three times longer than most blockbuster games. Clever, clever stuff.

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The verdict

Overall Superb action and a smart, well-rounded story - a perfect sequel.

PlayStation 3
Action, Adventure