November 18, 2009 - I'll bet if someone told you that Assassin's Creed II on the Nintendo DS was a lot like Sonic the Hedgehog, you'd probably have a hard time believing them. That's exactly what happened to me: David Clayman, hot off his trip from Italy and his hands-on play with an early revision of the Nintendo DS version of Assassin's Creed, tried to explain to me just how weird and wonderful the sequel was on the handheld, describing it as a game that feels an awful lot like Sonic the Hedgehog. Always the skeptic, I dismissed his description, but after finally playing through this game I can see exactly what he means. In fact, I'd go one step further: Assassin's Creed II: Discovery is what you'd get if you crossbred SEGA's mascot with UbiSoft's own Prince of Persia. Believe it.
The original Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles, released two years ago on the Nintendo DS, was created by mobile developer Gameloft. That design was a very straightforward, solid-but-glitchy side-scrolling rendition of what Ubi's console team pulled off in the original Assassin's Creed. For Assassin's Creed II: Discovery, Ubisoft recruited the help of Griptonite – the team's 2D/3D hybrid engine used in games like last year's impressive Spiderman: Web of Shadows DS title is being utilized in this title to surprisingly good effect – the game feels a lot like a fast-paced Prince of Persia and plays with similar flair and fluidity of the console version of Assassin's Creed II.
The DS game follows a separate chapter from the console Assassin's Creed II, but you're still Italian assassin Ezio running through missions of both stealth and combat. Or rather, you're playing as a guy named Desmond who's virtually plugged into the past revisiting his ancestor's life into something called the Animus. The game really doesn't do a very good job explaining this "virtual" aspect in the same way that the console game does – in fact, unless you read the manual or have played the console games the whole "Holodeck" element will probably be lost on you because the game doesn't really walk players through the "present day". But where it falters in its explanation, it makes up for it in a unique action experience.
I was one of the few reviewers that legitimately enjoyed the first Assassin’s Creed on the Nintendo DS – it had its problems but it was a solid Gameloft effort that captured the console gameplay in a more limiting handheld experience. The sequel, helmed by Griptonite, is a much more ambitious design but in a more restrictive 2D environment. The result is a much more fulfilling and fun DS experience that runs parallel to the far more elaborate console production, and while I had problems with the blind jumps and trial-and-error, mapless gameplay, I had a great time with Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery.
|out of 10||click here for ratings guide|
Good story, great acting. The game surrounds itself in the virtual Animus, but unless you're up on the console version you won't understand why things glitch away or sparkle.
The 3D engine is very detailed and offers some great character animation. Close up kills are pretty spectacular.
Love the epic soundtrack and the voice work.
It's very fun and a hell of a ride, but you'll have to deal with the trial and error gameplay with annoying blind jumps.
Even when you blow through the main adventure in a few hours, you still should return to the levels for better times and all the unlockable extras.
(out of 10 / not an average)
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