This game is phenomenal and a must play for fans of Prince of Persia and Assassin's Creed!!!
There are two distinct main stories, Ezio (past) and Desmond (present), a side story: Subject 16 (pseudo past/present) and then the codex journal story (past).
Ezio's follows the typical plot of "lust for power", where various "evil" people are vying for social and political control of people and ultimately world domination. Watching the web of connections unravel as you play is interesting. It's fulfilling to watch as the enemie's house of cards falls apart as Ezio "deals" with all the people involved in the scheme. Ultimately it's predictable, with only one major plot twist that caught me off guard.
The second story is carried over from the first game. If you haven't played the first game then you'll probably have a hard time keeping up with all that's said in reference to the first game (which is a lot). This story is about why the Desmond is in the center of this massive power struggle between the Assassin's and the Templar. This game didn't really elaborate on his story too much. There are only about 2-3 times in the whole game you learn anything about Desmond's story, most of the game focuses on Ezio's story.
The side story is the best part. I can't say anything about it without spoiling it, so I'll just say that it's one of the most emotional charged, self reflection, social criticisms I've ever seen!!!
The codex journal is also a mini story that gives more depth to the events of the first game.
Overall, the main stories were ok, so far!!! (cliff hanger ending) but the real meat is in the side stories.
Score: Main Stories 7/10, Side Stories 10/10
Excellent. It's basically the same thing as the first game, but with more details and stuff. There's more enemy types, more environments, more weapons, new customization choices, better facial modeling and the list goes on. It's one of the best looking current gen games I've seen.
The only problem here is there was way too many pop-ups, glitches, blemishes, graphical slowdown, etc... in such a very well made game.
While I played:
The game froze 3 times
There were 20+ times graphical pop-ups (i.e. teal screen flashed in at random times)
Ezio was walking on air 2-3 times
The game slowed down when I fought 6 enemies at once
Ezio wouldn't climb ladders sometimes
Overall the rest of the game was well polished, but the above problems were too numerous for such a AAA title.
The combat is the same as the first game, just with some more tweeks.
The game is 3rd person action. You can climb up anything you see, well as long as you can find a way to climb it.
Combat involves targeting an enemy and choosing one of many options to defeat them.
You can either direct attack, counter, grab, dodge, one-hit kill, strafe or run away.
If you're sneaky enough to reach an enemy before they notice you, then you can perform an instant kill with a sword or your hidden blades (a single blade under arm version of Wolverine's claws)
It's very visceral and satisfying to kill enemies in the above fashion
If you can't handle the heat then you can run and hide in a hay bale or in the ocean (a new addition)
The game is situated in Italy so you visit places like the floating city of Venice. This adds things like ships, gondola's and water that all add new layers of strategic depth in executing your plans.
This game is a huge sandbox game like GTA, where you can go anywhere and do whatever you want.
The mission types all feel interesting and fresh. Even the same types of missions differ in their execution.
The 2nd game also has a lot of customization choices. From the weapons you use, to the armor you use is all unique and interesting. You can even renovate a dilapidated villa with new buildings like a blacksmith, bank and even a brothel... that all help generate revenue that you can use to buy new armor, paintings, bribe people, etc...
Overall, the dev team listened to the criticisms of fans of the first game and made improvements on those issues. Those improvements paid off and made the 2nd game more fluid and enjoyable.
The music is excellent. There isn't much playing, but when it's there it's helps deliver the emotions and feeling at that particular moment. I wish there was more playing.
The sound effects are top notch too. The sounds of swords clashing or guns firing is authentic and great.
The voice acting is great, but some of the VA do poor Italiano accents. That reminds me, one of the character's is name Mario and when Ezio first meet him, Ezio says, "I don't know you" and Mario says, "Hey!!!, it's a me MARIO!!!"
I'd say only the person who plays the "Spaniard" really nails his character and accent right!!!
In my opinion, this game is a one-time play. Sure you can go back and finish all the uncompleted missions or find all the hidden things.... but once you see the credits, you don't really want to finish up all the loose ends, especially when the rewards are only more money or trophies/achievements.
I usually like to get all, or at least most of these extras in other games, but I didn't want to in this game...
Score: My view - 6/10, For everyone else - 9/10
Overall, it's a great game that builds on the foundation of the first one. You don't have to play the first one to understand Ezio's story (for the most part), but you won't enjoy or understand all the other aspects of the story(s) otherwise. It vastly improves on its predecessor in every way, making the overall experience more enjoyable. It's worth one play through at the very least.
Don't miss out on a phenomenal game
Overall Score: 9.5/10