It makes Assassin's Creed 1 look like one ugly beta.
The game picks up almost exactly where the last one left off, with Lucy and Vidic leaving the room, and Desmond developing the Eagle Vision. Desmond escapes with the aid of the Assassins from Abstergo, and vows to help the Assassins defeat the Templars, doing what he does best: Strapping to the Animus chair. While in the Animus, this time Desmond goes back to his paternal ascendants, in the form of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, an Italian Assassin living in Florence during the late 1400s. This time around, characters are much more engaging than in Assassin's Creed 1, even though the present-day scenes are but a fraction of the game(A change I most welcome), Desmond and Lucy have received a bit more personality, as well as the rest of the supporting cast. The cast featured in Ezio's time is even more appealing, Ezio himself being everything that Altair wasn't: Funny, charming, emotive and above all, likeable. Story wasn't particularly bad in AC 1, but AC 2's story is much more involved, intriguing and better written, dialogue is more refined, with a couple of jokes that were more funny than they should've!
New to the series is the monetary system, instead of earning weapons as he killed enemies, like Altair, Ezio now can buy his weapons or armors from Blacksmiths. You can also buy bigger pouches to carry medicine, knives or poison, or even dye his white robes! The best part about all this is that the changes reflect on Ezio himself. Health doesn't restore over time, so visiting doctors to heal or using medicine is a necessity, even though the game is nice enough to heal you completely whenever you start a new mission. Early in the game, Ezio will enter the Villa, a town that can be upgraded by investing money in it, the more it grows, the more money it makes every 20 minutes. Investing as much as you can early on will end up with Ezio swimming in money later in the game, so it's a good idea to upgrade it as early as possible. AC 1 quickly got very repetitive, once again AC 2 tops it by offering more missions types: Assassination, Races, Courier and Beatings. Main Story missions also vary quite widely, you'll go from tailing people to flying on Leonardo's flying machine, competing in a carnival for a golden mask or protecting a boat from bowmen. There's also a slew of sidequests: Gathering all 100 hidden feathers, finding all 20 glyphs(each one rewards you with a very odd puzzle unlike anything else on the game), finding all 73 viewpoints and the 6 Assassin's tombs, each one possessing a platforming challenge that reward you with items to unlock Altair's armor. AC 2 is a very long game, but repetition won't sink in until much later in the game.
Assassin's Creed 1 had some rather large cities, but they seem so small in front of Assassin's Creed 2's Italy. The player can now swim and ride boats, which comes very useful when traversing the watery city of Venice. Each of the game's town(Tuscany, Romania, Forli and Florence(And I'm sure I probably spelt two of them wrong)) are huge and very different from one another, with broadly different flavors making exploring them a joy.
Assassin's Creed 2 is an awesome game, I'd go as far as to say that it makes AC 1 obsolete. Ubisoft did polish a diamond out of a stone, AC 2 is among my favorite games of the last generation, and while the game could use a bit of touching up, to make the framerate steadier for example, polishing certain glitches(Like freezing, which happened to me once but seems to be a rather frequent occurrence, or how certain cutscenes may desynch leaving characters to stab the ground or what have you), it's a great game.
9.0 out of 10