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DS  header logo

Assassin's Creed II: Discovery

For: DS

Silent but deadly

Product: Assassin's Creed II: Discovery | Developer: Griptonite Games | Publisher: Ubisoft | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Assassin's Creed II: Discovery DS, thumbnail 1
If Sonic The Hedgehog and a sword-wielding, parkour-adoring killer procreated, they would give birth to Assassin's Creed II: Discovery.

Of course, considering the technical limitations of the DS, their offspring isn't particularly big and bouncy.

Sensibly, developer Griptonite has gone for the side-scrolling stealth-'em-up approach rather than the free-roaming standard of the home console versions of the series. Still, coupled with an injection of platforming smarts, the result is a well-formed infant that bears a strong family remblesence to its siblings.

Assassin's deed

The main reason of this is the control offered by the game. There are a lot platformers on the DS, but few offer such speed and grace in terms of the movement of the main character and the simplicity of the controls.

To that extent, this is where baby demonstrates something of its paternity to Sonic.

Jumping huge gaps running at full tilt is easily done, and you get a great feeling of reward from doing so. It won’t take long before you’re almost flying through levels, gracefully jumping from rooftop to rooftop as if an extra from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

It's also fairly forgiving. Misjudge a jump and instead of landing on a bed of spikes or watching your legs shatter on impact, Ezio the assassin (the hero of our story), merely lands in a roll or grabs onto the wall, enabling you to climb the rest of the way.

Obviously, you can die from falling, and there will be many times when poor Ezio takes on gravity, only to lose miserably. However, retaking the same killer jump at full speed makes it possible to land in a roll and maintain your bone structure.

There’s a feeling of challenge, too – particularly when you’re required to swing off flagpoles – but there will be a few occasions when you’ll find yourself cursing at the screen, outraged by another failed attempt to clear the gap.

The controls themselves utilise what the DS has to offer. Block and sneak are catered for by the R and L buttons, respectively, and everything else is laid out in a logical manner. The only downside (and perhaps at the fault of my sausage fingers and mash potato hands) was the occasional pain resulting from having to sneak around everywhere (more on this later). Never have the implications of holding a square device tightly become so apparent.

To sneak, or not to sneak…

Aside from jumping about with no regard for your personal safety, the other main part of Discovery is the combat. Tapping the A button unleashes a combo of sword swipes, and is enough to take down most enemies. The AI will block, but a well timed flurry or a quick roll to move behind your assailant will induce their untimely death.

Still, if you think you can just brutally swipe your way from start to finish, think again. While a few missions can be sprinted or smashed through, some require stealth. Get seen too many times in these and you will have to restart. Which is a good thing, because some of the most satisfying moments come from the nicely animated, one-hit stealth kills.

You only need to press A on an unsuspecting enemy and Ezio will perform a variety of slick manoeuvres to end a guard’s life. A particular favourite is when our Venetian hero lunges towards an opponent, disarms him and stabs him before cooly dropping the opponent’s weapon beside his now lifeless body.

Then there are the counters that turn an opponent’s attack to your advantage – again with slick animations displaying Ezio at his finest. Assassin's Creed II: Discovery is very competent in the moves department.

The stealth missions are further welcome in that they break up the game. Each of the levels – while linear in nature – also feels like it's worth exploring and most of the time provides a couple of different routes.

Short cuts

Where the game loses points, however, is longevity. There is nothing wrong with being short and sweet, but here you’re left with a considerable feeling of wanting more. Even when you factor in the hacks you can purchase with points to enhance Ezio's performance, and the replayability of increasing your high scores, extra levels would have been nice.

From a technical perspective there’s also some minor slow-down in fights involving multiple opponents. Perhaps nit-picking an otherwise competent package, but very, very occasionally it happens and your immersion can be damaged.

Still, Assassin's Creed II: Discovery is a more than worthy addition to the Assassin's Creed line-up, and one that won't disappoint, thanks to its combination of fast-paced gameplay and the occasional stealthy slash.
 
Assassin's Creed II: Discovery
Reviewer photo
Ben Griffin | 11 December 2009
While Assassin's Creed II: Discovery isn't going to revolutionise the DS, it gives you the chance to enjoy solidly executed and fast-paced, platforming action
 
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