|Developer(s): Ubisoft Montreal
Platform(s): Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release date(s): November 17, 2009
Genre(s): Third-person action-adventure, open world
Assassin’s Creed II begins immediately after the events of the first game in 2012; Desmond Miles is still trapped by Abstergo Industries (the modern-day face of the Knights Templar) after being forced to use the Animus device to revisit genetic memories of the Assassin Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, and has discovered prophetic warnings from Subject 16 (a previous captive) describing the end of the world. He is soon rescued by Lucy Stillman, a mole for the Assassins within Abstergo, who takes him to meet two other Assassins, historian Shaun Hastings and computer expert Rebecca Crane. They request that Desmond use their version of the Animus, the Animus 2.0, to relive memories of another Assassin, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, not only to learn of the location of more Pieces of Eden (which Abstergo is seeking), but to also train Desmond in the ways of the Assassins through the “Bleeding Effect” of the Animus. During his exposure, Desmond finds himself briefly struck by a puzzling memory of Altaïr and his lover, a former Templar named Maria who became pregnant with his child. Desmond also finds various glyphs left by Subject 16 in the Animus, which, when decoded and assembled, form a brief video of a man and woman, “Adam” and “Eve”, running through a futuristic setting called “Eden”. The video ends with the binary for “Eden”.
Ezio’s memories begin during the Renaissance in the 15th century, where his family is ensnared in a political plot, and his father and brothers are hanged. Ezio, following his father’s last advice, finds his father’s Assassin tools, and flees the city with his mother and sister to the safety of his uncle Mario’s villa in the countryside. Mario assists Ezio in discovering the people behind the conspiracy, the search leading Ezio from Florence, to San Gimignano, Forlì, Venice and eventually to Rome. As he identifies and assassinates more and more political figures, Ezio also gains several allies, including Niccolò Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci, the latter of whom helps Ezio improve his equipment using schematics found in Altaïr’s Codex pages. Ezio eventually identifies the mastermind of the plot: the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia, who ultimately sought to bring down the Medici family in Florence with the help of the Pazzi family and the Doge of Venice. Ezio finds Borgia in possession of the Apple– the same Piece of Eden that Altaïr had recovered centuries ago– and learns that Borgia believes himself to be “The Prophet” that will lead the Templars to a fabled “Vault”. Ezio is able to confront Borgia with the help of his allies and recover the Apple, and Borgia flees before he can be killed. Ezio’s allies reveal they are all Assassins, and see Ezio as their Prophet, allowing him to join their ranks.
Several years of Ezio’s memories are inaccessible from the Animus, and Desmond can only revisit those starting in 1499, where Ezio and the Assassins plan to attack Borgia (now Pope Alexander VI) at Vatican City. Ezio corners Borgia and strikes him down, but cannot come to kill him, as he knows that will not bring back his family. Ezio uses the Apple and the Papal cross (which is also a Piece of Eden), and discovers the entrance to the Vault. Inside, he is confused when a holographic figure, calling herself Minerva, appears. Speaking directly to Desmond and those monitoring him in 2012, she explains that she was part of a far more advanced society that initially co-existed along with the early humans on Earth before they faced each other in war. A global catastrophe occurred that nearly wiped out both sides, and the survivors joined together to construct temples across the Earth to allow humans to prevent a similar catastrophe in the future. Before the hologram disappears, she warns Desmond, by name, that “the rest is up to you”.
Shortly after recovering this memory, Desmond and the others are forced to flee with the Animus from their location as Abstergo troops surround it. As they head toward a new safe house, Lucy explains that there are newly discovered weaknesses in the Earth’s magnetic field; a solar flare striking this weakness would cause a similar level of global destruction as described by Minerva. Desmond resolves to help the Assassins find these temples, and prepares to reenter the Animus.