Finished AC2 a few weeks ago. Here are some thoughts on the game. They're probably a little disjointed, but are otherwise presented as is. Didn't feel like doing a full review.
Parkour – It may have been innovative at the time, but there are just so many flaws with this system that it makes me cry. Admittedly, learning some advanced techniques helps. Knowing that you can grab ledges from any jump using the grab button is enormously helpful. Side-leaping when clambering straight up a wall is also helpful. Otherwise, Ezio just doesn't always go where I want him to which is the problem with any highly automated system, the alternative would have been an entirely manual system, which, while tedious, would at least have been consistent. When it does work however, it works beautifully. Those 5 seconds when the game works during that chase sequence makes you feel powerful and terrifying as you hunt down your prey.
Side-Quests – I'm not a completionist. I also didn't fall in love with the game. I also want to continue to work my way through the rest of the assassin's creed games. All that to say, I wanted to avoid needless side-quests as much as possible. What little I did play were either great or awful. The assassin tombs, templar fortresses and assassin contracts were great fun. Everything else was tedious, boring or broken.
Story – Everyone loves Ezio. They keep telling me, he's their favorite character. I'm just not seeing it. He acts like a whiny little girl the first ¾ of the whole game, crying about his family, effectively for ten years straight. This game is supposed to be several years worth of his life, and he never matures throughout the whole thing. In AC1, I always understood why I was killing these people. This guy experimented on people, that guy feasted on food while his city starved. In this game, the people you kill may or may not be part of a conspiracy that killed part of your family. And then Ezio goes on a hissy fit and won't stop whining about revenge for the next 5-10 years of his life. Admittedly at the very end of the game, it's extremely satisfying when _____ starts talking to him and he just freaks out cause he has no idea what's going on.
Being an Assassin – Stabbing people is fun. When you get to the ninth sequence, you get this mask that makes you permanently anonymous. When that happens, going around and killing all the guards is easily one of the most fun parts of the game. It's incredibly satisfying just stabbing lots of people with your hidden blades. Ubisoft did a good job of making the hidden blades work as a weapon. It feels kinetic, satisfying, and well-crafted. Whoever came up with this weapon should get a medal.
Weapons – You get this cool set of weapons, and then the only ones that are effective by the endgame are the Sword of Altair, the hidden blades, and smoke bombs. Different other weapons have a couple of uses but become less effective as the game progresses. Stealing polearms and claymores and wrecking people with them is fantastic. Ultimately, hidden blade counter kills just work so well, there's hardly any reason to use anything else.
Notoriety – Fantastic idea, poor execution. It should have been way easier to accumulate notoriety and much harder to get rid of it. Poster's should only reduce notoriety by about 5%, bribing crier's by about 10%, and assassinating informants about 25%. Otherwise, the idea itself is fantastic. Also, citizens should inform on you to guards as your notoriety rises.
Sequence 12 and 13 – Sequence 12 and 13 were pretty cool. Especially since I believe they weren't released with the game when it came out. That said, having to go back and find all the codex pages reminds me too much of the wind waker end-quest. Ugh.
When it works –When you slink through a crowd using cover, to stealthily approach your kill with extreme prejudice, watching all the different guards up until you break out of the crowd and leap through the air for that perfect kill. Except then, he saw you through the wall and he's running away for some reason. Why doesn't it work when you want it to? I don't know. When it works, it's great. The rest of the time...meh.
Basically...when the game works exactly when it's supposed to, it's terrific fun. Whether it's combat, stealth, whatever. The problem is that rarely happens. Oh well, i'll just keep soldering on. AC: Brotherhood is next. I'll start it eventually. If you guys have any thoughts or suggestions on how to better enjoy the game, please let me know. I want to like these games.