The addition of a monetary system also drastically changes Assassin’s Creed II. Ezio receives money as he completes quests, finds treasures, or pickpockets victims. Health will not regenerate completely over time, so medicine and upgradeable armor must be purchased to keep Ezio alive.
Besides applying funds to armor, weaponry, and remedies, you also have the ability to upgrade your home base — a Villa in the country-side. The Villa is something of a glorified display case for all of the collectibles and secret items, but players can also dedicate money to upgrading its appearance and facilities. Rebuild the church and find a treasure; rebuild the blacksmith and get a discount. It’s an addictive and optional diversion that completionists will drool over.
The Villa also gives the game a geographic center and a safe zone to tally your progress. Annoyingly, it’s also the only place Ezio can swap weapons and armor, but the addition of travel kiosks mean that players can now be transported to surrounding cities instantly.
Through the mission structure, Assassin’s Creed II guides and nudges players towards the meat of the game. At the start of each mission the player must “accept” the task, or put it off until later. The missions that advance the story are always marked on the map with an exclamation point, meaning that a game with plenty of diversions also keeps the main goal visible at all times. It’s a good design and a nod to critics of the last game who bemoaned side missions that stood in the way of the good stuff.