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The Assassin’s Creed 2 remaster got weird (update)

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What happened to Ezio?

On Nov. 15, Ubisoft released Assassin’s Creed The Ezio Collection for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It encompasses the trilogy of games about Ezio Auditore da Firenze, which are widely considered the strongest portion of the long-running Assassin’s Creed series.

We took a spin in the remastered Assassin’s Creed 2, and compared it to the backward-compatible Assassin’s Creed 2 that was originally released on the Xbox 360. We played both versions on the Xbox One.

Right off the bat you’ll notice that something ... happened. There are some definite improvements in the remastered version. The draw distance is clearer, it has better anti-aliasing and colors are more vibrant. The stonework on the buildings is also more defined.

But whatever attention was paid to rendering the beautiful buildings of Florence seems to have gone missing on the characters’ faces. Ezio’s tan skin has been lightened to blotchy pink, in what looks like an effort to add texture. All the main characters suffer a little from patchy skin and popping eyes. But the biggest victim is this guy right here:

Assassin's Creed 2 Weird
Cos'è questo?
Ubisoft Montreal/Virtuos/Ubisoft via Polygon

What happened to him? His outfit has even changed between the original (top) and the remaster (below). He applied a nice shade of plum lipstick and did some work on his brows. And those eyes!

The faces aren’t the only thing that changed. Ezio now climbs like a freaking spider monkey.

Assassin's Creed 2 Climb Speed
This is not sped up.
Ubisoft via Polygon

In playing the remaster, it felt like I was getting stuck on buildings more often. When I reached the top of a building, Ezio would refuse to climb up onto the roof.

It’s not all bad. Check out the 2:16 mark to see a beautiful Italian sunrise. The roof tiles and stonework look great — these are definite improvements.

But I don’t think anyone could say that the character models have been improved, and somehow the gameplay has become clumsier. Replaying the original Assassin’s Creed 2 on the Xbox One emphasizes how much it is a product of its time. Still, it’s a classic. The strange new animation choices and character updates of the remaster take away some of the charm from a much-loved game.

Update: Polygon’s Arthur Gies tested Assassin’s Creed The Ezio Collection on another Xbox One and was unable to reproduce the same fast Ezio traversal glitch that I got. What’s more, we haven’t seen PlayStation 4 players affected by the same glitch, though I did find a GameFAQs post where someone experienced the glitch ... seven years ago in the original Assassin’s Creed 2. Some bugs are hard to stamp out.

As far as our friend Giuseppe goes, I watched some other gameplay and the PlayStation 4 version (as well as the existing PC version of Assassin’s Creed 2) features a different NPC:

When Arthur played his version of the game on Xbox One, he got this guy:

Assassin's Creed 2 Ezio Collection
A challenger arises.
Ubisoft via Polygon

He’s still sporting the new outfit and coloring, but he’s a little more ... restrained.

We’ve reached out to Ubisoft for comment and will update the article accordingly.