Don't worry about missing out on all the cool Assassin's Creed 2 bonus maps if you don't pre-order the game: Patrice Desilets of Ubisoft Montreal says all the content will "eventually" be available to everyone.
It's a common sales tactic: Pre-order a game at one retailer or another and receive some kind of exclusive bonus crapola in exchange. It's usually a game-related tchotchke like the No One Lives Forever 2 spy listening device or the Doom 3 pinkie demon miniature, but every now and then a publisher will link actual in-game content to a specific retailer. Such is the case with Assassin's Creed 2; gamers who pre-order the game from Gamestop (or Game or Play.com in the U.K.) will receive one, two or even three "exclusive" bonus maps, depending on the version they buy.
It can be frustrating for those who don't, or can't, pre-order, but Desilets, the creative director on Assassin's Creed 2, says not to worry, because we'll all get a crack at it sooner or later. "Eventually everyone will have the entire game. I made sure of that," he told Kotaku. "Because I'm Canadian, I don't have the same shops as you do. So I wanted to make sure I could at least someday play everything in the game. Eventually there's going to be, okay, let's unlock everything."
He didn't give any hint as to when or how this will happen but it's good to know that at some point we'll all have access to the same stuff. It's a smart move by Ubisoft; I love pre-order junk but being denied part of the game because I spent my money at the wrong retailer is another matter entirely. It leaves me feeling vaguely ripped off, and that leaves me feeling vaguely like buying somebody else's game.