+++ Al Mualim is awesome
++ Varied, detailed environments featuring historical locations
++ Great voice acting
++ Excellent Story behind each mission
+ Excellent graphics
+ Templar sidequest is fun
+ Acre is great
-- Game throws over a hundred enemies at you near the end as opposed to letting you sneak around and stealthily assassinate people
-- Players are forced to do a variety of repetitive missions prior to each assassination, only a few of which are entertaining
- Incessant beeping sound when you're trying to get away will drive you insane
- Only one enemy can be stealth killed to initiate combat
- Excessive fighting to do optional objectives
- Weak Combat system
- Damascus is pretty bland
- Inability to swim despite ridiculous athletic capacity to climb anything no matter how impossible it might be
Assassin's Creed follows the recent trend of popular series in that the second game is vastly superior to the first game in almost every way. The exception to this rule here is that the storyline is much better here, and the whole assassin's hideout area is much better. I do not think the slightly slower travel in this game is much of a hindrance to the overall gameplay given the great atmosphere that develops as you ride between locations for the first time (and can subsequently fast travel afterward). I played the second game first and I actually enjoyed the combat in that game. Of course there were a crapload more ways to kill opponents and not as many enemies in single engagements (as opposed to the repetitive but not very difficult fights against 15+ crusaders in this game).
An interesting thing to note is the second game says "I am an Assassin" quite clearly on the back cover summary, which is undoubtedly a reference to the Zero Punctuation review and in fact the game takes pretty much every idea of Yahtzee's and implements it in the second game, which doesn't stop him from bitching about that one either (though halfheartedly so it would seem). That's one of the oldest reviews and thus one of the better ones so I'd suggest you watch it and then consider how influential Yahtzee can be, assuming you've played either game.
My love affair with the combat system in the second game was rather quickly disrupted in this one, as I found myself unable to pick up that shiny 2 handed sword for a bit and one shot people by stabbing it right in their skull until it stuck there. Also while the "kill 5 people to save citizen who then helps you" miniquests are a good idea in theory they come off pretty terrible in concept. Sometimes there's 3 guards and no other guard comes near, and you win quite easily. Other times there's 27 guards that come out of nowhere because the moron was on a major street corner and thereby in the patrol path of 500 other crusaders. It's funny when they keep saying their same tired old responses while you stand on a carpet of dead bodies. "Thanks for your help murdering 50 city guards sir, how kind of you! I only wish my sons were half as brave as you." So while I initially had fun with that part it quickly grew tiresome and I realized how things that were likable and well done in the second game were comparitively awful in the first game despite them feeling around the same.
The last couple of assassination missions simply throw hundreds of enemies at you along your way to the target, and while it is possible to quickly get to the first assassinations quickly without being seen by too many crusaders, in these last few missions you are forced to fight them all, which is painfully dull and tedious. Also the best way to get away is frequently also just murder everyone who comes after you, they seem to have ridiculous fields of vision only broken miraculously every once in a while or if you climb a very obvious tower in clear line of sight. Also if you just murder everyone you don't have to hear that awful beeping sound. The second game only had awesome music when you were being chase and while it was perhaps too easy to get away it was still enjoyable to occasionally get in a brawl for the hell of it. Unfortunately this game quickly becomes a mediocre hack and slash at best despite having some great atmospheric qualities about it.
The best thing about this game is the storyline, no matter how retarded and awful the route to the assassinations were the killing itself was always entertaining. Additionally after every mission you get to go talk to Al Mualim, the head of the assassination's order, again, who has an outstanding voice actor and is essentially always riveting no matter what he says. I played for an hour to an hour and a half routinely just longing for those brief 5 minute speeches by Al Mualim, which were pretty much always worth it. This is the one thing this game has that Assassins Creed 2 did not, an interesting, masterful character who tells you who to kill. As much as the vengeance storyline in 2 is noble it's still sort of meh, the fun in that game is the massive exploration and trying out new methods to murdering people as opposed to actually following the storyline (though the last mission is great). Creed would be a pretty solid game in 2007 but playing it now it suffers quite a bit.
Final Grade: 7/10