Assassin's Creed is an ambitious but disappointing effort.
The premise for assassins creed is great, a stealth game set in medieval Jerusalem. if it's done authentically with attention to detail then that in itself could be the makings of something special. Why add American scientists probing DNA strands to trace the lineage of the assassin back to relive his ancestors memories?...I have no idea. For me this clumbsy plot mechanic totally spoils the immersion into the rich game world that is set out before Altair.
Then there's Altair himself, why is he the only one with a snide American accent when everyone else speaks with a middle eastern inflection? Why can he not hide the bodies of his victims so he doesn't alert the guards ala 47 in Hitman? I find Altair an unlikeable character, there are many times during the game where I longed for the ability to have some influence on Altair's spoken interaction with the games characters. A light roleplaying element with minor consequences definitely would have improved my chances of putting up with Altair who is basically a hotheaded egoist.
For the first hour of play I felt left out, I made no decisions and I didnt have to really think about anything while the game held my hand through laborious tutorial stages. Then just as I felt ready to explore the medieval city I had to play as Altair's descendant walking around with nothing much to do other than listen to wooden dialouge and walk PAINFULLY SLOWLY around the place, for what seemed like a long, long time.
I persevered and managed to plough on into the game, The mission structures are unfortunately very linear, and "side-quests" of eavesdropping, pick pocketing and intimidating for information are bland and increbibly repetative excuses to lengthen the game. Escaping after the assassination has taken place is an exciting part of the game however the controls, for all their imagination just don't seem to cut it when you find yourself in a pinch. It takes a while to get used to the controls in this game, they've taken the context sensitive idea (like in Hitman where the options assigned to buttons is displayed in the top right) and taken it a step further so context sensitivity dominates the entire control scheme. Some gamers may enjoy this system, unfortunately I'm not one of them. Give me an honest JUMP button please!
You need a lot of patience with this game since in order to play like an assassin you'll need to walk really slowly across large distances in order not to get attacked by the tetchy guards (all of whom keep a photo of you emailed to their blackberries that they use for reference!), who won't even let you canter a horse past them.
Overall, Assassins Creed looks fantastic and had a lot of potential to be a great game but it totally flounders on one crucial ingrediant. The game just isn't fun, it's a rather dull rinse and repeat experience with a flimsy plot. All of this is a great shame considering the care and attention that has been lavished on the game world, with all the streets and rooftops that you can climb to a chorus of villagers who'll stand there watching and repeating the eternal question: "what is that man doing? is he mad?"
I recommend trying this out on a rental as you may like it, a lot of people think it's the greatest game ever. I disagree, Assassin's Creed clearly doesn't stand shoulder to shoulder with games like Bioshock, Orange Box, COD4, Halo 3 (yes I know these are all of a different genre but nevertheless they are of a much higher overall quality), So right now i'm just like Assassin's WHAT? and I'm waiting for the next Hitman game!