So I been playing Assassin's Creed 2 Since it came out, And I think its one of the best Single player action experiences I have hand in a while. Now, I enjoyed the first game, and I'm a fan of Ubisoft's style of storytelling (with the exception of the 360 Prince of Persia, but that's another story). I will admit the first game had some issues. One common complaint was that the game repeated the same 5 or so gameplay type over and over, with no variation. While their was some truth to this, I found my own fun in finding new ways to approach, and making clean get-a-ways. Personally my major complaint was that with all the agency the game allowed you, with all the ways you were allowed to do stuff, the major thing I wanted to do was to attack or try to escape during the frame story portion of the game.
Assassins Creed 2 starts out filling this major let down of the first with your escape from the room you spent the frame story in the first game. After a introduction of a few new friends its back into the machine to relive the actions of Ezio, another one of your ancestors.
Ezio is to Altair as the cast of left for Dead is to Gordon Freeman. You didn't know much about Altair and, to be frank, he was kinda of a prick. other than that Altair was what you made him, killing or not killing minor npcs and giving you limited control during cut screens, making you the director of them. Ezio's personality is more evident, and very empathetic. He has family, and Hes not just following orders, hes working to making his family and his town safe.
The inclusion of money and more collectible equipment, while causing some conflict with the whole replaying memory framework, also makes the gameplay more fulfilling. much like an RPG, your constantly upgrading either yourself or your estate, making you feel like you are making a difference. the AI and combat has also improved, making for some interesting interplay with the missions you take on. The game not very difficult, however, and mistakes feel like they are do to the AI trying to hard and misreading what you want to do. Most of the damage I take in the game is do to missing a jump because it vent off in an unintended angle.
The level design is amazing though, and I would love to see the same sort of detail in a instance based MMO sometime in the future. the cities are alive and the random comments are a bit more believable then the first game. Also the Game is long, and has 200 missions, 100 of which are optional. I been playing it though doing each one before moving on however, and am enjoying each one. As someone commented on reddit, it seems with the tech and engine built from the first game, they really could focus on content and make a great game. and Example of this is the Prince of Persia style tomb levels, providing a nice break from the city scape.
So in the end if you like Prince of Persia the sands of time or the fist game, this is a must buy. If you wanted to like the first game, rent it and I think you will enjoy it. Even if you hated the first game, the story is significantly more interesting and might surprise you. give it a try.