My infatuation began over two years ago when I attended E3. Ubisoft was promoting the third installment for a future release date of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. The big push was that you were able to compete against other players who were also AI assassins.
The basic premise: Be an assassin, plan your attacks, strike without mercy, then either blend in to make your getaway or fight to escape. And depending on which game you're playing, you are an assassin in either: Jerusalem, 1191AD (The Third Crusade), Italy, 1490AD (The Italian Renaissance) or the upcoming The American Colonies, 1775AD (The American Revolution).
It was the fact that you got to play an assassin from the past - with limiting weapons and defined skills - that initially intrigued me about this series. As the assassin, you are sent on vengeful missions across town, traveling over rooftops and climbing structures, or on ground, blending in with the locals or hiring thieves and courtesans to distract guards to reach your target. It is the perfect blend of action pack excitement, puzzle solving, and stealth techniques, which are not usually combined so well in other games. Not to mention that the maps and graphics are just freaking gorgeous. I have only played Assassin's Creed II, which takes place in 1490AD Italy. All the cities you visit (including Florence and Venice) are historically mapped and recreated. Not to mention that many of your targets were actual people during that time period and you can learn about their real life exploits in the game, if you so choose (fun for history buffs). In fact, the final "boss" is the currently popular Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, because of the Showtime TV Series, The Borgias. Although not an obsession, I do enjoy the series (Season 2 being 10x better than Season 1), and apparently the next title in the Assassin's Creed series: Brotherhood, picks up right where Part II left off and introduces Lucrezia Borgia and her brother, Cesare, whom were suspected of having an incestuous relationship. Here's a review of Assassin's Creed II, which goes into far, far more detail:
Every title thus far, with the exception of Assassin's Creed III (because it will not be released until October 2012) has received excellent reviews by both critics and gamers. I'm not recommending plopping down $500 for a gaming system to play these games; however, if you do own a systme that supports this series, I highly recommend doing what I did and test if you like Assassin's Creed by starting with Part II (maybe even Part I). Being a couple of years old now, they're bargain-bin cheap. I hope this series continues on for a while, maybe even going into the future, as long as Ubisoft continues to produce the series without rushing. At one new title a year, I can see them getting sloppy. By the way, if I had any voice about where they should go next, it would be America, 1870 (The Old West).
For anyone who's interested, here's the demo of Assassin's Creed III, the American Revolution years, I waited over an hour in line to see at E3 this year, now available immediately on YouTube