You know how when a new movie comes out, and the week before, there are a series of special TV programs talking about the making of the movie? They interview the stars, they talk about the wardrobe, and ultimately do a real exposé on how that movie came to be?
If the same could be done for a video game, Assassin's Creed 2 would be that game. Not only are we going to find out why, but we are going to learn how this top selling sequel performs in stereoscopic 3D on DDD, iZ3D, and Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision solutions!
General Game Review
Assassins Creed 2 is a third person action game with two major plots. The first takes place in 2012 where you play Desmond Miles who has just escaped from Abstergo Industries. It is here that you relived early "genetic memories" of being an Assassin named Altair through a machine called "The Animus". The Altair story was played out in the original Assassin's Creed, in case you were wondering.
After being jail-broken and whisked away to a secret hide-out, Assassin's Creed 2 continues the story through a new past life, that of Ezio Auditore da Firenze. We will just call him Ezio, ok?
Young Ezio lives in late fifteenth century Italy during the Renaissance period, and learns the Assassin's trade after his father and brothers are murdered by a traitor. This is where things really heat up.
If you have never played the original Assassin's Creed, don't worry. The sequel plays out as an introduction to being an Assassin. You literally start out as a borderline street punk with only the shirt on your back for protection. After some experience, you get some weapons, inherit a spring loaded wrist knife (I don't know what else to call it), and start disposing of those that wronged you.
Now I don't know who Ezio's gym teacher was, but no building is too high to climb. While you will be running through the streets your fair share, you will also be running on rooftops and balancing across wires. As you advance, you will have to climb increasingly challenging buildings to find "Eagle Viewpoints". Once climbed, your map grows more enhanced and features new side missions, treasures, and highlights.
There are two aspects to the game. First is the main storyline which you progress through by following through on the missions, etc. Then there are optional side missions like races, fast paced deliveries, contract assassinations, and beating up the occasional cheating spouse. This is all done to make money for buying better weapons, armour, ammunition, and more.
You also need "codex pages". These are ancient schematic sheets that do everything from unlocking new weapons to teaching you new abilities. Who better to decipher them than a young Leonardo Da Vinci? I'm not joking.
Even when you are eventually armed to the teeth (yes, I played that long), you don't want to be in a one against a thousand scenario - at least not every five minutes. Depending on how notorious you are, the guards will be on the lookout. You will have to learn to blend with the crowds and hire thieves and prostitutes to distract the guards for you. Other times, you will have to do things the old fashioned way: assassinate your target and run like the wind!
It's not every day you play a video game where the main character is a professional assassin who works with thieves and prostitutes. It doesn't exactly sound heroic, and there is a lot of adult innuendo. Keep this in mind if you are buying this for your kids (or your hubby!). That said, the story and scripting works very well.
Now, what makes Assassin's Creed 2 stand out above all else are its detailed environments and authenticity. So much so, it's easy to take for granted. Imagine walking through city streets with crowds and crowds of people around you. Now, imagine all these people dressed in complex and elaborate clothing, and moving about with purpose. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion seems like child's play in comparison (though that is still very impressive, even today!).
I think the artwork is much better in Assassin's Creed 2 than in the original. As an example, grab hold of a horse when you can and look at the grace in the way it moves its legs and bobs its head. It's the near perfect implementation of all the small details that completes Assassin's Creed 2's memorable experience.
Now the big question...how was Assassin's Creed 2 in stereoscopic 3D?
Nvidia Stereoscopic 3D Findings
Maingear X-Cube Intel Core I7 Processor 2.66GHZ 6GB RAM 2 X GTX 275 (SLI) Windows 7 64 Bit NVIDIA 257.15 Stereo Driver NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision / Samsung 2233RZ Monitor
Nvidia's stereoscopic 3D drivers did a wonderful job with Assassin's Creed 2. You can achieve a combined depth and pop-out experience and the graphics settings can be set to maximum.
Assassin's Creed 2 is nothing less than stunning in stereoscopic 3D. If you think climbing skyscrapers was scary before, it's much more effective in S-3D. Running across rooftops, the cut scenes, riding on horses...all excellent!
Assassin's Creed 2 in 3D on Nvidia drivers YouTube Link with 3D viewing options
There is a very minor anomaly that happens once in a blue moon where the shadows are misaligned with the characters. It's extremely rare, but it happens once in awhile. Also, the 2D Skybox is incorrect in some cases - like the moon's left right views being rendered in reverse. Nothing earth shattering, but there is the occasional flaw here and there.
While our system didn't skip a beat, I would recommend a GTX200 series GPU for the best performance. You might be able to get away with an 8800 series GPU if you turn down some settings.
iZ3D Stereoscopic 3D Findings
AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM EVGA GTX285 Windows 7 64 Bit Zalmon Trimon 22" Monitor iZ3D drivers 1.11B2
Let me begin by saying you will enjoy the game in stereoscopic 3D. Similar to Nvidia, you can have the settings on full, and they even share the same shadow anomaly. The 2D Skybox is also rendered incorrectly, except instead of having the left/right images reverse, some sky objects are rendered at screen depth (e.g. the moon).
Unfortunately, the movie cut scenes regularly fall out of whack with crazy levels of separation. You can try iZ3D's auto-convergence feature and the option to create hotkeys for alternative camera angles, but I would prefer something that didn't require this distraction.
If this one issue could be fixed, the iZ3D experience would be identical to that of Nvidia's. Perhaps Ubisoft can design future games to have consistent camera angle expectations, or maybe this can easily be fixed at iZ3D's end. We'll have to wait and see. For now, I would estimate 90% of the game can be played without problems.
The game should perform well on a GTX200 series card or an AMD 4800 series GPU.
DDD Stereoscopic 3D Findings
AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM EVGA GTX285 Windows 7 64 Bit Zalmon Trimon 22" Monitor Tridef Ignition 2.7.3
Please note that all driver developers were given seven days notice prior to this review, and DDD shared an updated driver which has not been released publicly yet. When released, we are certain it will included the Assassin's Creed 2 profile discussed here.
DDD's results were very similar to Nvidia's, but they didn't have the 2D Skybox problems. Unfortunately, similar to iZ3D, the movie cut-scenes fall out of whack too - though not as often, for some reason. With a bit more optimization, this profile could take the cake...but not yet.
While I normally find it pretty easy to shelf a game after a few hours and move on to the next, Assassin's Creed 2 was the exception. Like a good book with a great story, I can't count the hours I happily invested in this title, and I recommend you do the same.
While DDD and iZ3D were hindered by movie cut scene problems compared to Nvidia's driver solution, Assassin's Creed 2 earns our blessing on all three product lines. As long as you are aware of this setback ahead of time, I think you will be happy with it.
The stereoscopic 3D effectiveness grades for DDD, iZ3D, and Nvidia's GeForce 3D Vision drivers are all based on MTBS' 3D Game Analyzer. Please check out our full Assassin's Creed 2 gallery of images, and share your comments below.