By Kim Mitchell
Assassin’s Creed by Ubisoft promises a mix of history and murderous fun, but does it hold up to the promise?
Taking place during the religious crusades in the 12th century, you assume the role of Altair who will relive his past life in hopes to right all his wrongs so that he may regain his status in the Assassin Order. Altair has been stripped of his rank and must start over with very few skills or weapons. With each assassination mission you complete, Altair’s rank increases and more skills become available.
Altair is extremely agile, and climbing buildings is a requirement to progress through the game. There are over a hundred buildings with towers and “viewpoints” that you must climb in order to unlock more areas of the game.
Each city has a bureau chief you must visit to receive your assassination missions. There are nine major assassinations in all. Each of these chiefs will ask you to do some investigations, come back for their approval, and move on to the actual killing of each target. It’s all very cut and dry, rinse and repeat for each mission. You will do this for each of the nine missions.
Along the way there are some side quests such as saving a citizen that the guards are harassing, pick-pocketing characters, escort missions, and eavesdropping on conversations.
If you blend in with the crowd this allows the silent assassination of your targets. Blending isn’t truly hidden stealth, it’s just becoming part of the crowd and not bringing any attention to yourself. It’s easy to blend, kill, and blend again.
I was disappointed that you can run through cities and fight hundreds of guards without any drawbacks to the story other than attracting attention and perhaps having more guards on high alert. I killed innocents and the helpful guards that came to their rescue, and that was the end of it. I just had to hide in a bale of hay afterwards and all was well. Moments later, the passing crowds acted like they never saw a thing.
There are flags hidden throughout the kingdom. Kings’ Flags, Jerusalem Crosses, Saracen’s Flags and so forth. There can be up to a hundred of each to collect and it’s a daunting task to try to find ALL of them. I started out wanting to do this but after a couple hours I gave up. I’m unsure why Ubisoft included this type of game play in Assassin’s Creed because it doesn’t add any enhancement to the game whatsoever.
As cut scenes play out you will see a visual glitch in the system, your screen will change slightly, and if you press a button on your mouse/keyboard/controller during this glitch, the viewpoint will change and an enhanced cut scene will be presented.
Console ports do not always fair well in the PC gamers world and Assassin’s Creed is no exception. I had an extremely difficult time using the keyboard/mouse combo so I had to plug in a gamepad to do all the dirty work. I fully expected this ahead of time, but for review purposes I gave both types of controls a fair shot. Using an Xbox 360 controller made a world of difference when fighting, jumping and climbing.
On the positive side, the game looks very rich and immersive in stereoscopic 3D. The cities are extremely detailed and gigantic in size, with hundreds of characters walking the streets in an environment of countless buildings. Each place and character seemed very realistic and I did feel as though I was walking on the streets of the city. I think if there was more interaction with objects, and they allowed you to enter more buildings then there would be a real sensation of being a “real” part of the game.
For stereoscopic 3D testing, I am using an iZ3D 22” monitor with their 1.07 S-3D drivers. My hardware includes an EVGA 8800GTS 640MB, 4GB RAM, an Intel Core2 Duo E6600 over-clocked to 3.2GHZ, and Windows XP SP2.
When looking into the city from very high viewpoint areas, there is a lot of stereoscopic 3D depth in the landscape. I find most scenes render nicely in S-3D although there are some areas where the distant background is somewhat blurred out.
Performance can be an issue when using stereoscopic 3D during cut-scenes because the animations will not be in sync with the voice. You can be left waiting for mouths to stop moving and gestures to finish before you can continue on in the game.
There are a variety of easily done combat moves just by pushing a couple buttons on your gamepad. For me this is crucial as I do not like to mash five or six buttons during combat. While doing these moves the camera zooms in on your character and the enemy you are fighting. It gives an up close and personal feeling which looks great in stereoscopic 3D.
The game’s high level of detail causes slowdowns while playing in S-3D mode. Altair’s walking speed and combat will be slower than normal, although not so much that it’s unplayable. You can turn down some of the shadows and thin out the crowds in the city but in the end it still doesn’t do quite enough in some areas. I find turning down the level of detail helps more than anything, but this can really take away from the beauty of the game. It’s also important to keep multi-sampling turned down to “one” or the game will crash when playing stereo 3D using the iZ3D 1.07 drivers.
Assassin’s Creed is a wide-screen title, and the iZ3D’s driver status won’t disappear from the top border. The numbers seem to become distorted and overlapping when adjusting the settings. If this is a distraction for you, you can turn the “On Screen Display” off in the iZ3D driver by setting ShowOSD Value=”0″ in the iZ3D driver config file.
Part of the interface is called the “Animus”. You rarely see it in the game, but if you have high convergence or pop-out settings, it will be split or separated too much to be used. If Ubisoft is reading this, please be consistent with your game camera angles and interface depth. Fortunately, the HUD was completely viewable and rendered at screen depth. A similar problem happens where mist or smoke isn’t properly seen in both eyes in high separation and pop-out situations.
We have informed iZ3D and Ubisoft of these issues, and we hope that a future driver revision and/or game patch will improve the game’s performance and rendering.
Overall this game was not as complex as I’d hoped it would be, but the stereoscopic 3D brought out visually stunning scenes that would have otherwise been missed. A very pleasing game to the stereoscopic eye.
How Memorable Is This Game
Stereoscopic Effectiveness iZ3D
Stereoscopic Effectiveness NVIDIA
iZ3D Overall Rating:
NVIDIA Overall Rating