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TIPPING THE SCALES OF POWER WITH YOUR KNIFE
on 13 April 2008
This is on of the most anticipated games to be ported to PCs. For this, the Director's Cut edition was produced, adding some content over the console versions (mostly rooftop action missions), and care was taken to make the gamepad to keyboard/mouse-transition as seamless as possible. For the most part it was successful.
This is a TREMENDOUSLY BEAUTIFULLY GAME. The first thing that grabs you is how REAL the city environments feel. The graphics are just OUT OF THIS WORLD! You will need a very good PC to enjoy their full potential (minimum requirements provided below), but real skies, dynamic shadows, facial expressions and realistically flowing robes are only beginning to describe it! Run on a roof and the other citizens will gather around and comment on your crazy behavior! Throw someone on a vendor's cart and he will come after you complaining about his ruined produce! And the city is alive well beyond your character. If only BIOWARE could take some lessons for its next BALDUR's GATE...
Adding to this is the wonderful sound! From the crowd murmurs and the NTCs cries for help, to the whistling of the wind and the well-chosen background music, a good sound-card and speakers set is recommended to truly enjoy this game. If you have a 5.1 speaker system (I do not) I can imagine the experience to become even more immersing.
As to the gameplay, you control Altaïr ibn La-Ahad ("The Flying One, Son of None"). He is a member of the Assassin Brotherhood that sides, well, with both...sides, during the 3rd Crusade. In a story twist, he is also your ancestor, the game being your/his flashback memories. This is a twist I could do without, but I would guess it lays groundwork for the sequels.
The Third person perspective works beautifully and will never loose your interest. Most missions require sneaking and murdering in the shadows. Others will have you eavesdropping for passwords or pickpocketing documents to gain access into target buildings. Some will have you sharpen those sword skills. Still, the game does not avoid its share of stupid "keep this...suicidal character from getting killed" missions. Keep in mind though that ASSASSIN's CREED is rather a strategically thinking action TPS, not a hack&slash fast-paced one.
Controlling your character with a keyboard/mouse takes a lot of getting used to as you have to manage running, climbing, fighting as well as modifying your actions from low to high visibility. The keys are remapable but their complexity will never let you forget you are playing a game. Now for some bad news.
These are the official MINIMUM Requirements:
* Pentium D 2.6GHz (YES, Dual Core!) (or AMD equivalent)
* 1GB RAM (WinXP) or 2GB (WinVISTA) (3GB RECOMMENDED!)
* nVidia 6800 (or Shader Model 3.0 compliant or ATI equivalent)
* Dual-Layer DVD-ROM (or BluRay disc)
* 12GB HDD Space (although my install folder was no larger than 7GB)
As one can see, this is worse than CRYSIS! What I cannot get is how on earth ASSASSIN works on only 512MB of RAM of the XBox, yet it is recommended to have...3GB of RAM on a PC! Sure, the extra content is nice but who did the porting, unpaid interns? Has ANY PC optimization been attempted at all?
Keep also in mind that (as with CRYSIS) in order to fully enjoy the game, barely meeting the minimum requirements means you will barely experience the game. I refuse to deal with WinVISTA so, obviously, this review pertains to DirectX-9. The game is also DirectX-10 compatible, something I cannot comment on though. And now for some good news.
UBISOFT has been recently hit with a $5million class-action suit for hardware (OK, "allegedly") damaged by StarForce bundled with its games. Since, they have announced to be abandoning its StarForce partnership - so let's all rejoice: unlike other UBISOFT games, ASSASSIN's CREED does NOT sport StarForce! Instead, a much milder SafeDisc is used.
It is a pity it took litigation to finally listen to their own customers (suing StarForce would make much more sense, but try finding them in Russia!), but let's count our blessings.
So, overall, this is a well made and beautiful, immersing (although quite short) game that needed more work in PC optimization (wher it lost 1 star Overall) and character control (where it lost 1 star for Fun).
As Altair himself would have put it: "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted."
Well, not everything - and certainly NOT StarForce.