Introduction

Most people don't like leftovers. A second round of heating can result in overcooked foods that are dry and/or tough. There's nothing worse than a high-quality filet mignon that's been overcooked. However, not all leftovers are bad, and some foods can even taste better the second time around as flavors are allowed to mix and mingle another night in the refrigerator.

If you'll pardon the terrible analogy, the same can be said of video games that are ported from one system to another. A half-baked port can leave users wondering why the developers even bothered to make the effort. Halo, Halo 2 anyone? But sometimes you get a game that translates well to another platform, and with a few enhancements and upgrades it can even surpass the source material. Perhaps more importantly, plenty of people don't have access to all the various gaming platforms; if someone missed a game on the original platform it might just be worth checking out the ported product.


Today we'll be looking at Assassin's Creed (AC for short) for the PC, a port of a game that launched over six months ago on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Reviews were decidedly mixed on the console version, with some publications declaring it one of the best games of the year and others labeling it as merely okay. As usual, what you actually think of the game will depend a lot on what you're looking for, and there are certain to be users that will love this game and others that will hate it. We'll discuss the gameplay and the pros and cons of the game momentarily.

One of the other interesting tidbits about the PC port of AC is that it's one of the first titles to launch with support for DirectX 10.1... sort of. Version 1.0 does indeed support DirectX 10.1 features, but Ubisoft decided to remove this functionality in the 1.02 patch. Whether it will make a return in the future is unclear, but signs point to "no". Given that we're late to the game in terms of reviewing AC, we are going to spend a decent chunk of this review looking at the technology side of the equation and what it means to gamers.

Basic Plot and Gameplay
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  • bill3 - Monday, June 02, 2008 - link

    Actually it's terrible, I cant read the graphs AT ALL.

    seriously my eyes just glazed over those terrible charts..completely unreadable. I still, have no idea what I'm looking at. Is ATI supposed to be faster in this game? Why did they test with version 1.00 on ATI and 1.2 on Nvidia? I dont know because the graphs are totally useless.
    Reply
  • Nihility - Monday, June 02, 2008 - link

    I second that. The graphs are terrible. Maybe bar graphs would have been better?
    Sometimes when you're the one making the graph it's hard to imagine what other people are seeing when they look at them. I suggest having another pair of eyes check the graphs out for readability.

    Besides that, I loved the review. Especially the performance part and the 10.1 controversy.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, June 03, 2008 - link

    Charts are colored with similar colors used either for ATI vs. NVIDIA, 1.00 vs. 1.02, or dual-GPU vs. single-GPU. I could have generated four times as many graphs to show the same data, but I figure most people are capable of reading the labels on a chart and figuring out what they mean. Here's a hint: when you can't see the difference between two lines because they overlap, it's a tie.

    If you want to give specific examples and recommendations on what would look better and still convey the same amount of information, I'm all ears. However, simply stating that "the graphs are terrible" does little to help. Tell me what graph specifically is terrible, and tell me why it's terrible.

    As an example of why I used these graphs, page 9 has two charts showing 40 total data points. You can get a clear idea of how performance scales with single or dual GPUs at the various detail settings looking at a single chart. Green is NVIDIA, Red is ATI. That makes a lot of sense to me. Creating ten different bar charts with four lines in each to show the same data makes it more difficult to compare how Medium graphics compares to High graphics performance, and it takes up five times as much space to tell the same "story".

    Page 6 is the same thing, but with green used for dual-GPUs (light and dark for 1.00 and 1.02) and red for single GPUs. 24 data points in two charts instead of using six charts. Having established that 1.00 doesn't perform any different than 1.02 on NVIDIA hardware, I skipped the 1.00 NVIDIA numbers to make those charts easier to read on page 7. Then I put in the four standard test system (0xAA and 4xAA, ATI and NVIDIA) on 1.02, with 1.00 4xAA ATI in blue as a reference.

    Lastly, on page 8 I have two clock speeds on NVIDIA, three on ATI, with different base colors for single and dual GPUs. ATI and NVIDIA are in separate charts, and brighter colors are for a higher overclock.

    There's method to my graphing madness. Are the charts immediately clear to a casual glance? No, but then that's really difficult to do while still conveying all of the information. I spent a lot of time trying to make comprehensible charts, and settled on these as the best option I could come up with. Again, if they're so bad, it must be easy to generate something clearly better - have at it, and I'll be happy to use any sensible suggestions. However, if the only complaint is that you actually have to look at the charts and think for a minute before you understand, I'm not likely to be very sympathetic. I think our readers are smart enough to digest these graphs.
    Reply
  • mpjesse - Monday, June 02, 2008 - link

    While I appreciate the detailed review, isn't it a little irrelevant now? I mean, the game's been out for nearly 2 months now and it's been reviewed everywhere. The only thing new about this review are the performance benchmarks, in which case I would have have made the review solely about performance instead of gameplay.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Reply
  • ImmortalZ - Monday, June 02, 2008 - link

    Its sad that the companies with money always manage to suppress innovation.

    I hope this article by AT will raise some ruckus in the collective Interwebs and cause something. But I doubt it.
    Reply
  • ViRGE - Monday, June 02, 2008 - link

    For what it's worth, another forum I read had some screenshots comparing DX10 and DX10.1. The problems the poster had managed to find involved trees; there was some kind of post-processing rendering going on with trees that wasn't occurring with DX10.1, which made them look weird.

    Not fixing 10.1 may be an NVIDIA thing, but there was definitely a problem with it as-is.
    Reply
  • tuteja1986 - Monday, June 02, 2008 - link

    Well why where the hell is nvidia dx10.1 support if dx10.1 actually brings some kind of performance improvement in AA.

    Why aren't GT200 series have DX10.1 ?

    I thought PC gaming was all about being the cutting edge on all technology front...

    Anyways , this is not the 1st time Ubisoft or Nvidia have done this.

    Reply
  • wyemarn - Monday, June 02, 2008 - link

    Maybe because Nvidia GPUs cant support AA through shaders. So no use supporting dx 10.1. ATI GPUs have 320 stream processors so it can utilize for shaders and etc. Nvidia cards have less SPs but more ROPs, TMUs which translates to more brute power if games dont use shaders or SPs much. Technology wise, I think ATI is ahead but NVIDIA GPUs have game developer support and more raw horsepower so performance wise NVIDIA is ahead and I think this trend will continue with GTX200 series. I choosed G92 over RV670 because the raw performance is much better even though on paper HD 3800 series look great. Reply
  • SteelSix - Monday, June 02, 2008 - link

    Worthy of a thread in Video. I just started one.. Reply
  • Gannon - Monday, June 02, 2008 - link

    The original halo had performance issues but they weren't alarming, halo was actually not too bad port compared to many other console to PC disasters. Halo 1 got 'better with hardware' advancing. Halo 2 on the other hand is just all around atrocious. Halo 2 was just not a very well made game, period, despite the addition of cutscenes, etc. Halo 1 had a much better feel and better vehicle design IMHO, I hated how the warthog looked in Halo 2, it annoyed me to no end. Reply

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