Assassin's Creed Brotherhood 3-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* -
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As you would expect and hope, the year between the release of Brotherhood and its predecessor allowed the developers to improve its graphics in some significant and obvious ways. However, there are also some areas where the graphics have actually appeared to degrade. This is not necessarily surprising though, as both games were developed for the same hardware platform of the consoles. You can only optimize to a point, so improving graphics further requires sacrifices. The question is, did the developers strike a good balance? Largely yes, but some of these sacrifices are very evident.
The first thing someone launching Brotherhood will probably notice is that where the enhancements are does not make much sense. Give it a few minutes and then things are easier to understand and you can really see the effort put into some character models. Fabrics not only appear to have wrinkles, but, when appropriate, are shaded to show how the nap has been disturbed or worn down. A nice touch that is not always apparent.
Hair has also seen some changes, both on the face and on the head. Before facial hair would actually look like chocolate or another brown substance was smeared on the cheeks and around the mouth, but now it has been more carefully applied for a more natural look. The change to head hair though, beyond the occasional increase in complexity, seems less natural to me. Hair has been made partially transparent, so when a hand, for example, is placed behind a woman's neck, you can actually see the hand through the hair. What makes this less than natural though, is the lack of variance to the transparency. In reality, the hair would be thicker in some areas than others, obscuring the hand more. Of course the change is more or less inconsequential, but it is what I thought when I first noticed it in the game.
Textures have probably seen the most obvious changes, as their detail has increased greatly. Not only do we see the wrinkles more clearly than before, but finer details as well, such as embroidered patterns. Environmental textures have also seen improvements in many places, but you can still find some that are stretched and blurred. It is very situational.
Shadows have seen a great improvement. Now they look much more real and are no longer pixelated at the edges. Something has been done to smooth the edges, making them far less jarring to look at.
Animations, especially combat animations, are still well made, though I must admit, I would not be surprised if many of them have simply not changed since the previous game. Of course, as you are playing as the same Assassin, it makes sense that his moves would not have changed much. There are some new combat animations though, as there are new weapons to wield, including heavy weapons you need a special pouch to carry.
Remember how I mentioned balancing graphics earlier? Well, fluids would seem to be one of the elements that have had some sacrifice. Falling water (which I do not believe was in the previous game) is a simplistic animated texture, which looks completely un-alive. Brotherhood features two kinds of fire: one that is for flames and another that is for explosions. The explosions looks to be little more than a bright volume combined with some particles, and a smoke texture behind it all. It works for explosions, but this is similar to what we saw in the original Assassin's Creed game, which was released three years prior. The flames look to be animated textures, though with some nice blurring that make them look more three dimensional. It is not horrible looking, but considering how slow they move and their transparency, they look very unrealistic. Fire in the previous game, though not great, I would say was better.
- Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
- Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
- GPU: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
- PhysX: MSI GTS 250 1 GB
- Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
- OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit
At the highest settings I did notice the original stuttering, but it was somewhat inconsistent, which makes me think it was caused by less-than-great optimization. At one point I noticed the framerate smoothed out immediately after fast traveling, but eventually the stutter returned, so I suspect memory management is an issue. Not a great issue though. The performance was never so bad as to lessen the experience. Indeed I would say the framerate never dropped below fifty five, if it dropped that low at all. Still, the stuttering was present and apparent to me.
There is some pop-in of the more detailed models, but it is not too bad. There is also some fade-in, which is a little weird, but it does make sense, as details, such as vines on walls, would not just appear to you. As you approach, you would gradually be able to resolve them. Occasionally I did notice characters popping in, including enemies, but I never stayed around to watch how they behaved. The only times I can remember this happening was when I was running from other enemies.
Like the previous game, at times my mouse started acting up. Movements would become very jerky, and while increasing the DPI setting helped, there was still some jerkiness. This came and went during play sessions though, so I am not sure what was causing it. Unlike the previous game, Brotherhood had no issue with my GPU overclock. In both earlier games, the driver would crash eventually if there was an overclock.
Three years after release, Brotherhood still looks good, but does show some age. Ironically this age, I believe, is the age of the console hardware it was developed for, and not the game itself.