Assassin's Creed 6-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - October 29, 2013
» Discuss this article (2)
At six years old, and as a console port, you cannot expect the greatest graphics, but you know something, they are still pretty good. Of course there are plenty of modern games that look much better, but then there are also plenty of six-year-old games that have not aged nearly as well.
As the game uses a third-person perspective most of the time, the camera is typically behind and above the character model of Altaïr. At this angle you can definitely see the edges of the character model, but also at that distance the textures give the model a lot of detail. Wrinkles, folds, and shadows are all within the textures, and possibly some normal mapping, but unless you move the camera to see the flat polygons, you will probably not notice this much. At least when the model is standing still. When you move you may notice Altaïr clipping through his robes, and his robes not behaving like fabric. This is because the robes do not possess many joints to bend at, which is somewhat understandable, so sections of the fabric move as one. For some reason the floor-length robes on many NPCs will protrude at their base on the left side. Not sure why this is, because it does not look realistic at all, but it is somewhat common in the game.
Animations are somewhat mixed. Facial animations work but are not particularly good looking. Attack animations, though, can be very satisfying. For example, one used for counter-attacks involves Altaïr spinning around an enemy and breaking his arm before striking the finishing blow. While the camera does zoom in close enough to see the imperfect textures and models during these animations, they have been crafted so well that you want to zoom in, to see the action. Combined with the sound effects, you know when you have scored a fatal blow.
As I tend to do, I took a close look at the fire in the game. Admittedly I believe there is only one fire in the entire game, but still, fire is a difficult fluid to render, which makes it very interesting to see how the developers approached it. In Assassin's Creed fire is a volume of bright blur, which looks okay. It does not have any actual flames to it, but it does appear to actually engulf its fuel, sort of. The fact is the volume is just being rendered on top of other elements as a special effect. New objects entering the fire do not disturb it, nor are disturbed by it, but it still does not look that bad. Better than the basic animated-texture fire you can find in some games.
Performance time, so for that, here are my specs:
- 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
The performance was consistently at or near 60 FPS at the maximum settings. I did notice some stuttering, possibly due to less-than-great optimization, but it was never that severe. I also noticed that the game seemed to crash the drivers when I had my GPU overclocked. Removed the OC and the game ran without noteworthy incident. (Yeah, there was a crash or two, but I was running the latest beta drivers at the time, so I am not going to hold the game accountable for them.)
As you traverse the cities and kingdoms of Assassin's Creed you will almost certainly notice the pop-in of textures and even NPCs. (Honestly, I once had an enemy appear a few feet in front of me, but fortunately he did not attack me as I ran by.) There is nothing you can do about this, and generally it is not severe enough to really be noticeable. If you are the kind of person that does notice things like that though, you will notice it here. More obvious is the limited detail distance, especially on shadows. In some of the screenshots in this review you may notice shadows suddenly dropping in resolution not too far from your character. Of course you may also notice that shadows are not always being cast, but there is nothing you can do about it. At the time the developers may not have been able to do anything about it either, due to the limited capabilities of the hardware and game engine.
Worth noting is that to achieve the maximum settings, I had to do a little bit of file editing. The MSAA option is not accessible in-game at all resolutions, and definitely not at my monitor's 2048x1152 resolution. To enable anti-aliasing, I had to open the file and manually change the setting. You can find guides on how to do this online, and once you know what to do, all you need is a basic text editor.
Two things that I feel should be shared are that the game has no subtitles and the cinematics cannot be skipped. With how much of the story is conveyed in the cinematics, it is understandable that you cannot skip the cinematics, though the option would have been appreciated for additional playthroughs. The lack of subtitles I have no guess-explanation for. The option simply does not exist.
Assassin's Creed is not going to win any beauty contests compared to today's games, but it impresses for a six-year-old game. Once the action gets going, you will probably forget its age and just enjoy the fairly detailed experience.