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Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Edition • Page 2

Altair of this pun eventually.

With the information gathered and your mini-map sights set on the local mark, you then have to try and get close to them, which provokes a big in-game cut-scene where you shuffle, losing camera focus, through a nearby crowd. After which you strike. Except it's rarely that simple, especially if you want to kill without attracting attention, which is virtually impossible.

One man hides in a ship, another needs to be killed during a public execution, while another still is berating his troops in the depths of a massive fortress, which in any other game would be a level in itself - so epic is the scale and precise the attention to detail. Then you have to escape back to the bureau until the heat is off. In Assassin's Creed, getting the Crusader Feds off your back involves breaking the line of sight and then concealing yourself - on a bench among innocents, in a hay bale, or perhaps in one of the ubiquitous rooftop shacks.

Beyond all that, you can make your own fun, hunting down Templar Knights and collectible flags around the three cities, your home town of Masyaf or the giant Kingdom area that acts as a hub to the other locations. The absence of "Games for Windows - Live" features means no unlockable, 360-style Achievements for doing so, but, on the bright side, there's the absence of "Games for Windows - Live" to celebrate.

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Rooftop Race Challenges help vary the investigation process.

As to performance, AC/PC certainly murders your processor - with our 2.4GHz Intel Core2Duo system, equipped with 2GB RAM and a 320MB GeForce 8800 GTS, coping fine with the early Solomon's Temple and Masyaf sections but struggling to pelt 60 frames at our eyes every second in other areas. The Kingdom, in particular, fought hard with our PC's innards, and the innards were losing, as galloping through the sprawling hills and villages became a canter and then an unplanned trot.

Then again, we were playing at 1920x1080 - something neither the PS3 nor 360 versions did - and it was perfectly playable and looked delicious throughout, offering plenty of pixel headroom for environments like the sumptuous Damascus, with its vast draw distance, to expand into. Staring down from the tops of towers or peering into the city from the cliffside road that winds down to it, it was hard not to pause for a screen-grab.

Those worried that Vista and DirectX 10 will be a necessity needn't be - the game looks stunning on DX9 hardware running under XP, with a v-sync lock option to help avoid tearing, and seems to be occupying 6.6GB of hard disk space for those wondering. What's more, a few frame-rate issues aside, our seemingly finished code was extremely stable.

Which is good news for PC gamers who have been sticking their fingers in their ears for five months and humming loudly. Assassin's Creed had and has its problems, but it was still a fascinating experience, with brilliantly violent execution moves in sword combat, a real atmosphere and sense of place and enough content to fill a good few evenings.

With the added variety of a few new mission types, the boosted resolution of a fancy graphics card, and a PC starting price of around GBP 25, it will be worth looking again even if the launch reviews put you off way back in November. After all, it was always a question of how much fun you'd have, rather than whether you would have any, and this Director's Cut seems to have been sharpened sensibly.

Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Edition is due out on PC on 11th April.

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