Assassin’s Creed II, one of last year’s best action-adventure titles, finally hits PCs months after its console release. PC gamers finally get to find out what happens after the cryptic ending of the first game, and embark on a brand new career as an assassin against the gorgeous backdrop of the Italian renaissance. The story and gameplay largely remains the same as the console version, which we’ve already reviewed earlier (and liked a lot), so this particular review will only focus on the PC-specific changes; mainly Ubisoft’s notorious new DRM.
[singlepic id=1684 w=450 float=center]
The new DRM policy requires you to be online and signed in to Ubisoft’s portal at all times while you play the game. This is made clear on the game’s packaging itself. So if you do not have your PC connected to a stable high-speed internet connection, I suggest you steer clear of this game and probably any Ubisoft game in the future. While I personally did not face any major issues while playing the game on my 2 mbps broadband connection, I cannot expect everyone else’s experience to be the same. If you do not have uninterrupted access to the internet or prefer gaming on-the-go on your laptop, then this new policy feels simply too restrictive, especially when the game in question is a single player affair with no internet enabled content whatsoever. At least the game saves itself every time you lose connectivity before shutting itself down. In the end, your enjoyment of Assassin’s Creed II boils down to how good your internet connection is and how well Ubisoft’s portal behaves.
The first Assassin’s Creed game came to the PC almost four months after the console versions and, as expected, came with significant improvements, most noticeably in its visuals. However, despite the delay in the PC version, do not go into Assassin’s Creed II with similar expectations. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still a very good looking game, but the visuals aren’t dramatically different compared to its console counterparts. The lighting and character models are the biggest culprits here, especially during some of the story cutscenes. Character models (apart from Ezio) look blocky and outdated, and the texture work in some places is shoddy.
[singlepic id=1687 w=450 float=center]
Overall, the jump in the visual quality is simply not the same as the previous game and it’s a little disappointing. On the upside, the game runs quite well with almost everything maxed even on a mid-range system. It’s also worth mentioning that the game is best played with a controller (preferably the Xbox 360 controller for Windows). While it’s quite playable with a keyboard and mouse, the context-sensitive control system coupled with the heavy platforming and hack-n-slash style combat make it feel far more natural with a controller.
One of the good things about the PC version is that it includes the two downloadable episodes – The Battle of Forli and Bonfire of the Vanities, out of the box. These were left out of the console version due to time constraints and later offered as downloadable content; for a price, of course. Both are pretty decent and add considerable value to the overall package, making it feel like a more complete experience compared to the console versions. You can read our reviews for these two episodes here and here.
[singlepic id=1690 w=450 float=center]
If you don’t game on the console and haven’t played the game before, I strongly recommend picking up Assassin’s Creed II for the PC. Yes, Ubisoft’s new DRM is a pain, but it’s a pain PC gamers will have to learn to get used to. But taken on its own merit, Assassin’s Creed II is a highly enjoyable action-adventure title that improves on its predecessor in every possible way and offers many solid hours of fun.
(+) Underneath the DRM, there is a very enjoyable game
(+) DLC episodes are included in the retail package
(-) Requires you to be online at all times
(-) No significant visual upgrades over console version
Title: Assassin’s Creed 2
Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Platforms: PC (Rs 999)
Reviewed on: PC