Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut

Written by Joe Martin

May 5, 2008 | 08:29

Tags: #altair #assassins-creed #conversion #jade #port #prince-of-persia #raymond #review #reymond

Companies: #ubisoft

Return of The Graphics Analysis

Assassin’s Creed is a game that thrives off of a fluid, dance-like set of animations which beautifully portray the bird-like agility and flexibility of Altair. To really feel and appreciate the beauty of these animations though, you’ll need to make sure that the game itself runs well.

It’d be no good for example to have a game with the most stunning motion capture and fantastically realised animations ever if the game only ran at one frame per second.

Tweaking the two settings on the previous page (which make up about half of the graphical settings available) will allow you to get the most performance possible. The only other settings available to tinker with are Shadows (below) and Post FX, which covers the use of depth of field and motion blur. Post FX is therefore very hard to capture in a screenshot, but trust us when we say you’ll want it on if you can spare the power.

And, if graphical grunt isn’t a concern of yours and you’re confident in the abilities of your uber-rig, then you may want to take a look at DirectX 10 content. We deal with that below.

Shadows

Shadows actually don’t play as large a part in Assassin’s Creed as you might think. In most assassination games like this you’d be darting in and out of the shade, taking shelter in the darkness and losing any pursuers. In Assassin’s Creed though the world is one of perpetual daylight and you’ll instead find yourself losing enemies in large crowds. Take a look below to see how important Shadows are though.

Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Graphics II Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Graphics II Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Graphics II
Shadows on settings 1 (left), 2 (center) and 3 (right), click to enlarge

The effect of the Shadows setting in Assassin’s Creed is fairly obvious. On the lower setting all shadows are disabled. On medium important shadows, such as those immediately around the player are enabled. On the highest setting all objects cast a shadow, though you’ll have to enlarge the last two screens to notice this effect.

These screenshots also make a great excuse to look at the frankly startling inverse kinematics that Assassin’s Creed makes use of – which basically means that Altair moves his hands and feet to the correct places when climbing rather than cycling through an animation. It’s a small effect, but a great one.

DirectX 10.1 Content

Yeah, this one kind of snuck up on you there, didn’t it?

Assassin’s Creed: Director’s Cut bears the distinction of being the first game ever to incorporate DirectX 10.1 content so, even though it isn’t a setting you can just turn on and off, is still worth a look.

Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Graphics II Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Graphics II
DirectX 10.1 disabled (left) and enabled (right), click to enlarge
This enhancement should add extra performance and enhanced anti-aliasing and image quality. This should be handy if you want to enable AA at higher resolutions where, without DX10.1, the setting is disabled and requires some .ini tinkering to get working.

To enable this DirectX 10.1 at the moment then you’ll both Windows Vista (with Service Pack 1) and an ATI Radeon HD 3800 series card. At the moment it’s the only hardware that actually supports DX10.1. To test this setting we switched over the hardware of our gaming rig accordingly.

Unfortunately, even then the effect is less than noticeable in our opinion so, while it’s all very nice if you actually have the hardware, you won’t miss out on a great deal graphically if you aren’t able to enable this, though we did find that there was noticeably better performance with AA enabled. Sadly, even those that can enable DX10.1 content won’t miss out on all that much because Ubisoft has had to remove the DirectX 10.1 content to improve stability if you believe statements coming from the marketing team – whether it’ll return in the future is something we can’t predict.
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