That’s a nice ruffled shirt, but mine looks even more realistic.
Developers have pushed the hardware of last-generation consoles to the limit. Exhibit A: Assassin’s Creed III
. A month ago Ubisoft delivered an absolutely stunning representation of 18th century America, but not all was perfect. Aging hardware, rough shadows, and wild framerate drops kept it from being the graphical firework of 2012. But this is exactly the kind of situation that gaming PCs live for—
an opportunity to show what modern hardware and technology is all about. Does Assassin’s Creed III
on the PC do the game justice?
This review is based solely on the adjustments and additions found in the PC version of Assassin’s Creed III. For a full write-up focused on the gameplay, content, and plot aspects of the title, be sure to check out Daniel Bischoff’s detailed review.
The fast-paced gameplay experience of Assassin’s Creed III
for PC isn’t a radical departure from the other versions. Sure, you can decide between playing with a mouse and keyboard or utilizing a gamepad of your choosing, but everything else has gone completely untouched. Guiding Connor, the protagonist, through Boston’s tight alleys and dense population with a mouse is surprisingly effective, so you might not be as quick to plug in a controller as with other action-adventure titles.
The first thing you’re likely to do after watching the introduction is tweak your graphical settings, but you’ll quickly find that there isn’t much to toy around with. You can change the environment, texture, anti-aliasing, and shadow quality, but important values such as field of view are locked. That’s four more than the console versions had, but it leaves very little room for adjustment on PCs that aren’t up to snuff.
Thankfully, it’s easy to forget about the limited settings after you see how gorgeous the game looks. Higher anti-aliasing multipliers wipe almost all existence of jagged edges from the screen. Shaders and shadows are enriched with fine detail and create photo-like contrasts. From the bustling of citizens roaming the city streets to ships docked on the cold waters of the Atlantic, this is hands-down the best virtual representation of the period that the world has ever seen.
What sets the PC version apart from its close console relatives is its use of tessellation, ambient occlusion, and high-resolution textures. When playing on high, the density and characteristics of environmental objects are extremely lifelike. Never has it been more fun to run around in the snow, and you might find yourself slowly walking through the frontier admiring subtle details. Texture fidelity at higher settings is around quadruple what was seen in the other versions, and that makes itself abundantly clear during the game’s eye-popping cutscenes that drive its narrative.
However, toasters and calculators need not apply. Assassin’s Creed III
on PC devours every bit of juice your rig can muster. The game tends to ignore some of your GPU’s bandwidth in an effort to make your CPU show what it's capable of. The game is particularly heavy on the first core and doesn’t do well in spreading load across multiple threads. Unsurprisingly, Intel has an edge in performance with even the higher-end AMD CPUs struggling on higher settings.
There are a few additional challenges for those who seek the safe-haven of the modern PC. For one, Boston—one of the game’s major areas—has the same framerate problems that affected the other versions. You can expect your FPS to drop near your baseline whenever in the city, especially when navigating its complex roof structures. You might also encounter some driver issues such as snow flickering. But don’t fret—these issues have been noted publically by Ubisoft and a patch is on the way.
The PC version of Assassin’s Creed III
has been injected with eye-popping enhancements that bring its compelling story to life. It’s like personally participating in the American Revolution without the consequences of death. The ticket price of traveling back to the fascinating period of America’s battle for independence, and the fictional story that Ubisoft Montpellier has layered within it, is just a copy of Assassin’s Creed III
and a high-end PC. Just remember that you’ll have to leave your social life behind.
Copy provided by publisher.