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Let’s Play Assassins Creed II:
(Part 1 of 1)

By Shamus
on Monday Apr 26, 2010
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning



Since the Assassin’s Creed 2 DRM is now truly broken, I thought it would be nice to “celebrate” by giving the game a try. Susan Arendt said in her review that, “You’ll find a lot to love, I promise. Assassin’s Creed 2 is the best kind of sequel.” Wired calls it, “The ultimate killer app.” Yahtzee didn’t threaten to sodomize the developers or eat their young, which is pretty high praise from him. In fact, I haven’t found any negative reviews of the game at all.

Of course, all of those reviews were talking about the console versions. Let’s see how the PC version holds up. I have a review copy here and it’s about time I fired it up and saw what all the fuss was about.

First step is agreeing to the EULA:


Once done, the game connects to Ubisoft, downloads a patch, applies it, restarts itself, and then gives me the EULA again:


So, thanks for that guys. You know, that wasn’t exactly a gripping narrative when I read it two minutes ago. But whatever. I agree already. Yes, you can have my firstborn and all my rights and fair use doesn’t exist and you are awesome and the world is just as you say it is. Okay?

Now run the damn software.

Oops. Looks like the launcher itself needs to update… itself.


Once the launcher is re-launched:


Ah. A login screen. We knew this was coming, didn’t we? This single-player game pretends it’s an MMO in the same way that a car plummeting into a ravine might briefly pretend it’s an airplane. I don’t have an Ubi account. So, let’s fill out this paperwork.


Okay. Name. Email. Birthday. (Really? Are you guys going to send me a present?) Password. Done.


Terms of service. Mostly for the forums and other stuff I’ll never, ever use. I hit the “accept” button, but secretly I don’t really accept any of these terms in my heart of hearts. The software is unable to detect my duplicity. However:


How annoying. You know just yesterday I signed up for a Livestream account. It was able to tell me if my chosen name was taken, live, as I typed it in. It let me know if the confirmation fields were ok without me needing to hit the “submit” button first. This functionality took place within the context of a webpage.

Fine. I’ll try a different name.


Ah! Didn’t I just agree to this?


Thanks. You guys are super.

Okay, enough screwing around. Let’s get on the assassin’s murderbus to stabbytown.


Oh. Okay. So now I have to register the game. Right. Let me just look up my 19-digit keycode. Thankfully I can copy & paste this. This is one case where digital is superior to having a hardcopy. It’s always a pain when they print the key using the “Dot Matrix Indecipherable” font in faded ink and you can’t tell the ones from the I’s or the zeroes from the O’s.


When you launch the game, the updater runs for a second and checks for updates. Then it blinks away and this little window appears with a spinning “please wait” symbol. Then that thing vanishes and the login program shows up. Then the thing counts down from three and launches the game. So that’s an interesting little software contraption they’ve built.

Snark aside, the game is fine. I don’t know that I’ll do a proper review series of it. We’ll see if I have anything novel to say after a few hours with it. The game is purportedly dynamite on the console, but you should take a look at the shots above and ask yourself if this is how you want to be treated for your $50.

In any case, I just thought I’d provide a snapshot of how the system “works”.

Comments (169)

  1. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Just download the crack.

    I am not a regular pirate. But in that case, I heard the crack makes the game a lot more playable and enjoyable.

    And.. well, I’d like to know how good the game is. As it was made in Montreal, I am curious what the talent pool located in my city have been able to create.

    Also, Ubisoft receive a lot of government subsidies, so I wanna know if they aren’t throwing away my tax money.

    • Volatar says:

      Sadly, they would probably come after him if he did that.

      Plus, we want to see how their servers connection holds up for Shamus. If he gets disconnected while playing and keeps losing progress… hehehe…

      • Jaz says:

        Yeah, I really should feel guilty for being glued to this man’s blog in case he ever gets even a little bit annoyed because of how funny it is.

        But I, uh, don’t.

        • VADER says:

          i HAVE IT ON ps3, so i know nothing of the PC version, but my game is amazing. I would give it a 9.9/10, because i occasionly kill citizens accidently, and that makes me desynchronize (start from right before i killed said person.)

          • Hatebastard says:

            I am a pirate, and it’s DRM like this that makes me one, I don’t want to fuck with endless screens of logins and advertisements, I just want to play the damned game, and stealing it is easier than bothering with all your retarded software protection, they want to sell more games? find a good way to encrypt the game in the background so I don’t have to bother with this claptrap and start making games that take longer to beat than it takes me to finish a 2 liter of coke.

    • Atarlost says:

      Hang on. Subsidized?!? The Canadian government is paying them to come up with this crap?

      I always considered our neighbor to the north non-hostile, but I’m starting to wonder.

      • SolkaTruesilver says:

        Quebec government. Please, learn the difference :)

        However, I’d like to know what you define as “crap”. Is it the DRM and the thousand registration policy? Because I think this is the responsibility of the publisher, not the developper. And the publisher is the Ubisoft branch located in France, methink.

        The game itself, the writing, the art, etc.. has been designed in Montreal.

        So.. this is why I care about the game’s quality :D

  2. KremlinLaptop says:

    Welcome to the woo-oorld of tomorrow!

    Now please agree to this EULA. Also this one. And if you could just sign in here please, signature there thanks…

    (Sometimes the future sucks).

  3. Hal says:

    This is a fairly similar process for most PC games these days, isn’t it? You install your game. You input your key/code to prove you aren’t a thief. You install an update. You update the updater. You update the game (possibly several times, depending on how late into the game’s life you are). NOW you can play the game.

    I remember installing WoW the first time on my computer; it was at least an hour before all of the updates had even made their way to my PC.

    • Merle says:

      That’s quite true.
      However, unlike Assassin’s Creed, World of Warcraft is an MMO.

      This is an important distinction.

    • Nyaz says:

      What? Only an hour? It took me at least three hours, but then again my connection isn’t the best and there were a LOT of updates.
      Plus you manually needed to restart the game like five times (uuurrgh)

      Stupid WoW. Also, this isn’t WoW.

      • Pickly says:

        It sometimes took quite a lot of time for me as well when downloading WoW.

        The thing that sticks out as similar to the above post, though, was the series of several updates, agree to EULA, agree to some other EULa like thing (I forget exactly what it was), patch, agree, agree, download something else, etc. (I forget the exact number of times, perhaps 3-4), before the game was finally loaded.

        • Nyaz says:

          Agreed. God forbid there would be a button that says “Download ALL updates and install them while I go out for a walk or something and don’t ask for manual control, thank you very much” (Okay, maybe we’ll have to shorten that down a wee bit)

    • Hal says:

      Okay, yes, this isn’t WoW. I was using an extreme case just as an example.

      Would Steam suffice as an example? Lord knows that thing spends more time updating and installing than I do actually playing anything on it.

      • Mari says:

        Perhaps I have a more apt comparison. Sims 3. It’s a single player game. It took me around an hour and a half to install the game itself. Then last week for my birthday I got the two upgrade packs via Impulse.

        Installing them required four different EULAs. I had to install a new installer, a new launcher which also required that I install Adobe AIR, enter three CD keys (because my original game wasn’t via Impulse so I had to “register” it with them before they were willing to take my word that I hadn’t stolen my copy), install something like six different updates in a specific order, reboot my computer twice. All for the things to not install properly the first time because something went wrong way back up in the Adobe AIR install but it didn’t stop the process, just broke it.

        So yeah, it took me two days of agreeing to EULAs and installing BS to get two upgrades to a game I hadn’t played since a week after I got it. And one of the “upgrades” was FURNITURE.

    • Bryan says:

      Lucky you. I had to wait 12 hours. :-(

  4. Zeta Kai says:

    I hate to advocate piracy, unlike the commenter above. I am an artist-by-hobby, & I support artists’ rights. I am against copyright infringement & piracy, even in America’s corporate “the artist is just a fungible cog in our money-making machine” system. However…

    This kind of DRM is EXACTLY why people flock to piracy, & rally around the pirates. The executives at Ubisoft, EA, et al have surely seen Star Wars. If we were to analogize their stuggle against the pirates, who do you think would play the Evil Empire? I doubt that John Riccitiello is playing our plucky farmboy with psychic potential. The gaming companies are each spending millions of dollars every year to be on the wrong side of history. They abuse their customer base on the assumption that they are all guilty until proven innocent, make ludicrous demands of them, & then send faulty patch-starved products out the door. The enitre industry is propped up by subsidized hype-machines (IE the gaming rags), which generate sales through hyperbolic buzz in a recursive cycle of sound & fury.

    This model is obviously unsustainable. If we aren’t careful, the industry could face another crash, like it did in 1983. When games become Serious Business, who will play them if they’re not fun anymore?

    • Johannes says:

      There’s something else, which is pointed out in this Slashdot comment: all this fidgeting with EULA’s and whatnot erodes respect for the law. I find this a very interesting line of reasoning – and especially in this day and age, now that everything is commercialized, easy accessible, and in a number of cases almost free compared to back when it cost plenty more/wasn’t as easily available, should it come as a surprise that people think stuff should be free? OK, we’ve heard that line of reasoning before… But on the other hand certain organizations are trying to push back violations of copyright etc. quite firmly… This juggling with moral values makes it impossible for people to truly appreciate the value of things.

      • MichaelG says:

        Even more annoying is the fact that you have no idea what legal rights you really have (or lose) when you sign these things.

        I was involved in a real estate contract back a few years ago, and it turned out that lawyers don’t actually read (or write) English the same way as the rest of us. A sentence that guaranteed me something in plain English turned out not to mean anything in bizarro legal world.

        So screw them and their EULAs.

      • Felblood says:

        The biggest problem with EULAs is, the vast majority of the statements you’re agreeing to are not binding, and several of them are false. Many of the items in the EULAs are basically lies that the publisher has put in there in hopes that you don’t realize that they can’t actually hold you to that part.


        How much weight does an agreement made under such a pretense carry? It’s nothing but empty words.

        You are swearing an oath that you know to be partly false, and at least partly unenforceable. How can they expect a person to think of this as an agreement worth honoring? You’ve made yourself an oath breaker, just by doing business with these filth, and now they expect you to deal fairly by them? It’s insanity.


    I guess they weren’t expecting women to play this game? It’s lovely to know that even legalese defaults to the male pronoun.

    Feminism notwithstanding, that’s an awful lot of EULA’s to suffer through for a single player game. Blah.


    • Ace Calhoon says:

      Because ambiguous pronouns (“their”/”they”) and wordy constructs like he/she or s/he would make legalese *so* much better.

      Some of my D&D books use the feminine pronoun in various sections. It isn’t like I said to myself “Gee Wizards, I guess you didn’t expect a guy to play D&D!”

      • KremlinLaptop says:

        I hate it when documents try to be all inclusive and put ‘their/they’ to use, it usually takes about a paragraph worth of use before it becomes clunky beyond belief and makes reading anything written like that incredibly irritating to read.

        I’ve noticed a lot of RPG books use the feminine pronoun instead of the male. Is there some particular reason for that? I actually enjoyed it when I was wee and still learning English, since the original language settings I was shipped with are gender-neutral and dealing with she/her was for some reason easier than the male equivalent.

        • eri says:

          You probably just notice the use of feminine pronouns more often because of how rare their use is. Even within a text that uses them, I doubt you’d see a 50/50 split… if you did, it’d likely seem like a lot more.

          That said, a lot of fantasy authors are actually female, and it is possible that many who contribute to D&D manuals and the like are female as well.

          • Jeysie says:

            Can’t speak for other RPGs, but in 3.5 D&D, the use of pronoun generally was based on either which of the “iconic characters” was the icon for the chapter (the characters’ genders split more or less 50-50), or simply alternating/50-50 usage.

        • In the early-to-mid ’90s the RPG industry, being the insular place that it is, got wracked by the hyper-politically correct movement to rewrite the rules of pronoun usage in the English language (and presumably change history to herstory). Thus you see a much higher occurence of this kind of pseudo-feminist clap-trap in RPG books.

          In the case of D&D 3.5, the idea was that the pronoun usage should match the iconic character of the class being described. This, of course, sucked. Like all inconsistent use of English sucks.

          They/their has been used as a gender-neutral pronoun for 400+ years in English. Grammarians have frowned on it for pretty much the entire time. But its common usage and becoming more common every day. It’s not quite the slam dunk that split infinitives are (which weren’t declared ungrammatical until the mid-20th century), but everybody should tell Elements of Style to stick it and move on rather than twisting the English language into contortions.

          • Adam says:

            3.0 was even weirder. As I recall, the pronouns alternated from paragraph to paragraph.

            • Jimmy says:

              I remember in 2nd edition there was actually a disclaimer that the writers of the PHB were just going to use the male pronoun as their generic choice. Exalted leans heavily toward using the female the same way, but isn’t exactly consistent.

              The fact that anyone cared enough about it to write a damned disclaimer bugs me.

          • Soylent Dave says:

            ‘his’ has been used as a gender neutral pronoun in English for even longer, with the added bonus that it’s both grammatically elegant and describes an individual rather than a group.

            It’s usually quite apparent when a pronoun is intended to be male and when it’s intended to be indeterminate (likewise when authors have decided to use the female pronoun as standard instead – as long as there is consistency within the text it doesn’t really matter which).

            Using ‘they’ for an individual is just as clunky and pointless as writing ‘his/her’ all the time (and is also just as pseudo-feminist; it does bugger all for equal rights).

    • Simulated Knave says:

      English doesn’t actually have a gender-neutral pronoun. ‘They’ is the best we’ve got, and it isn’t really supposed to be used that way.

      Using it in a legal document would open you up to all kinds of problems. Of course, EULA’s aren’t enforceable anyway.

      • Deoxy says:

        “He” WAS the gender-neutral pronoun until the feminists messed with it. Now we don’t have one at all.

        Which is unbelievably stupid.

        My personal favorite was the Congresscritter who actually proposed, on the actual record of the United States Congress (or maybe Senate? think it was congress) the usage of “he or she or it”, but as a contraction…


        Which describes the situation pretty well, actually. You don’t like the word we use for some concept that is used everyday by every single person on the whole planet? OK, propose an alternative, you brainless hate-mongers! Simply banishing the word without giving us something to use instead just gives everyone a constant reminder of what psychotic idiots you are.

        • Antwon says:

          It’s not like there haven’t been gender-neutral pronouns proposed, often by the same folks who care about ending the use of “he” in that sort of capacity. Do enough reading on the right flavors of forum and you’ll run across text peppered with it – “xe laughed as xe sent xem a text message”, that sort of thing. Getting the terms adopted by anything but a thin sliver of the English-speaking population is the emphatically harder part. (With cause, in my opinion, as the newly-minted pronouns always sound stilted as hell to me. I just use singular-person-them just about everywhere, which achieves the same ends but sounds way more natural.)

          • Felblood says:

            They could start by contriving one that can be pronounced phonetically.

            “Xe” is worthless outside of a text medium, because you’d spend more time arguing about how to pronounce it than on the inevitable idiocy over sexism in pronouns.

            Honestly, back when they were campaigning to use “she” instead of “it” for women, I could understand, but this is just silly.

            Propose a good alternative, and people will come around naturally; force a bad one on them, and they’ll be poisoned against the good one.

    • JKjoker says:

      i really dont understand how defaulting to the female pronoun is any better than defaulting to the male pronoun, you are choosing one either way

      if its really about gender equality then create a genderless pronoun, switching the male to the female seems more like you are switching a form of discrimination for another because the other side is less outspoken

    • Joe Cool says:

      In standard English, the words “he”, “his”, “man”, etc. can refer to a person of either sex, unless otherwise demanded by context.

    • Daf says:

      I like how Wizards (of the Coast) specifically use “his or her” when referring to Magic (the Gathering) players on our cards.
      Even though they are often pressed for room – they only have so much space to cram in all the text – they still make the room to be mindful of who is playing their game. :)

  6. Facus says:

    Wonder how long it will be until you have to have a co-signer and a background check done before you can play your game.

  7. Phase says:

    Valve have the right idea with Steamworks. A system of DRM that’s actually more convenient for people who buy the game over pirates? How novel!

    • Volatar says:

      Thats exactly why I keep buying games on steam, even if I already played through the game!

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      Honestly, if anything is going to ‘save’ gaming on the PC (people do insist it’s dying) I think it’ll be Steam. Valve has managed to make a content delivery and DRM system that I’m willing to use, because it’s convenient and enjoyable.

      It’s this weird thing, where if you make something good enough, easy enough, simple enough then people will be more and more willing to compromise on the matter and use your way of doing things. Valve obviously realized this.

      Yes, Steam has a list of drawbacks — it’s not perfect, and will never be perfect for everyone; but it works. The thing is for a lot of people — myself included — the benefits now outweigh the drawbacks.

      The Ubisoft system here offers absolutely nothing for the user except hassle.

      • Merle says:

        Not to mention that Steam doesn’t lock you out of your own games if you can’t connect to the Internet.

        Actually, I probably should mention that. It’s fairly important.

        • KremlinLaptop says:

          True enough. Though in fairness early on the ‘Offline Mode’ in Steam was one of the biggest issues and frustrating beyond belief.

        • JKjoker says:

          as far as im aware you need to be online to switch to offline mode, so if you lose internet connection unexpectedly you ARE locked out of your games, am i wrong ?

          • Shamus says:

            I tested this a while ago and was able to Start steam in offline mode. But I’ve gotten reports where this didn’t work, and I had the same thing happen to me a few years ago.

            I think it USUALLY works, but occasionally fails for mysterious reasons.

          • pkt-zer0 says:

            I’ve “unexpectedly” ripped out the net cable even mid-game, it didn’t make any sort of difference. The idea would be that you need to be online with your computer once (like when you download the game, seeing how this is a digital distribution platform), and you should be able to play offline on that computer forever and ever. So far that has been the case for me, though I’m online most of the time.

            I do have cracks on hand, just in case.

            • Tesh says:

              That’s the idea, but it doesn’t work for me. I can’t start in Offline Mode if I’m actually offline. It’s been a source of frustration for a long time now. Tizzy’s right; updates trump everything, and it blows up the system.

              That’s why I love to get games from Good Old Games; no DRM, no stupid client, just games.

          • Tizzy says:

            I think you may be wrong on that one, although Steam may well have changed since I last tried.

            What *did* happen to me once though is losing connection and being unable to play any of my games even offline because all of them needed updates. The update trumps anything else, and is done in parallel for all your games, so once the games had been flagged as needing update, I couldn’t play any.

            (although iirc, you can opt for manual updates only.)

          • Jarenth says:

            My experience with this kind of thing:

            If I’m playing a Steam game on PC A, and meanwhile I log in on my Steam account on PC B (or ‘Laptop’ as I call it), PC A will give me a popup stating that my Steam is disconnected and I need to reconnect. If I don’t, I get a second popup saying Steam is trying to shut ifself down, but it can’t because I have a Steam game running, and would I kindly shut down this game so Steam can disable itself? And after that, nothing. The game just keeps running.

            I haven’t tested it yet, but I reckon similar things will happen if you go offline unexpectedly.

      • Nyaz says:

        Not to mention when Steam offers you massive discounts on games when you least expect it. (“What? 50% off Bioshock? DEAL!”)

        Or the Xmas special where new deals popped up every day. Hoo boy!

        • KremlinLaptop says:

          Oh man, the deals on Steam are awesome. Also last Christmas? I all at once wasted and saved so friggin’ much money on Steam it’s not even funny…

          Valve you clever bastards.

        • Mari says:

          OMGzors, that last Christmas special was INSANE! Both the hubs and I spent waaaay too much money in piddling amounts on game deals. Still haven’t played several of them but come October when nothing good is out yet for the latest round of holiday release insanity guess who’s going to be sitting pretty with loads of great stuff to play?

  8. RTBones says:

    In a word: odious.

    I realize that security is, by definition, not user friendly, but this is insane – and sad, really. Everything I’ve read says its a great game.

    They won’t, however, be getting my money until a less Draconian DRM scheme is patched into the game (and I dont mean a pirate crack – I mean Ubi getting off their high horse and treating their legitimate customers like, well, legitimate customers).

    • Nathon says:

      That’s my approach too. I’m perfectly willing to pay money for things, as long as I’m actually getting the things I pay for. All this talk of the draconian DRM creating more pirates ignores the fact that it’s creating people who will never play their (by all accounts) very fun game. Not only are they not gaining enthusiasts for this game, but they’re losing preorders on future games. For example, when WarCraft 3 came out, I didn’t hesitate to buy it on the assumption that it would be as much fun to play as StarCraft and the previous WarCrafts and Diablo 2, because it came from Blizzard and their games are fun. If companies like Ubi somehow become enlightened and start offering games I’m willing to buy, I still may wait until they’re in the bargain bin because I don’t have a long history of playing and enjoying their games.

      (This is not a Blizzard ad; I’m unhappy about being unable to buy SC2.)

    • krellen says:

      As a security professional (I wear a lot of hats at work), my job is not to make things secure. A monkey can make a system secure. Security is easy. No one would be able to use that secure system, however.

      As a security professional, my job is to create a delicate balance between usability and security.

      Should the balance fall too far towards usability, you create security holes that can be exploited. Should the balance fall too far towards security, you get nonsense like this – and nonsense like this causes users to work out systems to circumvent security to get to the functions they actually need access to (writing down passwords is the most common of these in work settings, while downloading cracks is the most common of these in game settings), which creates security holes that can be exploited.

      Only in the delicate balance where security is friendly enough to not be a huge hassle do you achieve the desired goal of a system that keeps things secure while allowing people to get what they need out of it.

  9. Danath says:

    I bought the game… and used the crack specifically because I did not give a shit about the hassle :/

  10. LOLdependent says:

    That’s what I like to see on this site:)
    Good job, you’ve made my day less darker:)

  11. Nick Bell says:

    “The game is purportedly dynamite on the console, but you should take a look at the shots above and ask yourself if this is how you want to be treated for your $50”

    Sixty. Treated for your $60. The retail price of the PC version of AS2 is $60. So not only do you get all this wonderful annoyance, you get it without the standard PC discount.

  12. Clint Olson says:

    Just out of curiosity, is that your real birthday in the screenshot there, Shamus?

  13. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Again, and again, I wonder why people bother with the PC.

    It can’t be the graphics, the amount of money you need to spend to get a gaming PC that can outdo a PS3 on HDTV is nearly double what the PS3/HDTV would cost, with the benefits being so small and insignificant that they might as well not exist.

    It can’t be the controls, as most PC ports of console games don’t even give you the decency to remap the button configuration.

    And it’s most certainly not because it’s quicker and easier, as Shamus so wonderfully demonstrated above.

    About the only reason I could possibly think of that somebody would want to buy a PC port of a console game is because they don’t actually own said console, most likely because they spent all their gaming hardware dollars upgrading their rig with the newest and greatest graphics and processors that will be outdone and outdated in less than a year.

    Seriously, why people concentrate on PC when it’s only really useful for indie games is beyond me, as they can avoid so much pain and enjoy so many pleasures by getting a console.

    • Sashas says:

      I obviously can not speak for everyone who games on a PC, but here are my reasons for not buying a console.

      1. Price. I built my “gaming rig” for under $200, even counting the fact that both the first motherboard and the first graphics card I bought were faulty.

      2. Space. I live in a dorm room. While I know people who stuff a TV and multiple consoles into their dorms, I maintain a collection of arms and armor that leaves me without room to spare. My computer fits on my desk and does double-duty as paper-writing machine and gaming machine. A console could not do the former without more modifications than I care to make.

      3. Controls. Now, I don’t play console ports very often. (One exception being the first Assassin’s Creed) I agree with you that console ports are terrible. They are not all that PC gaming has to offer. I challenge you to replicate my mouse-keyboard control on your consoles without making your consoles into PCs.

      4. Genres. The games that I like to play do not exist on any consoles that I am aware of. (Turn-based strategy mostly, if you’re curious)

      • AoaoUrufu says:

        Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution is TBS and on the Xbox 360… You can find them but they are few and far between.

        I suppose I am in the Middle… I PC game (a lot) and play Xbox 360 AND have a Wii (Nintendo published games rule on it, others are hit and mostly miss)

    • Sanguine says:

      Controls. Particularly in FPS games, the accuracy and speed of the mouse/keyboard combo leads to a much rewarding experience than the sluggish, vague, computer assisted aiming of an analog stick.

    • Pickly says:

      for this particular game, I can’t say for sure (since I don’t know what sorts of people are likely to buy this game, what the hardware requirements are, etc., and these all effect the explanation below.)

      In general, though, there’s a lot of games that work better on a PC (strategy, MMO’s, being the big examples I can think of), plus people will likely have one already, so it may not be worth it to get a console just for a few games, or people may not know about the options.

      (As mentioned above, I don’t know if it applies specifically to this game, since the hardware requirements may make things problematic anyway from required updates, and most players may be the types to know about and use consoles anyway.)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      First,and most important of all,PC is not just a gaming machine.Buying one just for gaming is ridiculous.I use mine for work,for movies,for music,for internet,and for games.I couldnt do all that with a console.

      Second,you are wrong about the price.My rig was about the same price as ps3 when Ive bought it,and it is more powerful than consoles.Granted,I didnt buy a new monitor and hard disk,but then again,you dont count the price of the tv when you are buying a console.And for that same money,I can now buy a much better rig,meaning even more powerful than consoles.While the consoles stagnate,and increase their power in rapid leaps,pc power grows steadily.

      Third,controls are not better on consoles.Sure,the ports are awful,but I dont play that many console ports.And I play mostly strategies which are way easier to play with a mouse.In fact,shooters are also way easier to play with a mouse.

      Fourth,I love playing old games.Xcom,baldurs gate,master of orion 2,fallout 1 and 2,all of those I wouldnt be able to play on a console.New is not always better.

      • AnZsDad says:

        Daemian, I agree with everything you’ve said here EXCEPT “I use mine for work,for movies,for music,for internet,and for games.I couldnt do all that with a console.” In fact, many of the current generation consoles do allow you to do all of these things. Really, the only thing which a console doesn’t do as well as a PC is typing…there are attachments and peripherals which provide you a keyboard-like interface (or an outright keyboard), but the intended use of the device, and thus the initial setup, does not lend itself towards typing applications.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          I couldnt work on a console.And while I could watch movies and listen to music on one,it wouldnt provide me with the same picture quality as my monitor(since I dont have hdtv,and buying one would require more money than buying a new monitor),it wouldnt provide me with the same sound(since I dont have such great speakers for my tv as I have for my computer,and buying them would cost more than my speakers cost).Also,a console wouldnt give me the same storage capacity I have now.

    • krellen says:

      I already have a PC, and am going to have a PC. PCs have had “HD” graphics for decades.

      I don’t have an HDTV.

      So that’s why PC for me.

      Of course, I do have a console, but I only have about a dozen games for it.

    • Nick Pitino says:

      I’m going to agree with others who have already said that controls ARE an issue, especially considering that I’m pretty entrenched in the ‘Thumbsticks Can Burn In Hell’ school-of-thought.

      My main reason however is:

      Mods. Simply put the PC version has the potential and the console version currently does not (And I’m not holding my breath either). I love the idea of people being able to tweak the game, add in new features, make new maps and stories, or even go for the rare and much loved total-conversion where they throw out almost everything besides the game engine and build something entirely new on top of it. It’s essentially like getting dozens of games for free, some of which are actually BETTER than the original game!

      – – – – –

      I still miss the old Half-Life 1 modding glory days in particular, it seemed like at least once a week someone was putting out a good single-player map pack and about every couple months a quality Partial/Total Conversion would emerge.

      USS Darkstar
      Heart of Evil
      They Hunger
      Poke 646
      Counter Strike
      The Xeno Project
      Natural Selection
      …and many others…

      Damn, those were the days.

    • Anaphyis says:

      Ah, I was surprised no one resurrected this asinine console vs. pc war yet.

      My PC is 3 years old now and didn’t cost that much to begin with while my graphics card is 2 years old. And I have absolutely no problem playing modern games in HD resolution.

      I’ve used this PC nearly every day, more often approaching double digits hours/day then not.

      PC gaming is not an arms race. Sure, there are people out there buying 2 (for SLI) high-end graphics cards every month. The same people would buy several dozen 360s if there was a way to increase the performance by connecting them with each other. Using these people as median for PC gaming is equivalent for using audiophile nutjobs buying cables for several grand as the median for people with a stereo.

    • NeilD says:

      I suspect if you’ve been wondering this for as long as you say, you’ve heard all this before and have, for one reason or another, discounted it. But just in case you really have been wondering in a vacuum and this is the first time you’ve had or seen the discussion, here goes:

      Let me add to the voices saying “hell, yes, it’s because of the controls!” Even poorly-designed console ports, I can typically get the hang of in five or ten minutes. I’ve spent hours with those thumbstick contraptions on consoles owned by friends and family, and can’t even come close to the same degree of control. Please note that this does not make me wrong, just that I have had a different experience than you, and I must make decisions based on my experiences, not yours.

      It’s possible I have spent more on my PC than I would have on a console, but it does more than just that one thing. I use it for work, for email, for research, and for browsing my favourite websites such as this one, among many other things. I would pay the same for the whole thing even if it didn’t play games at all. On the other hand, I wouldn’t pay half as much for a device whose sole function is to play games.

      Finally, I’ll add another one that I don’t think I’ve seen mentioned here, or in any of the other (admittedly few) threads I’ve seen on the topic — playing games on my PC doesn’t prevent anyone else in the house from watching television. And no, I’m not buying a TV just to play games (see above), even if I had the room for it.

      I hope that helps clear up your confusion somewhat.

    • Jabor says:

      If your think your brand-spanking new 1080p HD television is awesome, let me show my 1920×1080 LCD monitor that I bought for a few hundred bucks several years ago and am now looking to replace with something better.

      “HDTV” is not high resolution. Not even close. It’s just television catching up to what computer monitors have been putting out for ages.

      So yes, it is the graphics.

      • Zak McKracken says:

        alright, this begs for a link:
        That pretty much sums the HDTV vs. computer display debate up

        Regarding PC vs. consoles: I have a PC anyway, and I use it for PC games. Console ports are fiddly, but if I wanted to play console games, I’d buy a console. Also, there _are_ consol-type input devices, but noone uses them if you can use a mouse and keyboard. Or a Joystick (sadly neglected devices, lately…).
        And: With my PC I can just replace the graphics board and I’m good for a few years to come, as opposed to a console, where I’d have to buy a completely new one. Or I choose another detail level or resolution.
        My gaming PC sits in the living room, is at the same time my TV/Video recorder/video editor/ DVD,movie player/graphics and audio workstation/surfing device. And it can play games, too!

        Having said that: I think the choice mostly depends on whether you only want to play games or whether you want to do other stuff. For some time people bought PCs and only used them for gaming, which is probably not the wisest thing, because you can usually get more gaming power for less money in a console. And I suppose maintaining a console is less trouble than a PC, what with software and driver updates, something not running, bugs needing fixes and game XY not cooperating with video driver version yx … so there are probably good points to every side here.

    • Nalano says:

      Because it’s a computer and a computer is a tool.

      The most important tool in your home.

      Just about every other electronic device in your home is a really crappy computer designed to do one specific task. And it’s in that limitation that really, really gets my goat.

      This is why I don’t have use Apple products or gaming consoles, and the only reason an “HD”TV is in my home because I didn’t pay for it. (My computer monitor has had a higher resolution for a decade. A decade.)

      Consoles can never be better than computers. Never. By definition, it’s impossible. The only reason you’re on one is because of the marketing package and the corporate circle-jerk that has long since realized that (a) people don’t know anything about what they’re buying, and (b) making a captive audience out of those people is fantastically profitable.

      • D says:

        Since when is an Apple product a single-task computer? I’m going to assume you’re lumping the iGadgets in with game consoles – which, fine, more or less single-use – and have forgotten that Apple makes, you know, PCs. Presumably with a different OS than you like.

        I don’t see refusing to use single-task computers as any sane way to defend PCs against consoles as a gaming platform. Better arguments – doesn’t hog the TV, better picture quality, etc. – exist. You don’t refuse to buy cars or toasters (I assume) because your PC could handle the same tasks if only you took the time to hook it up to an engine and transmission or a heating coil. And frankly, the car’s computer, relieved of the need to run a full user OS in the background or anything else, does its task far better than your PC would, anyway.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          “You don't refuse to buy cars or toasters (I assume) because your PC could handle the same tasks if only you took the time to hook it up to an engine and transmission or a heating coil.”

          Not really a good analogy.Now if someone decided to implement a laptop in a car,then make it so it can autopilot itself(well)to predetermined location while I can do something other on it,and for a price only a bit higher than for other cars(say no more than 10%),thered be no need to buy cars that dont have such a laptop.

      • MisteR says:

        This is exactly what I feel and could’nt put into words. Personal Computer. The part of the human body we didn’t knew we had until recently. A gaming console is, in comparison, just a childlike gimmick.

        I don’t own any console except for an ancient black gameboy, since it’s handy to take with you and it still plays two of the best games ever, pokemon blue and gold. But the fun of a multi hundred euro brick of electronics so that you can play inferior games on your tv… I don’t see it.

        • Shamus says:

          No upgrading graphics cards. No DRM. No mucking about with drivers. Far, far less buggy games.

          I’m a PC gamer at heart, but I can see why people choose consoles. Do not underestimate the value of convenience.

          • Stranger says:

            Well, sometimes the games still require patching nowadays before running at all . . .

            Anyone remember the days when console games were shipped complete? Or at least playable instead of some beta version burned to disc so it can make a release date?

    • ehlijen says:

      You seem to be under the incorrect assumption that PC gaming is just console gaming on an alternate platform.

      PCs have always been ahead in graphics as TV screens were unusable for text editing until very recently. Now TV monitors have finally caught up, but that still doesn’t change that graphics don’t equal automatic fun. They actually often get in the way via uncessary cost increases.

      PC controls are superior to console controls. Consoles use the one controller they come with (sometimes alternate shapes are available, but that’s all the option you get). PCs can use console style controllers, joysticks, wheels and the rightfully praised mouse+keyboard all via USB and make any game recognise them, through interface programs if need be. I was able to get the old DOS tie fighter game to recognise all 16 buttons on my joystick despite the game being older than SVGA graphics (look up what that means if you’re not that old). The only reason the flexibility of the PC in the controller department isn’t used is because the basic mouse + keyboard is just so good.
      And console ports not allowing remaps: This can be gotten around with through interface programs (yay for modding!) and only applies to bad ports. If you reduce PC gaming to bad ports of course it’s going to be bad.

      Speed and ease are indeed the console’s true strenghts. They pay for that in flexibility. In controls, in technology, in modding potential and in genre suitability.

      I would never play a shooter ported to the console (or made for a console for that matter). And then there’s the hardcore simulators, the turn based strategy in particular and strategy in general games that are just not suitable for controller input. Never mind actually trying to expand into new genre or mixes of genres which is what created the PC gaming market to begin with.

      PC gaming is different to console gaming. Seeing either as an inferior/superior version of the other is to miss the point of the distinction.

      • D says:


        But I’m curious why you point out shooters as something you’d never play on a console. My experience with shooters is that you dodge things, hide behind things, interact with things, and shoot things. This is way fewer controller activities than an MMO or a hardcore TBS requires. No problem on a modern console controller. But I’ve never played a shooter on the PC… so: Is there an aspect of shooters on the PC that requires mapping eleventy keys to custom purposes or is significantly improved by mouse control or something else unique to the PC?

        • Alan De Smet says:

          The reason to play shooters on a computer is mouse aiming.

          No gamepad can approach the combination of speed and accuracy that a mouse provides. Compared to playing with a mouse, using a joystick for aiming feels like using an Etch-A-Sketch; it makes you feel clumsy and slow. It’s also a more accessible skill; just about everyone can use a mouse to point at something and click with reasonable speed. Take my dad, who does enjoy shooters; I don’t think he’s touched a joystick in the last decade.

          Shooters on consoles can be a lot of fun, and I certainly play them, but they’re a different type of game from a PC shooter. A console shooter is more likely to have amount of auto-aim, slower enemies, less “twitchy” enemies, and an explicit cover system.

        • ehlijen says:

          What D said. Don’t expect me to like shooters anymore if you take away my mouse. No other input device is that intuititive while also being that fast. The fact that you can move it anywhere on the mousepad in a split second simply allows for such a great number of different input values that full 360 turning actually achieves a greater speed and accuracy than in real life, whereas with a thumbstick you inevitably have to accept the ‘turn it all the way one way and wait for the cursor to go where you want’ effect.

          On top of that, the the huge available input value range allows people to configure mice to their personal senstitivity levels and still work equally well.
          Thumbsticks, if they have the option at all, always end up with either too high a sensitivity for most people’s fine motor skill or the above problem.

          Console shooters use tools and different design approaches to mask the fact that their input device is less suitable for accuracy (aimbots, shorter engagment ranges, less accuracy drops while moving etc).

    • Jason Dayspring says:

      Hmm… Lets see. I got my PC used for about $150, and upgraded it to a gaming rig for about $120. Total spent, less than a PS3. In two years when the PS4 comes out for $500, I’ll have dropped another $150-$300 in upgrades. I’ve spent less than $600. You’ve spent $800, plus controllers, plus hardware upgrades, plus memory cards, plus ect… (Plus replacements when the PoS burns out on you…) Oh, and that’s per console… I get a better variety of games, user made mods, any damn control scheme I want to use (via software emulation if not supported in game). Oh, and lets see your console multi task, or do anything business related, or let you get creative (3D modeling, video editing, ect.), or let you connect to the world how YOU want to, instead of how they tell you to. Oh, and your HDTV? Check the pixel resolution. My monitor may be smaller, but it kicks your HDTV’s overpriced a$$ from here to hell. As a matter of fact my phone has nearly the resolution of your TV. (I also have an HD projector for watching movies on my pc with my friends. Seven foot tall screen if I need something bigger than my monitor.) Oh, and as to DRM, I don’t buy a DRM game until I check to make sure I can find a crack for it. (I learned from Phantasy Star Universe.) (And if the DRM is offensive like the crap they pulled for Assassin’s Creed 2, I don’t buy the game at all. Ever. I figure natural selection, you need to let these dumb bastards starve to death.)

  14. Rick says:

    Interesting… everyone that wants to play the game MUST sign up for an Ubisoft account, which then entitles them to “exclusive store promotions.” How ‘exclusive’ can that be?

  15. UtopiaV1 says:

    Wow, that thing requires you to sign more forms than divorce settlement papers, and the cd-key is probably longer than most nuclear launch passcodes (now, where did i first read that? :P ) To be fair, this doesn’t look as long or intrusive as i first thought. Can you ever uninstall the DRM if you uninstall the game?

    Also, still using Windows XP there? Oh dear… if you don’t get Windows 7, however will you ever experience games in glorious DirectX 10/11? (kidding, it’s not that big a difference, just much better lighting shaders, litter/particle systems and bump/parallax mapping, nothing to write home about. Although, because it’s newer and better written, i’ve heard DX10/11 runs faster in benchmarks without the new fetures, than DX9.0c and below. Maybe thats just a rumour…)

    • wtrmute says:

      I’m on XP, too, happy as a clam. When this machine was built, the top of the line was Vista, which is obviously not an option. I might update to Windows 7 on the next update cycle, although that is only if I’m forced by work to use an app that does not run on XP. Why update if this system is good enough?

      • Simon Buchan says:

        Since I get windows updates effectively for free (thanks, MSDN!), this is obviously skewed, but Windows 7 is *very* nice to use, just for window management, general responsiveness, not having to worry about defragging, and a million other tiny things. Whether that’s worth $200 (or whatever it is) is up to you of course, but it’s not just “shiny”.

  16. SiliconScout says:

    Shamus you didn’t blur out your user name on the registration screenshot.

    Just an FYI.

    Also thanks for the heads up. I wasn’t going to purchase this game anyway so it’s not like you lost them a sale (don’t want them to start calling you a privateer or something), this just really hammered home the whole point of why I won’t be buying anything from ubisoft again.

  17. Xakura says:

    “I haven't found any negative reviews of the game at all.”

    Actually, Jim Sterling of Destructoid quite famously hated it.

    By the way, does anybody know if Splinter Cell on pc is equally bad?

  18. Dev Null says:

    I hit the “accept” button, but secretly I don't really accept any of these terms in my heart of hearts. The software is unable to detect my duplicity.


  19. Rosseloh says:

    The game is awesome enough to make all that crap worth it, IMO. Not to mention, that’s only the first time you use it (I did install it through Steam, so I may have inadvertently skipped some of the dialog boxes): every other time you just have the phone-home software counting down from 3.

    The only other problem I’ve run across with the PC version is the damned forced-camera changes during certain sequences…Sometimes, when you’re free-running, the camera will change and you can’t do anything about it. Of course, the first time this happens it means you will jump off whatever you were running on, since suddenly the keys you were pressing to go a certain direction are unintuitive/changed.

    Note to Ubisoft: if putting that in was designed to increase difficulty, congratulations. Note that I curse your name a lot every time one of those stupid things causes me to miss a jump and run out of time, though. I can see where it would be only a minor challenge on a console with an analog thumbstick, but on PC we only have 4 directional keys….I use my camera (mouse) to determine my running direction. Taking that away from me makes the game a ton more difficult.

  20. Ha ha, that’s what you get for buying the game legit. Chump.

  21. Irridium says:

    Well, I personally refuse to install anything that requires a constant internet connection to play on my PC (multiplayer games excluded).

    My connection craps out at least 3 times a day. Trying to play this game would be a giant headache.

    Shame to, because its a damn fine game. At least on consoles. I’m interested in seeing how it plays out on the PC.

    And as a side note, it appears this “always online” DRM is slipping into consoles as well.


  22. Vegedus says:

    Huh, I hope you didn’t pay for it, considering you passed up on Bioshock, due to a DRM that was, RELATIVELY, mild compared to Ubisoft’s shenanigans.

  23. DaveJ says:

    I can’t believe you couldn’t find a negative review of the game.

  24. JKjoker says:

    ack, reply fail, the msg i replied seems to have disappeared, weird, ignore this msg

  25. Gandaug says:

    A friend just linked me to this.


    Here is the full article directly copy/pasted from the link above.

    Ubisoft DRM Completely Cracked
    By Hilbert Hagedoorn, April 23, 2010 – 8:33 PM

    After heaps of complaints about their protetcion and DRMs Ubisoft’s controversial digital rights management platform has reportedly been hacked, cracked and slashed by a consortium known as Skid Row.

    According to CNET’s Josh Lowensohn, the hack effectively removes the DRM ‘entirely,’ but requires users to download and install a modified .exe file:

    The DRM, which now ships with every new PC game made by Ubisoft, requires that gamers have a constant connection to the Internet in order to play their games. The security feature caused a large backlash by users for its inclusion in Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed 2 title, which was released last month.

    The hack itself removes the DRM entirely and is being claimed by a consortium known as Skid Row. It requires users to download and install a modified version of the game’s executable file to their computers. These modified game files, alongside a crack that can be applied to a retail version of the game, were uploaded to various file-sharing sites late Tuesday evening.

    Attached to the “readme” file that comes with the hacked content (which can be found here), Skid Row alerted other hackers that the group’s methods were safeguarded against reverse-engineering in order to fend off competing hacking groups and Ubisoft itself.


  26. Galad says:

    “Let's get on the assassin's murderbus to stabbytown. ”

    I can’t believe no one commented on how cool that phrase was..

    Also: “Part 1 of 1” You sure you can’t treat us to an actual video installment of the assassin adventures themselves? hehe

  27. Lonestar says:

    This is why I read your blog, seriously. Who else tells you about all the hoops you have to jump through to play a game?

    • Daf says:

      Well several of us jump through those same hoops our own selves.
      But truth be told it’s much more amusing hearing about Shamus jumping through them. ;)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well most of the reviews of ac2 for pc Ive read also mentioned how idiotic this system is.They dont do that for other games,no matter how annoying their drms are,but they do it for this one.Still,not in such a funny way.

  28. Ham08 says:

    Geez! That’s some pretty crazy hoops you had to jump through, Shamus.

    I had already made up my mind that anything with Ubisoft on the cover was a definite “No fracking way, Jose!” and this crap just affirms that my decision is the right one. The only one.

  29. Jarenth says:

    Because no-one else has said so yet:

    This single-player game pretends it's an MMO in the same way that a car plummeting into a ravine might briefly pretend it's an airplane.

    is the best analogy of anything I’ve read this year. Thanks for cheering up my day today.

  30. Scourge says:

    “Even more annoying is the fact that you have no idea what legal rights you really have (or lose) when you sign these things. ”

    Now that makes me glad for living in Germany, where such EULA’s are nil UNLESS you can read them before installing the game.

    As soon as you bought the game is it yours, and they can demand the soul of your unborn child in the EULA, you don’t have to give it to them though.

    But alas all comes with a Drawback, and here its censorship. Ah well, at least you can import games and the EULA is still nullified.

    • ehlijen says:

      I thought german censorship was bad until I moved to australia.

      At least in germany it’s only a practical censorship; that is stores could sell the stuff if they were fine with never publicly admitting let alone advertising that they do so and rely on people specifically asking for it while providind ID.

      Here they’re actively contemplating banning half the internet or so…

      I actually find german localisations to be the worst thing about gaming in germany. Thank you lucasarts for translating ‘cloaking device’ with ‘toilettenvorrichtung (toilet device in english)’.
      I wonder if them doing such things to the eulas is partly why they are void :p

    • Deoxy says:

      Actually, EULAs are commonly believed (even by many law experts) to be nil in the US as well – the software companies themselves put a lot of effort into avoiding actual judgements about them in court, which suggests what THEY think the outcome will be, as well.

      • krellen says:

        EULAs have been upheld a handful of times, and ignored far more times.

        The handful of times they were upheld were all because the person violating the EULA were basically violating the “don’t be a douchebag” rule that is inherent to all law, and the EULA was the only legal document available to punish them for it.

        The one big case I found was a guy buying a software catalogue (names and phone numbers – directories like that cannot be copyrighted) and then copying the database and reselling it for less than the company he bought it from. That’s a clear violation of “don’t be a douchebag”, but legally the only thing he had violated was the software’s EULA, so it was upheld. I’ve found no evidence of this case ever being cited as precedent in any other case, which would be required before you started to claim EULAs are legally enforceable.

        One-time cases are quite common in law; it’s why we allow humans to enforce and judge, rather than machines. These one-time cases allow for a single correction of justice, whatever the law believes about that justice.

  31. Stuart says:

    I have no problem with buying a game I think is worth it. But when I HAVE to have a internet connection to play or the game is buggy then no way.
    Not only is the internet connection crap and expensive in Australia but so too is the tax on games. US$100+ compared to US$50 to buy a game which I then have to pay for an internet connection just to play.

    What happens when the company goes bust or sold so no more servers to allow me to play? I miss the old DOS days now, at least I can still play those games.

  32. Electron Blue says:

    I was actually really impressed by the fact that I got System Shock 1 and 2 working on a Windows XP and Vista machine, but by the looks of it, I won’t be able to play games currently releasing now by 2015.

    • Scourge says:

      I recall there being an emulator version of System Shock 1, and System Shock 2 has a community that modded the game and patched the .exe to be XP compatible.

      • Electron Blue says:

        Oh yes, I had to go through that – but what I’m saying is that with the servers down, it will be literally impossible to play. Especially because these games won’t have dedicated, loving, coding fanbases five years from now.

  33. great. poke me when the game is $20. then I’ll play it.

  34. ARJUN says:


  35. ARJUN says:


  36. ARJUN says:


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