Now that I've a) got code and b) got said code to run after a ton of tinkering, I've spent a couple of hours with gaming's latest whipping boy, Assassin's Creed: Unity. Given yesterday's web brouhaha about its shonky performance on console, it seems worth sharing my technical experiences with it on PC too.
Below are a bunch of numbers, if you like that sort of thing. TLDR: it's not disastrous, but something sure ain't right.
Clearly, this is just how it runs on my PC. Your mileage may very well vary hugely. Particularly, I haven't been able to try this on an NVIDIA card yet. Here's what I got, though.
The major observation is that I cannot get this sucker to consistently run faster than just over 40 frames per second, whatever I do. That peak is at lowest graphical quality and lowest resolution (though it will only go down to 1280x720 on my screen), but even then it spends most of the time in the 30s. It just won't run at 60 fps no matter what I try. There's no sign of a framerate cap; this is simply a performance issue, so far as I can tell.
What's odd is that the performances changes relatively little if I pump the resolution up to 1920x1080 (or even 2560x1440) and stick the settings on High or Very high. Generally, it's stuck around between 30 and 40. (Yes, I do have vysync turned off, the refresh rate set to 60 and the very latest graphics drivers installed).
Ultra High, which I wouldn't have expected to be smooth on my system anyway, flickers around the late 20s at 1080p. Doesn't look a huge amount different to Very High anyway, so no great loss. Whatever the settings, the frame rate's all over the place - huge jumps and drops depending on what I'm looking at or what action's going on. Clearly that's the case in any game, but it seems especially and distractingly pronounced here.
I do prefer to play at 60fps rather than 30 where possible, but if I'm honest that's more about principle than noticing the difference in practice, at least in a game like this. So I can deal with 30fps/1080p well enough. Trouble is it's an entirely different matter in cutscenes. These feature super-detailed versions of the character models, and slump down to about 17Ffps, which is far too treacly to deal with. Not that I particularly want to watch the cutscenes going on what I've seen so far, but I'll get back to that once it's review o'clock.
My concern, essentially, is that Unity remains a 30fps game even when everything's set to rock bottom, and that the frame rate spikes so wildly whatever my settings are.
Above: ACU at lowest settings. The image at the top of this post shows ACU at Very High settings. Click through for bigger, uncropped versions.
While my PC isn't the greatest it's pretty well-equipped - Core i7 980x [edit- this is a hexacore CPU which I've overlocked to 4GHz; while it is not maxed out during play, according to Speedfan, its possible that its age means it lacks some tech ACU wants to use. Again though, the worst performance has been in cutscenes], Radeon 290X, 8GB RAM - so I strongly suspect this is down to the game rather than an inadequacy on my part. This would also reflect the major performance issues being reported in console land; apparently the game regularly drops below 30 frames on PS4 and Xbone.
The good news is that, on my system, I can have it sit at a 30fps minimum (bar cutscenes) without too much compromise. I suspect this is more to do with my relatively beefy graphics card than it is the PC version being in better shape than the console versions.
This, I suppose, makes the PC version the best-running version of the game, provided you have the hardware. And fifty bloody quid. And 42 gigabytes of disk space/bandwidth. And don't mind not having it on Steam.
Hooray? No, not really.
As for the game itself, clearly it's too soon to make even the slightest judgement, but what I've experienced so far has been very traditional Creed with no surprises other than a little more building interior stuff and a somewhat, but not dramatically, prettier world. Oh, and also lead character Arno has very nice eyes.
I'm not expecting the freshness of Black Flag, but I would like to see more invention in the missions later on - so far it feels excessively familiar.
Anyway, gizza couple of days and I'll let you know more.