One title that's not currently on our Big Games Of 2008 Wot We Should Post Many Words About list is Assassin's Creed. Mostly that's because it's already available on console, and across the sinister mass of the internet you'll find many a proferred opinion on it, filled with love, hate, hate towards people who love it, hate towards people who hate it or, most commmonly, bitching about its cutscenes. Judging by regular mentions in our threads, it's a game that causes strong feelings amongst you lot too, so perhaps you don't need us to give you the skinny on this one. But you do still need us, right? Right?
Also, we really don't know whether there'll be much, if anything, different about the impending PC port. Until now. The first truly concrete piece of information's just in, and it's a stonker. The minimum system requirements for it are, well, a little shocking.
Processor: Dual core processor 2.6 GHz Intel Pentium D or AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ or better recommended)
RAM: 2 GB (3 GB recommended)
Video Card: 256 MB DirectX 10.0–compliant video card or DirectX 9.0–compliant card with Shader Model 3.0 or higher (512 MB video card recommended)
The most demanding PC game ever? Quite possibly. Seeing a dual core CPU as a stone-cold must-have is unusual enough, but the bit I keep staring at in disbelief is "3GB recommended." Oh Em Gee. 2GB's only just becoming the accepted RAM stickage for a new PC, but who has three bloody gigs of the stuff? (Um. Except me. But I nicked mine from mates who work on hardware mags). Thinking about this, I had a flashback to the glory days of Planetside. There was something like outrage amongst my peers that the game needed a whole gigabyte of RAM to run well - some felt it was an obscene amount of memory to have, a crazy luxury, like underwear made of diamond.
I can think of two reasons for this ridiculous hardware asking price. One (the obvious one) - the game simply hasn't been optimised for PC. It smacks of someone just pulling the big Port lever and then slapping it straight onto a disc without spit'n'polishing it up for non-360/PS3 hardware. Why? The game's picked up a bit of a bad rep in some quarters; perhaps there's been a decision that PC sales will be too minimal as a result to justify the time and extent of making the port scaleable to lower-end systems. Or perhaps focus-grouping has suggested only very dedicated PC gamers, those with the flashiest graphics cards and ultra-RAM, are interested in Assassin's Creed. Or calculation had it that cost of reworking the engine significantly outweighs potential profit. Or maybe it's the more traditional excuses of piracy (on that note, here's a Call of Duty 4 developer expressing his dismay at piracy levels) and flagging PC sales. Perhaps all of the above. If minimal optimisation is to blame, I'd doubt it was a decision made lightly, at any rate.
Two - This version of the game is vastly more beautiful and silky-smooth than its already gorgeous console cousin. It's going to fill every last byte of those three gigs with untold wonders, and denying the game to the mere 63% of gamers with less than 2Gb RAM was deemed worth the sacrifice to make this happen.