Ubisoft Online

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Tom Francis over at PC Gamer has a blog entry spelling out his experience with Assassin’s Creed 2 on the PC. It’s also one of the first titles to roll off the assembly line equipped with Ubisoft’s new online-only service that I spoke about here and it’s already sparked heated reactions.

Basically, Tom tested whether or not he could keep playing the game without an internet connection so he unplugged his network cable to simulate the effects of actually losing it, presumably in the middle of poisoning a few guards or while leaping across rooftops. He had to do it this way because he wouldn’t have been able to even start the game if the launcher was unable to verify a connection in the first place.

Sure enough, the game reacted….in the worst way imaginable. It kicked him right out with a little message that said it had lost a connection to the server and was attempting to reconnect to restore the last checkpoint. The game uses the saves it has on the server to restore his progress. He notes that the saves are also local with an option to upload them or not, so in essence, the saves aren’t all on the server – but he still needs to be online to even play the game.

So what will happen if their servers, your router, or even your cable service goes down? Exactly what happened to Tom. Assassin’s Creed 2 doesn’t even have multiplayer. The only reason to stay online is to play the game. You’ll lose out on whatever progress you might have been making and be unable to play the game you paid for until the problem is fixed. And it isn’t even a bug, it’s a feature.

They won’t be winning friends among the PC faithful that want to experience titles such as Assassin’s Creed 2 with this approach despite the pleasant language Ubisoft’s FAQ on the service is written in. I didn’t even know that online saves were a feature that PC users desperately needed, but apparently Ubisoft has access to poll numbers that probably say otherwise.

Magic poll numbers that claim everyone’s hard drive is liable to crash in the next 24 hours.