DRM has become the source of a lot of vitriol recently, which is a shame, because some companies (well, okay, just Valve) manage to get it right. One pirate-hating publisher that certainly hasn’t got it right, however, is Ubisoft, which has revealed that the PC versions of Assassin’s Creed II and Settlers 7 will require you to be permanently connected to the Net.
We’re not talking about occasional online checks, either. If you’re playing one of the games and your net connection goes down, then you’ll be locked out of the game until it comes back again. Seeing as Internet downage is a serious problem in some parts of the UK, the games could now be a no-go area for plenty of gamers. Not only that, but the DRM system will also make it impractical to play the games on a gaming laptop on the move.
The ludicrous DRM system was first discovered by PC Gamer when trying out a copy of the game. The magazine stated: “if you try to launch the game when you're not online, you hit an error message right away.”
The magazine also noted that the game stops and dumps you back to a menu screen if you unplug your network cable, or if your router is rebooted. Frustratingly, the magazine’s staff also said that they lost all of their gaming progress since the last autosave checkpoint.
Disappointingly, Ubisoft has confirmed most of PC Gamer’s findings in an interview with Ars Technica. Ubisoft clarified some matters here, pointing out that you’re only taken back to the menu screen if you suffer a prolonged disconnection; if it’s only a couple of seconds then the game will just pause for a bit.
Ubisoft didn’t seem to be particularly bothered about gamers losing their game progress either, pointing out that Assassin’s Creed II, "reconnects you at the last checkpoint (and not the last autosave, as indicated in the CVG article). There are many checkpoints so you're back to the point where you got disconnected in no time." Conversely, Settlers 7 at least has the decency to return you to the point where the connection went down.
According to Ubisoft, once you’ve been chucked out of the game, it will then keep trying to reconnect indefinitely. So, as long as you don’t mind wasting loads of electricity while your PC waits for your net connection to return, then you can get back to where you left off.
Assassin’s Creed II is scheduled to be released for the PC on 5 March 2010. Ubisoft recommends, a Core 2 Duo E6700 or Athlon 64 X2 6000+, along with a GeForce 8800 GT or Radeon HD 4700, to play the game. Bizarrely, however, the minimum system requirements don’t mention an Internet connection anywhere.