Assassin's Creed Tweak Guide
[Page 3] Troubleshooting Tips
This section contains specific troubleshooting tips which address many of the common problems experienced by players. I can't stress enough the importance of taking the time to go through the checklist of advice below if you're having a problem with the game.
Official Support: The first place to look for official support details is in the Readme.txt file in your \Program Files\Ubisoft\Assassin's Creed\Support\Readme directory, as it contains important details like the minimum hardware requirements for the game, as well as known issues. Next, you should check the Official Ubisoft Support Site for more details of known issues and solutions. Finally, you can get community tech support via the Official Assassin's Creed Forums - see in particular this thread.
The game also runs a detection application both the first time you start the game, and any time you wish if you run the Detection.exe file found under the \Program Files\Ubisoft\Assassin's Creed\Detection directory. Click on the boxes in the left column and the minimum requirement is shown at the bottom of the screen. If the program detects that you do not meet all the minimum requirements, you will have problems running the game, or may not be able to run it at all.
The Latest Graphics Drivers: One of the easiest ways of gaining performance in Assassin's Creed, as well as resolving any problems you may be having, is to use the latest available graphics drivers for your system. See my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide or Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide for details on where to download the latest graphics drivers and how to install them 'cleanly'. Make sure to grab the latest drivers, even if they're (official) beta drivers.
Audio Problems: Many people are experiencing audio-related issues with Assassin's Creed. This guide has a range of fixes you can try - see the Audio section of the guide, as well as the Advanced Tweaking section for more details.
Black bars: Assassin's Creed renders its graphics output in 16:9 widescreen format, a sign of its console heritage. This cannot be changed within the game, however there is a tool which can fix this for those running in DX9 mode - see the Resolution setting under the In-Game Settings section of the guide for full details.
Freezing/Stuttering/Crashes: For users experiencing noticeable freezing/stuttering or odd crashes, you should keep in mind that Assassin's Creed is very stressful on most every system. It maxes out both cores of dual core CPUs, it pushes the GPU quite hard, and even seemingly "stable" systems will experience crashes unless correctly configured. I strongly urge you to take the time to go through the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion to be certain you have an optimal and stable system setup. In my many hours of playing and testing Assassin's Creed, I have not crashed once, so it is not normal for the game to crash on all systems. However there is one specific fix you can try which may help - it appears that preventing the game executable from regularly (and unnecessarily) accessing the Internet can help stability and performance. If you're using the Windows Firewall, open it (Control Panel>Windows Firewall), then under the Exceptions tab untick both the Assassin's Creed DX10 and Assassin's Creed DX9 exceptions - these are not necessary whatsoever. Only the Assassin's Creed Update exception needs to be left ticked, so that the game's updater can contact its server at startup. If that doesn't work, try removing your network cable altogether, reboot and try playing the game.
Defragmenting: Assassin's Creed is a large game, and as with most games these days, it is very important that you run a defragmentation program after installing the game (and any patches or drivers) to reduce stuttering and loading issues. The normal Windows defragmenter is fine, however to get an even better result consider a commercial defragmentation package. More details are in the Drive Optimization chapter of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. Defragmenting is a critical step in reducing in-game stuttering.
Background Programs: The game's developers recommend that you disable all background applications - especially virus, trojan and spyware scanners and messaging utilities. These applications can and do use up valuable CPU resources, take up precious RAM, cause memory conflicts and crashes to desktop, but most importantly they interfere with read/writes to your hard drive effectively slowing it down and causing in-game stuttering. Full instructions on how to identify your startup programs and services and how to correctly disable unnecessary ones are in the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. This is an important step you should not miss as it has a major impact on the smoothness of the game.
Overclocking: Assassin's Creed can be sensitive to overclocking. If you've overclocked any components on your system and are having problems such as crashes, reboots and graphical anomalies, the first thing to do is set everything back to default speeds and try running the game. If you don't experience the same problems at default speed, or they're reduced in severity, then your overclock is the primary culprit. Either permanently reduce your overclock and/or increase cooling to regain stability. Don't assume that because other games run with stability at a particular speed that Assassin's Creed will do the same.
Heat Issues: Because Assassin's Creed can be quite stressful on both the CPU and GPU, even if you don't overclock your system you will have to keep a close eye on your temperatures, especially under full load, to make sure that your system doesn't crash or experience graphical anomalies through excessive heat. Many of the crashes that I've seen are to do with overheating systems - you will need to ensure plenty of air runs through your case and all your components are free of dust buildup so that your system remains cool under load.
I cannot urge you strongly enough to follow the advice on this, and the previous page. Make absolutely sure that you take the time to go through the completely free downloadable PDF TweakGuides Tweaking Companion, because that alone will make the biggest different to the stability, performance and smoothness of Assassin's Creed. I realise most of you are after a patch or a tweak which will make all these steps unnecessary, but the reality is that most PC game problems are caused by sub-optimal system conditions on individual PCs, not inherent game bugs. It may be boring to go through the TGTC for example, but it will give the biggest rewards to those who do, both in terms of performance and stability.
The remainder of this guide goes into more specific settings and tweaks which can help you better understand how the game works, and in turn improve your performance and customize it to suit your needs.