MOBILE

Assassin’s Creed Mirage for iPhone review


Assassin’s Creed Mirage is the latest AAA title to be released for iOS and iPadOS. It is the last of the four major games that were announced during the iPhone 15 keynote in 2023, the others being Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 4, and Death Stranding Director’s Cut. We already have reviews for those and now it’s time to take a look at Mirage.

Assassin's Creed Mirage for iPhone review

Mirage is the thirteenth entry in the Assassin’s Creed series and launched late last year on PC and consoles. Described as a return to the series’ roots, it follows the story of a thief turned assassin named Basim Ibn Ishaq living in Baghdad in 861 CE, who was a supporting character in the previous game, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. While Mirage is not the first Assassin’s Creed game on iOS, it’s the first mainline series game rather than a spin-off, made-for-mobile title.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage is available on both iPhone and iPad, with the minimum requirements being iPhone 15 Pro/Max on iOS and iPad with an M-series chip on iPadOS. Unlike the other games mentioned before, Mirage is not available yet on the Mac but you can purchase it once on either iPhone or iPad and play on either platform with synced saves.

Assassin's Creed Mirage for iPhone review

The game is about 10GB in size when downloaded from the App Store on the iPhone 15 Pro and then downloads another 3GB or so once launched. Strangely enough, when checking out the size of the fully downloaded and installed game on the phone, the iPhone reported only 3GB of space being used on the device.

Mirage is free to download from the App Store. However, you are limited to 90 minutes of gameplay, past which you are required to make a $25 in-app purchase to continue playing. The game also has other cosmetics and gameplay items that can be purchased for $10-$15 in-game.


In-app purchases
In-app purchases
In-app purchases
In-app purchases
In-app purchases
In-app purchases
In-app purchases
In-app purchases

In-app purchases

An immediate annoyance with the game is that it requires you to create a Ubisoft ID to play instead of just letting you sign in with your Apple ID. The current version at the time of testing (1.0.9) would also occasionally throw an online server error when trying to log in, which was doubly annoying.

Assassin's Creed Mirage for iPhone review

Moving on, let’s talk about the visuals and performance. The game was tested on the iPhone 15 Pro, which, along with the Max variant, is the least powerful mobile device that can run this game at present.

In terms of visuals, Assassin’s Creed Mirage wasn’t exactly path-breaking even on other platforms. Having said that, the game still manages to look quite good, especially on PC with all settings turned up. As is usual for AC games, Mirage is based on Ubisoft’s own Anvil engine, which is also used for the company’s other titles.

On the iPhone, Mirage offers the user three visual presets, viz. low, medium, and high, with medium being the default. The settings globally adjust multiple parameters without letting the user delve into specifics manually, like on the PC version.

Assassin's Creed Mirage for iPhone review

Starting with the high preset and going to medium shows culling in the LOD or level of detail in far away objects, with reduced object density further away from the camera. The game also switches to simpler geometric meshes for certain objects like trees, railings on buildings, and other clutter in the scene. Shadow resolution is also reduced, which results in softer, blockier shadow maps.

Going from medium to low further drops the LOD for far away objects, makes geometry even close to the camera blockier, further drops shadow resolution, and also removes certain texture decals from environments.


High
Medium
Low

High • Medium • Low

Compared to the PC version of the game running at maximum settings, the high preset on iOS compares quite well, with the only major difference being the texture resolution, which I’ll get to in a minute. The mobile version also has lower-quality shadow maps even at the high preset and not all objects cast shadows. Still, the mobile version looks quite good even at the lowest setting, which isn’t noticeably bad while playing unless you stop and stare.

The only odd thing I noticed was the character eyes in cutscenes, which looked quite dead with improper animation. This wasn’t an issue on other platforms so could be a bug or a performance-saving feature.

The biggest visual issue by far with the mobile release is the texture resolution. Despite the preset, the resolution of the textures remains the same on the iPhone, which is to say they are uniformly low resolution and blurry. This is an understandable tradeoff as even though texture resolution is not governed by GPU performance, it does require video and/or system memory, which the iPhone has precious little of.

Assassin's Creed Mirage for iPhone review

Assassin’s Creed Mirage on the iPhone runs at quarter resolution to that of the display, which on the iPhone 15 Pro means 1278 x 590. This is the game’s output resolution but internally it renders at an even lower resolution and is then upscaled to the above number likely with MetalFX. We don’t know what the exact internal rendering resolution is or what variant of MetalFX Ubisoft is using, if at all. There are some disocclusion artifacts in the form of sizzling on background objects as foreground objects move in front of them, suggesting a temporal upscaling solution.

However, unlike Resident Evil 4 or Death Stranding, which were especially blurry on the iPhone, Assassin’s Creed Mirage does not run at a significantly low resolution. So while the game does look a bit soft, it’s far superior in terms of rendering resolution compared to the other two titles. This is why the low-resolution textures stand out in particular as the rest of the game can be quite sharp.

Assassin's Creed Mirage for iPhone review

In terms of performance, Mirage is locked to 30FPS on both iPhone and iPad. However, the game struggles quite a bit to hit this performance target, even at the default medium preset. High can be quite unplayable outside of select areas, so that’s an option best left to future devices.

But even Ubisoft’s chosen default medium preset often struggles to maintain playable frame rates with long frame time spikes that can be quite detrimental to the game’s flowing parkour-style movement. The most reliable way to drop performance is to enable the Eagle Vision feature, which lets the player see enemies and key objects through walls and increases the load on the GPU by having to render objects out of the typical view frustum. Frame rates in this mode can be quite poor, making the stealth sections a bit of a chore.

Assassin's Creed Mirage for iPhone review

The game also just struggles to stream in assets while running resulting in traversal stutter. At one point the main character just froze while running, not because the game itself had frozen as the camera could still be moved, but the character was just stuck mid-run as the engine waited to load the area up ahead in memory. I don’t think this is a memory bottleneck issue but rather a CPU bottleneck issue as the iPhone CPU could not keep up with the demands of the Anvil engine, which is known for not utilizing multithreading correctly.

Regardless of the reason, the game can be quite annoying to play, unfortunately often at the worst of times when you are either engaged in combat or meant to run away from enemies. Switching to the lowest preset does alleviate some of the strain on the GPU but doesn’t do much to improve the CPU situation.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage on the iPhone renders at the native ultrawide aspect ratio. However, this is achieved by cropping the top and bottom of the display from the original 16:9 aspect ratio instead of expanding the horizon, the way it is handled on the PC version, and also other previous iOS AAA games. The cutscenes, however, render in 16:9, which results in distracting black bars and transitions every time one plays.

Assassin's Creed Mirage for iPhone review

One thing Assassin’s Creed Mirage on iOS does surprisingly well is the controls. While the controls on the Resident Evil games and Death Stranding were appalling and borderline unusable, the controls within Mirage are not too dissimilar to what you’d find on typical mobile games, which is to say they are still limited to what you can achieve on a touchscreen but quite usable at the same time. Of course, a controller is still your best option and my Xbox Wireless Controller worked perfectly over Bluetooth but unlike with the other AAA releases on the platform, you aren’t forced to use one.

Assassin's Creed Mirage for iPhone review

Another good feature is the presence of HDR, which works spectacularly well on the OLED display of the iPhone 15 Pro. This feature was sorely missing in Death Stranding but it’s good to see Ubisoft didn’t skimp on it.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about Assassin’s Creed Mirage on the iPhone. On one hand, the game looks good barring the blurry textures, has good touch controls, good HDR, and doesn’t take up too much space on your device. And while it was out of the scope of this review, the gameplay is decent too.

Assassin's Creed Mirage for iPhone review

On the other hand, the performance can be quite rough, usually when you need it the most. As it stands, Ubisoft needs to make further cutbacks to the visuals of the game to make it easier on the iPhone’s hardware as the current version of the game seems more optimized for the iPads. As such, I can’t recommend spending money on the game in its current state on the iPhone. Nevertheless, the first 90 minutes are free so you can just download it and see for yourself if it’s something you can enjoy playing.



Source link

New Mexico Digital News

Leave a Reply

Powered By