DRM's Creed

Assassin's Creed has been on sale over at Steam for a few days now, and I've been waiting to pick it up since I never bought the Xbox 360 version. I finally grabbed it on the first, had it downloaded and was playing a few hours after later. So far, the game has been pretty fun however, I'm prepared for it to start to drag though, thanks to the warnings from the interwebs - I can already see it coming. That's not what I'm writing about though, you see two days after I bought the game, I was playing when suddenly the game crashed out to the desktop. I didn't think to much of it as I started it back up, only to notice that the Ubisoft introduction movie was very choppy. Once in game, I picked up just about where I left off, roaming around the city performing one of the missions that will follow me throughout the rest game. I go running along roof tops after a request to stealth kill a bunch of archers. I run up, unheard, behind the first - pressing the button to trigger a stealth kill. Jumping in the air Altair swings his arm back with his wrist blade drawn, when suddenly - nothing. He's frozen in mid-air, just for a few seconds though, and then it's back to business. Strange, I hadn't noticed that before. I finished off the remaining archers with the same results, a pause during the stealth kill animation. I figure well, maybe it's something to do with the animations themselves and run down to a group of guards and sure enough I start getting weird pauses during the fight while trying to use counters. So, now I'm a bit concerned, I have done anything to the system since last playing so I defragment the hard drive that all my Steam games reside on. Checking it this morning I find I still have the same problem - and then the game is deleted. I figure I can re-download it quickly enough but, might as well do it during work. Fast forward to lunch time and giving it another shot. Upon start up I still have the same stuttering intro movie. Once in game I again attempt a stealth kill with the same results as before. Now, I'm starting to get a little worried - have I fried my video card already? That couldn't be it after all, everything else runs fine. Deciding it might be time to see what the Steam forums have to say. I quickly find a post labeled "SOLUTION to Freezing while killing" right on the top of the Assassin's Creed forum which details what is going on. Apparently, when ever the player attempts a stealth kill (or counter or picks up a flag or saves) the game attempts a connection to Ubisoft servers. Yes, it appears that as part of the games DRM the game is phoning home in an attempt verify it's legit. Only problem is something has been up with the servers the last few days and they haven't been responding properly resulting in stuttering while the game tries to sort out whats going on. Luckily, the fix is to simply add the IP addresses of the servers into the hosts file making them redirect to the localhost. Computer gaming and DRM at it's finest - thanks Ubi!