UPDATE: Ubisoft responds.
The endless arms race between software publishers and software pirates continues to wage as Ubisoft unrolls its latest attempt to keep nonpaying players from enjoying their products. PC Gamer has experienced the new digital rights management impacts in place within the PC versions of Assassin's Creed II and Settlers VII and the results are mind-bogglingly offensive. If the Internet connection (either your connection or Ubisot's connection) should drop at any time during gameplay, then the game comes to a screeching halt and your immediate progress since the previous checkpoint is lost.
If you get disconnected while playing, you're booted out of the game. All your progress since the last checkpoint or savegame is lost, and your only options are to quit to Windows or wait until you're reconnected. The game first starts the Ubisoft Game Launcher, which checks for updates. If you try to launch the game when you're not online, you hit an error message right away. So I tried a different test: start the game while online, play a little, then unplug my net cable. This is the same as what happens if your net connection drops momentarily, your router is rebooted, or the game loses its connection to Ubisoft's 'Master servers'. The game stopped, and I was dumped back to a menu screen - all my progress since it last autosaved was lost.
Even if everyone in the world had perfect internet connections that never dropped out, this would still mean that any time Ubisoft's 'Master servers' are down for any reason, everyone playing a current Ubisoft game is kicked out of it and loses their progress. Even massively multiplayer games aren't so draconian about the internet: you can't play when the server's down, but at least you don't lose anything for getting disconnected.
Sometimes I think companies like Ubisoft want to get out of the PC business altogether and these sorts of DRM schemes are a convenient way to drive away business in order to justify abandoning the platform. Publishers have every right to protect their products from unauthorized use, but as soon as legitimate users are impacted, then the DRM plan has gone too far. If Ubisoft is so worried about their products being pirated that they would implement such heavy-handed protection measures, maybe the company should get out of the PC market. After all, what does not exist in the first place cannot be pirated.