In the pantheon of annualized releases, Assassin’s Creed uses its action, adventure and puzzle-solving each fall to fill our minds with playing the histories we’ve only read about in books. From the Renassance to the American War for Independence to now the French Revolution, Ubisoft spins another tale of the past and present colliding through the use of our own (or other’s) DNA. In order to bifurcate their audience by platform, Ubisoft created a new Assassin’s Creed release for the last generation (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3) – called Rogue – and one for the new generation (Xbox One/PlayStation 4) here in the French Revolution, called Unity.
In Assassin’s Creed Unity, you play as Arno Dorian, a French man who as a boy found his father murdered and raised by nobleman and Templar Grand Master, François de la Serre. Arno’s biological father was of course a Master Assassin. Framed for M. de la Serre’s murder, Arno finds himself in jail and in touch with the assassins where he quickly jumps the ranks as he looks into the death of both his biological and adoptive fathers.
One of the great things about Assassin’s Creed games are I can write “it plays like an Assassin’s Creed game” and you, our fantastic readers understand what I mean and I can focus on the new and improved stuff. The first new mechanic you take note of is the crouching. Finally, I can crouch and sneak around and stay out of sight without having to be in a bush. Never really understood that and I’m thrilled they finally addressed it. Next great insight is with the assassination missions. Basically, at the end of each sequence, you will need to eliminate a target. Instead of giving you only one course of action, Unity opens it up to you giving you just enough information to let you know number of entrances, exits and escape routes. The game also gives you a couple of “helpful scenarios” to lead you if you wish to use them. These missions are not hand-holdy at all and give you a bigger sense of freedom. Lastly, the combat has improved. Not necessarily in how you fight or your weapons, but rather in the AI minds in the enemies on the field of battle. They will no longer surround you and wait their turn to fight you. The different enemies and enemy types will pick their battles carefully in order to defeat you.
The game is not without flaws. While the textures and graphics have received a significant bump for the next-gen platforms, the team at Ubiosft Montreal was not able to lock down the frame rate. Normally, I’m not a frame rate counter, but there were several moments where I was not in battle or in a crowd at all and my frame rate dropped into the teens, which wouldn’t annoy me if I wasn’t traversing a building, missed a handhold and almost plummeted to my de-synchronization. I also had some trouble with the netcode as I attempted to utilize the co-op function with my friends. It was disappointing, especially when they do so much to entice you to try it. Lastly, were the ridiculous amount of chests that you needed to collect for full synch, but were locked behind what appears to be pay gates or time-consumption gates, if you will. These require me to use the Unity companion app to unlock, which would not be such a chore if the app itself worked better. The companion app for Black Flag was so great and this new app feels bulky and unwieldy. These chests along with the upgradeable skills felt like all that was missing were some microtransactions.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed Unity is solid game that just seems to have never found its footing. It honestly feels like a product that could have used another month of polish before release. The load screens are tremendously long and the experience feels rushed. That is not to say I did not enjoy the game, but this is probably not a game I will return to and will look forward to next fall. Still a definite buy for those that are fans of the franchise and have already made the plunge to the next generation (Xbox One/PS4). I encourage those still waiting to hold off and just play Rogue in the meantime. You’ll be better served picking up Unity on the cheap when you do make the jump.
Assassin’s Creed Unity Launch Trailer