Another year and another Assassin’s Creed game has been hurled into the video game arena. But does Ubisoft Montreal’s latest combatant, Assassin’s Creed Unity give us a fight worth watching or fall to the first opponent?
This historical based third-person action-adventure game is available on the PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Assassin’s Creed games have always taken pre-existing historic events and interjected their own twist to it. In this case, Assassin’s Creed Unity applies its own interpretation to the bloody times of the French Revolution. Arno Dorian is the name of the latest assassin which you will be playing as.
As a young boy your assassin father is ironically assassinated.
After a second stroke of unfortunate events in later life Arno finds himself in prison. Here the brotherhood of assassins reach out to you and so are initiated into their league. With a leadership and things in disarray trouble soon sprouts from everywhere and you slowly begin unraveling deep rings of conspiracy and murderous scheming.
Usually I ignore the ‘out of animus’ subplot and the game seemed to follow suit. The link back to the modern day is only done with brief video footage asking for your assistance and explaining a few things on the odd occasion.
As one might guess, the city you run around assassinating people in is that of Paris.
While no historian myself, the city seems fitting to a late 1700’s Paris amid turmoil and uprising. There are many fancy cathedrals, including the famous Notre Dame, littered around the place.
From the places and mansions to rundown buildings and courtyards it is all quite picturesque. Unfortunately everything does start to look the same after only a short time of gallivanting around.
Arno, as with every other assassin you may have played as, navigates his environment with unfathomable parkour skills.
Sadly to say the mechanics to achieve this in game are just as unfathomable. You can climb walls, jump, sprint and latch on to almost anything in sight.
Here is where the trouble lies as the city has a nefarious amount of environmental objects and edges to adhere to. It has you wishing the 17th century Paris wasn’t the only ‘thing of the past’.
Trying to duck for a specific bit of cover or make it through window became cause for dismay. I would usually end up at the wrong (and obviously useless) bit of cover or loitering around the window both resulting in the alarm bell being sounded and me fighting my way out of the situation or die trying.
There is also a large kerfuffle of people crowding the streets of Paris that impede your path. This might have been impressive if not for the very noticeable drop in frame rate this caused.
This wasn’t the only performance issue either. Many times both visual and audio would pause for a few seconds mid-battle. On too many occasions the game froze completely and sent me to the Xbox One home screen or automatically reset itself.
I found it ironically amusing when the person outside of the animus told me in a few instances “you may come across unfinished sections and broken code” and “uh, here we go again, inside a mess of broken code”. These quotes were referring to breaks in the animus, although I couldn’t help but feel it was reasonably accurate to the game.
The few sections where you come across this broken animus will have you briefly running through Paris in different time periods to escape this broken code (too bad this couldn’t have worked with the actual game itself).
These sections weren’t particularly interesting and seem to be an excuse to make iconic references when they couldn’t have otherwise given the chosen time period.
Getting past the bugs and unbearably long load screens the missions hold a decent amount of fun. There are numerous types to take on. Some include murder mystery missions where you need to find clues, interview suspects and then accuse the determined guilty of the crime.
Other types involve tracking down information or sneakily retrieving decapitated heads for Madam Tussaud.
The main assassination quests easily take the cake. Here the game seems to keep in mind it’s an assassin game.
There are numerous paths to take and a few ‘opportunities’ to activate that will assist in you. These might create a distraction or have you discover a secret entrance that will get you close without being noticed. This isn’t to say you can’t rush in swords blazing and leave a trail of dead soldiers and guards in your wake.
Arno doesn’t start out as the perfect assassin, even with a montage. You need to both unlock and then purchase new abilities as the game progresses.
This did give a small sense of achievement which I could finally do a double kill from the air. Assassin points are used to purchase the abilities and are earned through completing missions.
Armour or clothing has been broken down into specific categories such as hoods or belts and each piece has a certain visual style and set of perks that accompany it. Each can now be upgraded once to increase its specific stats.
The variety of clothing items enables players to don attire more complementary to their play style or for the more fashion minded, give Arno a more unique look.
Equipment can be purchased or unlocked through several methods. Some just require main story while others might require certain co-op missions.
Weapons have increased in selection, allowing slightly more diversity for your character and play style. There is one-handed, long, heavy, rifles and guillotine weapons. Despite this, I didn’t venture away from the one-handed as carrying around a halberd for instance seemed odd to me. Weapons can also be upgraded.
Co-op has made a slightly more elaborate appearance in Assassin’s Creed Unity but unfortunately, it didn’t live up to its potential. The co-op is specific to certain missions and doesn’t really contribute the overall story, but rather lets you participate in certain historical events with others.
The co-op specific missions can require max of 2-4 players. The general missions involve numerous tasks and mission types.
You might protect someone on a march or participate in a tournament. They offer rewards such as new equipment and assassin points.
The heist missions offer big cash rewards. These involve stealing a large sum of money but require a good amount of stealth and co-operation to accomplish. This became apparent when I was put with a random player and things went south quickly due to a lack of communication.
Lastly you can simply explore the city of Paris with others or friends. In this mode story missions can’t be completed or accepted. Instead together you can find chests and gather the numerous collectables around the city. To me, this seems kind of pointless.
Assassin’s Creed Unity does not really have anything new to set it apart and the co-op idea is limited.
There are many broken and frustrating aspects that seem to outweigh the few good and possibly enjoyable ones. When the main mechanic of game is seemingly broken, along with appalling performance issues, this doesn’t all add up to a very impressive game.
The game is playable but only with a reasonable amount of perseverance. The co-op is a nice idea and when played with the right people can offer fun but isn’t enough to truly sell the game.
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