Not a seamless transition.
Another year, another Assassins Creed. I’ve been following the series ever since the release of the first game, and since that it has become this power house Ubisoft franchise that started releasing annually. Assassins Creed Unity is the first “next gen” AC game, and so obviously a lot of people want to know “is it way better than any of the prior games or just more of the same?” Let’s grab our gear, find the nearest high point and jump straight into the stack of hay and find out.
Players control Arno, a young suave man, much like Ezio before him, thrown into the brotherhood after a chance meeting in prison. Will he follow the creed? How is he involved with a Templar? Soon enough he starts exploring Unity’s main setting, which is Paris during the timeframe of the revolution. That being said, the player has a huge, vast city to explore right from the get go. Arno controls much like the other assassins, although the parkour elements have been changed a little. Now, players can control either going up or down when scaling buildings with a button.
Platforms: PS4, XB1, PC
Time to Beat: 15 +
Price I’d Pay: 49.99
Arno can make transitions to his various jumping and climbing animations with ease. The moments of fumbling in the environment still occur, but at much less frequency. This all helps Arno as he sets off to do the various missions at his disposal. While the game has a standard set of main missions, it truly is huge when it comes to the amount and variety of sides quests including: murder mysteries, protection missions, pulling down posters, building Arno’s headquarters up and more. There is seemingly an endless amount of content here.
Combat has taken a bit of revision, along with a leveling system. The city, enemies and Arno are all rated with a diamond system; as the diamonds increase, so does the challenge and the ability to tackle them. If rated a single diamond and trying taking on one rated five, the player is going to have a hard time. This all plays into Arno’s equipment, which he can purchase and upgrade. Short, heavy, long weapons are at Arno’s disposal, and he can also buy and upgrade various parts on his suit.
All these are also rated, so as the player increases the arsenal and attire, the level will go up. This all plays into the combat, and letting the player know if they can tackle it. Sure, the player can attempt harder challenges, but the system allows them to know just what they are getting into.
While the combat can be considered a bit slower in Unity, it’s also a bit more dangerous. Arno cannot sustain more than a few bullet shots. Enemies now interrupt during other attacks, and there is no longer a counter ability per se. The player must now time parries just right to be able to strike back. The harder the enemy rating, the more they block, throw flash bangs and dodge attacks. A welcome challenge to the combat, as the previous games became overall easy at times.
The city and scale is one of the first things that will pop out to the player as the increased draw distance, improved textures and detailed lighting system truly showcase that this is being played on a new console. While the time of day no longer changes dynamically, it does so between fast travel and various missions. Cloud cover does occur, along with blotting out the sun at times with rolling shadows on the environment. It’s all extremely impressive, and adds a sense of further realism to exploring a real life city. There can be hundreds of NPCS on screen, which is definitely another step up from the previous games’ sometimes empty settings. Characters during cut scenes have extremely impressive facial features up close as well, which goes to say that Unity can be quite a looker at times… but at what cost?
Unfortunately, Unity is a mess when it comes to its technically side. The game sometimes has a hard time keeping up with what’s happening on screen, and it’s hard to ignore. NPCs suddenly pop into view, the frame rate tanks and the audio stutters or drops. There is a laundry list of glitches that can occur to at any time, sometimes more often than not. A day one patch is available, but Unity can prove it needs a few more to get all its ducks in a row.
Another huge issue is the locking of extra content via online means. Uplay has been consistent with Ubisoft, but now there is an additional AC Initiates program required to use or even the companion app, just to unlock in game content, a low blow. Also let’s not forget the ability to still buy hacking points with real life currency to unlock other upgrades. Head shaking inducing indeed.
I’ve been a huge fan of Assassin’s Creed. I always thought since the first game that it had potential to go above and beyond, and I never imagined it would reach the heights it does now. With so much going on in their gaming world, the quality of visuals, number of NPCs and more is a true testament to their talents at Ubisoft, and the sense of scale always wowed me. Yet, the technical performance is such a hindrance and burden at times; you can only hope it played as great as it looks. There is a lot to love in Unity, like tons of content to keep you busy for hours on end, but you have to be willing to overlook its truly ugly shortcomings.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.