This is an unscored review, and of course spoiler free. If you want to know about the game, read on.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity (AC: U)
Let’s dive into AC: U and have a look at what worked and what didn’t.
A story of two halves: rushed then abrupt
To the right you see Élise de la Serre, the love interest of the game’s protagonist, and player character, Arno Victor Dorian. Arno becomes an Assassin to uncover the truth behind his father’s murder, but Élise becomes a Templar, the reason for which is told to you. This whole lovers from enemy ‘families’ makes for a great Romeo and Juliet style love story.
The story of AC: U starts off well with some great comic sections, where as child Arno you have to steal an apple under direction of Élise – they grew up together. And then some sombre moments with the heart wrenching death of Arno’s father.
However the story is not all great. It starts off well, then get’s rushed. Until it suddenly doesn’t appear to go anywhere, until it just suddenly ends. The final mission, for gameplay is not the best, but story wise it is among the best in the Assassin’s Creed series.
Animations are great but combat makes me combat insanity
…some of the best animations in a Ubisoft game to date…
Climbing in AC: U is different from each game before it. To sprint you hold down the standard high-profile button, but now you have to move the joystick all the way forward, pushing it half way makes you jog. This simple addition allows a few buttons to become free, these are free-run up and down. This actually makes running across roofs a little more entertaining, and with some of the best animations in a Ubisoft game to date, I found myself just randomly jumping off places to get ‘that cool animation I had a second before.’ Although you will find the standard AC annoyance of jumping to the wrong place from time to time.
Crowds play a bigger part in AC: U than any other game in the series.
Combat is attempting to capture a flow based system like in the Batman Arkham games, but all it ends up being is a button mashing system, and then you get shot by men with guns 4 times. The worst part is that you are only fighting 3 enemies. In theory it’s a better system, in practice it’s worse. Just because you can’t take a human shield, with that it would have been fine.
Side quests: standard sleep, new start
…these transport you out of Revolutionary Paris to three different time periods…
All the side quests are the AC standard set of, get special armour by completing the same tasks over and over, dive off all towers (after synchronizing), work out the glyphs, and I’m sure you all know the drill – if you don’t there isn’t much more interesting beyond what I said. A new addition to the side quests are murder mysteries, which I still don’t understand how to find – none of them unlocked for me. There is however one story mission where you do have to solve a murder, and honestly I didn’t find it interesting. The side quests which are a change for the series are the Helix Rifts, these transport you out of Revolutionary Paris to three different time periods, World War 2, Medieval France, and the years shortly after the Revolution leading up to World War 1, known as the Belle Époque (Beautiful Era). In these Helix Rifts you must collect data clusters to reach a specific score, different coloured clusters gain you varying points.
Arno says to himself “Wow… how drunk did I get last night?”
A setting of dense surprise, and drops
1700 – 1800s Paris is a beautiful place, full of rich, and some of the poorest you can think of, with sewage running down the streets, and men either trying to kill or rob others. There are buildings, a lot of buildings, to climb, to jump from, and to navigate atop of. The city is dense with people, and with such come many disappearing opportunities. As “crowds are now usable like never before” – Ubisoft will probably want to say. The crowds in AC: U are probably the games greatest surprise, but also one of its greatest down falls. Having so many people on-screen at the same time murders the games frame rate, sometimes plunging it below 30 FPS, even when I set my graphics to the lowest setting the frame rate does not rise, this of course means I played on PC, like a chump. AC: U runs perfectly well – after being fixed multiple times – with no crowds present even on the highest setting.
I suddenly realise I don’t know how to get down. Help?
A dance with boredom and fun hidden in the crowd
…even for a massive AC fan, I may have to resist picking up future games.
Even with all the issues AC: U has, the combat and frame rates, and after being fixed, it is still a solid game. With some of the most fun free-running in an AC game to date, and some great protagonists (mostly Arno and Élise). Even one or two great antagonists (one specific character who turns on you makes for a great moment). AC: U is a great game wrapped in some very problematic issues which plague Ubisoft games, the too-many-things-to-do-which-are-not-interesting, issues.
Ubisoft may need to consider ending the AC franchise however, it is getting drawn out. Even for a massive AC fan, I may have to resist picking up future games.