Assassin’s Creed Unity is the latest in the long running Assassin’s Creed series and this time takes place in revolutionary France during the early 1790’s. You will play as Arno whose father was an assassin who gets…. Assassinated… This leaves Arno as an orphan. Although he doesn’t just end up with any family, he ends up in a Templar family and gets a new best friend, Elise. When her father is murdered, it’s up to Arno to solve the crime.
When I first saw the trailer for Assassin’s Creed Unity which came out during E3 earlier this year I was very excited about the game. Not only was it in one of my favourite historical periods, but it was also going to be a game on next-gen consoles only, which to me meant it wouldn’t be so limited in that it would have to work on the previous generation as well.
I got so excited to play the game that I went out and bought it on the first day it was released and literally ran home and played it. But after about 3 hours of playing my excitement quickly went away and I started to get disappointed. The game had some type of frame rate problem. On many missions that I played, while I was climbing buildings or running through crowds, everything would just slow down and sometimes freeze. IGN has a video of the issue here.
Now don’t get me wrong, the freezing didn’t happen that often, it was an occasional thing and while I did get the game on day one on Thursday last week, there was an update on Saturday night which got rid of most of those issues. Sadly though, it wasn’t the only issue I had with the game that I disliked. But the freezing was still a fairly big one though!
Not Being Able To Go Through This Door Didn’t Help Either
The story that we get for the entire campaign is so cliché and bland that really it could have taken place anywhere in any time period. It’s really just a murder mystery and while I do wonder who was the murderer of poor Elise’s father it just isn’t told well enough to us throughout the campaign to remain interested in it. Games like LA Noire are leagues above this game when it comes to murder mysteries and there are missions in this game that are set out similarly where you walk around scanning for clue, but it’s all so easy that you are just led to the culprit by simply playing them out. There’s no skill in those missions at all and you don’t even need to think about them much to solve them at all.
On top of this, the main character of Arno has no significant scenes of worth, other than maybe a drunken sequence towards the end there is virtually no character building for him at all. Last year’s Assassin’s Creed Black Flag was a far superior game to this when it came to characterisation and Edward Kenway was a far more developed and interesting character to be with. Arno is bland and boring and really has next to nothing to offer of interest.
Added to this as well, while there are quite a few cut scenes with Arno chatting to Elise or other characters in the game to help carry the story forward in a way. Often times when completing a mission in the game, for example assassinating a significant character, you just get these short flashback scenes that don’t add much but clues to help Arno solve the mystery. There are so many of these flashback scenes, but they aren’t clear to me why they are needed and they didn’t help at all. Villains as well are cartoon like and don’t ever really seem threatening and while there were many characters in this game that I went after, chased, or spoke to, it’s hard for me to recall any of their names as I’ve already forgotten them.
Going After A Villain – Sequence 6: Memory 1 (possible spoilers in the video)
In this video at the start it kind of glitches out I guess. I’m supposed to be tailing the guy, but he just stops and I walk past him without being spotted. When I die and it resets he continues through and turns around to check if I’m there. It’s so weird!
That’s the problem with the story, it’s so generic and focuses the whole time on Assassin’s/Templars that there is nothing there to really make it stand out. I felt like I had heard all of this before in Black Flag or any of the previous games. Looking back at my time with Assassin’s Creed Unity, I don’t really have any fond memories, or anything awesome that I saw. When I played Black Flag last year I would tell people how fun it was driving the ship, or exploring the islands. In this I tell everyone that I scaled a wall and it started freezing up….
The game however is not all bad. One of the main things that I did enjoy about the game was the city, the crowds and how lively everything was. I guess because it is on the next generation consoles as well as the PC only that they can get a whole lot more people in the streets now. I loved that! You walk around the city and it’s so full, there are people all over and it’s like a city should be. No more empty streets with 10 people on them, this game had hundreds of people appearing in a single location at a time. It was so great to see that finally happening in a game.
I also really liked the scenery in revolutionary France and there are a lot of historical building you can visit and explore. I also liked that there was the ability to also read about different areas or even bridges. For example I read about the founding of Versailles and how it came to be. That’s all interesting stuff, but it’s a bit hidden away so you have to go through the menu’s to find it all. But for those who aren’t interested in reading them all, there are some audio messages as well such as when you read letter’s sent to Arno from Elise. But those letter’s aren’t historical facts they are there to fill the story and I guess they add some content to it which is lacking quite a lot. You can also read newspaper’s which provide some context for what is going on in the streets around you which is good as you can find out why exactly people are rioting.
The new combat is quite good as well and seems much more focused than in other games. I also liked that the blood of the characters you hit splatters all over the place and Arno himself has some blood effects shown when he is hurt as well. It makes it all the more realistic and it’s good to have some of that in the game. Most of the enemies though are still fairly easy to fight and I had no issue with them at all. In fact I used the same mace throughout the entire game. They do get harder towards the end though, there are 12 sequences and I’d say by about sequence 10 or so that they seem to get significantly stronger and more difficult. This makes it hard to just go through the front door for every mission as I did up until that point. But I’m glad the game at least offered some difficulty and wasn’t a complete pushover. It’s nowhere near as difficult as Alien Isolation is, even on the final sequence so it’s still quite an easy game.
There is also quite a lot of character customisation in Assassin’s Creed Unity. You can now choose different outfits for Arno to wear and walk around in and even choose between different sets of colours. You can also select and choose your weapons at any time by pressing options and scrolling through them all, as long as you’ve purchased the weapon, you can switch to it. Weapons are also upgradeable but they can only be upgraded once, it’s a very simple upgrade system, you spend some points and you’ll get say 25% damage increase to your mace, after that, that’s it.
Around the city there are many shops you can purchase so that you can get better in-game income and you can also upgrade these shops, once upgraded they will provide you with even more. I finished the game with only purchasing two of these shops and I had more than enough money for my weapons and never really ran out. There are also small missions you can do which are started in the shops or by travelling around the city, these will also give you more money and extra bonuses. I liked that there were quite a lot of small missions and also random events that popped up around the city such as tackling a thief. But while they were good they weren’t as good as the random missions in GTA V as they aren’t in-depth. In GTA V when you stop the thief you then have to go back to return the item or you can choose to keep the money for yourself, makes sense right? In Unity when you tackle the thief it will say crowd even completed and you just go about as you were, you get nothing out of it. Arno doesn’t even say anything either, in fact Arno is pretty quiet for the whole game and rarely says a thing at all.
There are also multiplayer and co-op missions. These are interesting because you can have a friend along with you who can help you out. But I didn’t feel like I needed a friend for them, they are still super easy and if they were single player levels, maybe they would have been more fun as at least I would have some type of challenge. In multiplayer it’s easy to get through as the guards can’t really contend with fighting two players at a time, it’s not much of a match. It’s fun if you can get a friend on, then at least you can chat with them and make jokes about the game but really I didn’t really see the multiplayer as necessary. Unless I want to get all the trophies which I am considering doing as the game does look fairly easy to platinum.
Overall Assassin’s Creed Unity just isn’t that great, it’s not really that close to being good either and for a game that is marketed as the next-gen experience we’ve all been waiting for it falls short by far. Yes it’s got a nice looking city, yes the crowds make everything lifelike and full and yes the combat is pretty good. But the glitches, the poor storytelling and characterisation and the overall recycling of many things that we have seen are quite difficult to overlook and this makes Assassin’s Creed Unity a fairly mediocre experience.