It is such a shame to see a franchise built on a foundation of passion and innovation crumble into the stereotypical one-a-year pay-to-win uncooked bun that is Assassin’s creed: Unity.
Please note that I have not played this game. I have seen extensive gameplay and have listened to many podcasts regarding its authenticity and quality, so I feel I am sufficiently qualified to express my views on the game. Do not take me for an ignoramus that has a preloaded bias against the series, believe me, I don’t. The sheer beauty of ACII made it one of my favourite games of all time.
To avoid spiralling into a whirlwind of random points of rage and inadequacy, I will address each pro and con of each aspect of the game individually.
The modern day storylines of the assassin’s creed games never cease to amuse me. The threat of oblivion creeps in closer and closer every game, and the general ambiguity and lack of information always keeps me interested throughout, and the unexpected revelation in ACBF really set the bar quite high. Unfortunately, this time around, the over-used “get inside the animus and retrieve X but spoilers it always happens at the end of the game” is used again. Sure, it was good enough the first few times around, but since then the magic of it has been ebbed away by use.
Onto Arno’s story, it doesn’t strike the perfect balance between good situational narrative and successful protagonist that Ezio in ACII bore. Since then, they still haven’t achieved both those things. ACIII had a good story but Connor had no depth, an airhead even, and not ONCE did his morals conflict him as to what would be the right choice. Sure, he might have been a bad ass, but that simply isn’t enough. In ACBF it switched the other way around. The story tried to make you mourn over characters that ended up dying, but they didn’t have enough on-screen time for anyone to care. For a game about being a pirate, there were no scenes of Edward being taught how to steer a boat, or no scenes of Adiwale sharing stories from his past. The potential was there, but it wasn’t explored. Edward, however, was well written and acted. For the first time around, you play as someone who is never initiated as an assassin, and so your loyalties lie either as a pirate or an assassin depending on where Edward’s own moral compass sways, which was a new dynamic to a character archetype that would’ve otherwise run dry. As well as this, there were scenes from Edward’s past that gave another dimension to his love interest (Caroline) and at the same time showed that this bad ass was extremely human, poor in coin and brittle in integrity, and it was actually quite emotionally investing.
Arno Dorian carries none of these traits. He is well acted but it goes to waste because he holds no real motivation that Ezio had. Players never had to question why they were hunting the templars in ACII, because they killed Ezio’s family, who were shown to be loving and innocent, but with Arno I don’t feel any grounds for rebellion, much like Connor. He is, in short, a typical chiselled model of what an Assassin protagonist doesn’t have to be. Being someone who plays these games for the story, I was disappointed to say the least.
The downward traversing in Unity is a massive improvement that shows innovation, and it is especially needed down Paris’s HUGE cathedrals. The character customisation allows for a larger selection of garb than ever, and it offers also a wide roster of weapons and firearms. They have also added new investigation missions, small ‘paris noire’ style objectives where you must reach a conclusion as to who is the perpetrator of a crime, and there is a penalty if you guess wrong. A gleeful distraction to keep you entertained.
Having said this, these good things collectively do not make up for the fact that somehow Ubisoft have made their game actively worse. The combat is slow, and they have done nothing to make up for the fact that ships are not at all present. The so-called ‘choice’ missions are not frequent enough to really have an impact on the overall game, however good they may be in themselves. The stealth system is severely broken, and you never truly know weather you are hidden from the enemy or not. God knows how they did this seeing as ACBF seemingly perfected stealth. The AI in this game is horrendous. In some cases you can traverse down, no clip inside an enemy AI, and walk away without him knowing you are even there.
If you want a good gameplay experience, this betters some aspects but worsens more. It is infuriating at times and you should honestly stick with ACBF.
I will start off by saying that the art team created a map filled with passion and creativity. The buildings you loved in ACII are there in spirit all across revolutionary Paris, and the immaculate detail in proportion to the sheer size of the buildings is cause for celebration. And the clothes are very well designed as well, vibrant colours and materials scream Paris…
which is why it pains me that the tech team let them down so much. The game, especially on PC suffers from HORRIBLE pop in textures and glitches that take away from the experience, and it goes to stupid extents like character’s faces popping in and out during pathetic 30fps cutscenes.
The draw distance also lets the art down; often you will be strolling down the streets of Paris and entire character models in the crowd will change. Pathetic.
GENERAL RESPECT FOR THE CONSUMER
As I said before, the game boasts a poor 30fps cutscene cap, apparently because “It looks more cinematic” said Alex Amancio, creative director. People aren’t stupid, Alex. 30fps is bad. That’s like saying we’re going to take sharks out of ACBF because it’s more realistic. Frankly I wouldn’t be so sad if the cap was 30fps because the machines can’t run it, that would be fine, but saying it’s 30fps because it’s “more cinematic”? That’s just disrespectful, and a lie. I can’t even see that being an opinion.
Not only this, but the ACU in game marketplace boasts a whopping $99 coin pack to help you along with buying those in game upgrades. What is this? This does not belong here. This game costs $60 and people did not buy this under the intention that it was an alternative to clash of clans, this is a AAA title, micro transactions have no place here. Again, disrespectful, and some chests you have to open with the mobile companion app. If you buy this game and it alone, it does not say you need a prerequisite smartphone or wad of cash. Forcing these onto the average gamer is fundamentally wrong in practicality and morals.
A lengthy 12 hour review embargo (a time set where reviews are allowed to be released) was set for Unity. In this, Ubisoft didn’t trust its own game to sell on its own quality, and forced their itchy-trigger-finger fans to snap and buy their game under the impression that Ubi would deliver on their promises, not knowing it would then receive scores such as a 5/10 from renowned organisation Joystiq.
“Did I ever tell you what the definition of insanity is? Insanity is doing the exact… same fucking thing… over and over again expecting… shit to change… That. Is. Crazy. The first time somebody told me that, I dunno, I thought they were bullshitting me, so, I shot him. The thing is… He was right. And then I started seeing, everywhere I looked, everywhere I looked all these fucking pricks, everywhere I looked, doing the exact same fucking thing… over and over and over and over again thinking ‘this time is gonna be different’ no, no, no please… This time is gonna be different” -Vaas Montenegro
After making the same game over and over again, how they manage to royally mess this up is beyond me. Should you buy this game? absolutely not. I, a UK resident, paid half the price for black flag which is twice the game this is. It’s simply not remotely good enough for the $60 price tag. It came out of the oven too quickly, in terms of bugs and story.
And I have to ask myself, should it even have been made at all? The aspects of this game that appear unfinished do not have enough merit in themselves to boast the next gen title. With a game that seems, on the outside, so utterly impenetrable, it appears that Ubisoft have made an active effort to make a bad game. I’m not a person for review scores, but if you are thinking about weather to pick it up:
Don’t pick it up even at sale price and preach to as many people as you can how bad it is. If people start doing this then maybe Ubisoft will listen to the consumer. If you have the cash, buy Far Cry 4 instead.