Review: Assassin’s Creed Unity

I’ve played almost every release of Assassin’s Creed since the first one came out in 2007, with the exception of Liberty and Rogue, and I’ve pretty much loved them all. Each one builds upon its predecessor and continually provides a unique, fun, and lengthy experience. This all culminated with the 2013 release of Black Flag, which in my opinion was the best in the series. I say all this to lay the ground work for you, for you to truly know how much I love this series and how much I was looking forward to a Co-op ready game in one of the greatest periods of history. So when Unity was released and reviews and videos popped up showing a pretty messy, glitch ridden game, I chose to hold off on picking it up. Most games tend to ship with a few glitches, just none on the scale like those I was hearing about in Assassin’s Creed Unity.

Assassins_Creed_Unity_SP_ArnoAndElise_1409669061When I did decide to sit down and play it, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of glitches I encountered while my 6.52Gb update file was busy downloading. I only managed to find one in the rough hour I played before installing the update and it was just a random NPC shaking like he was having a seizure. I still noticed a few frame rate slowdowns during a cut scene or two but very marginal and some other NPCs seem to glide instead of walk, but nothing game breaking like the videos of faceless characters haunting the internet.  It seems that Ubisoft was able to fix most of the issues that plagued the game at release. The more and more I got into the world the less I saw of any glitches or I was having to much fun to actually notice.

Assassin’s Creed Unity is a gorgeous looking game and France is easily the most interesting setting so far. This really is the Assassin’s Creed10887131_10205139143454759_8151687495210323773_o for the next gen. The cut scenes are beautiful and as an added bonus, you can pause them for when you need to go check on a sleeping toddler like I often do. The Ubisoft team at Montreal did a great job adding some variance to the free running system. Players can now slide under tables, vault through open windows and cut through countless open buildings to escape pursuers. You can shimmy up gradually inclined roofs and have more control of your descents with the “free run down” mechanic. The added free running and stealth kill animations add a bit more flavor to the whole thing to make the whole experience one to enjoy. When you stalk your first target, you’ll also be treated to the new death sequence interrogations that are a nice change from the old.

The old days of just holding down the block button in fights are gone, players now have to rely more on the parry and dodge as their main sources of defense. I really like thisf51daf83084e90ec95b058abe18619a4 direction, and while I did feel like a true master assassin taking on 20 guards at a time in previous games, it was incredibly easy and not all together satisfying. Unity does a great job of making you earn your kills and making you pay for not being quick with a dodge. Unity also looked to add a bit of depth by how they now handle skills and weapons by an upgrade system. Skills that you once learned at various points in the game, or started with in some cases, can now be learned via an upgrade system. Through the upgrade system players can learn new stealth techniques, how to use firearms, and long range weapons like spears all directly linking to a elective tutorial to practice your newly unlocked skills. Weapons and armor can still be purchased after being unlocked through various missions. Different weapons still have different stats, but now clothing increases or decreases different stats as well and if you like a certain load out you can now upgrade each item individually to become more powerful rather than just have to use a different load out altogether.

Assassins-Creed-Unity_2014_09-02-14_004As always there are plenty of things to keep you busy in Unity. In addition to helping citizens, stopping random crimes and going on side assassin quests, players can now take on co-op missions with other assassins of various rank. Matchmaking was fast for me in the various missions I undertook and the added ability to communicate directions to your teammates without the use of a microphone was greatly appreciated (especially with that sleeping toddler I mentioned.) Along the way you can encounter time abnormalities that place you not just in revolutionary France, but other key points in time and the level designs, again, are simply amazing.

For all the things Unity gets right and improves upon it stumbles in other areas. Glitches and bugs aside, one area Unity limps along is the story. Over the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Ubisoft has slowly been decreasing the amount of time the player is forced to be out of the Animus and with Unity they just offer you cut scenes to fill you in on the story. At this point in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, I think getting rid of it entirely and just crafting a story set in the past would be best for the franchise. The main character Arno feels like a vanilla, less realized version of Ezio. You go from boy to capable fighter with no real explanation or reason. While the story is one of the low points, it offers new players who might have been intimidated by the complex over arching storyline a fresh jumping on point. Ubisoft also removed one of the most successful additions from Black Flag, the naval combat. I would have loved to see what they could have done with that portion of the game with the other upgrades they added. I can only hope that we see it return in the next installment announced to take place in late 1800’s London.

At the end of the day,  Assassin’s Creed Unity is another fun entry in Ubisoft’s blockbuster franchise. While I would wait to play it till the kiddos go to bed because of the graphic, although beautifully animated, violence. If you’ve been holding off because of all the negative press about glitches, don’t worry about them. The patch takes care of a lot of issues and Ubisoft is going as far as offering the first DLC for free for compensation. Whether you’re a fan of the series or thinking about jumping on for the first time, you won’t be disappointed in this game

 

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