Ubisofts latest yearly installment of the Assassin’s Creed series came out about two weeks ago, and I finally managed to complete it from top to bottom. 60+ hours and 1000/1000 achievements later, I’ve got a pretty good grasp on the game, so let’s start with some of the good stuff.
This is the franchises first release for the next gen consoles which means it is expected to look amazing. The game doesn’t disappoint either. It is easily the nicest looking game I have played to date. The new engine also allows the developers to add in additional NPC characters on screen which has made Paris feel downright crowded in most areas. Some section even rendering hundreds of shoulder to shoulder NPCs as they riot in the streets. It is all pretty amazing when you look back at previous games that came out only a few years ago.
Control wise, the game actually feels like something of a step back from Black Flag. Ubisoft added in all new motion capture for the characters so each building you climb down or sword you parry comes with all new animations you haven’t seen before. For a game series that survives largely on style, it is fairly important. However where I found ACIII and Black Flag to have very refined a smooth battle and climbing mechanics, Unity feels much more sluggish. Climbing isn’t broken necessarily, but it does feel more difficult. However the addition of an option to climb down quickly is about the greatest thing this game has added to the series.
Combat also feels sort of clunky, but I feel like this may have been intentional. I always loved in the last two titles that I could run into an enemy fort, get attacked by 20+ red coats, and comes out unscathed. I was a walking death machine, and untouchable. The games had gotten some criticism for it which I thought was stupid. In Unity once I was proficient, I could usually handle 1-4 enemies at once with relative ease. Once you start getting more than that however, things get dicey and I found myself either choosing to run, or using creative techniques to stay alive such as smoke bombs. I’m actually thinking this was how Ubisoft wanted it to play so you weren’t an unstoppable juggernaut and had to actually plan out a strategy rather than just run into an area and decimate everything. Even then, I still miss the old way.
In addition to that, Unity doesn’t really seem to have it’s hook. The original title survived on the fact that all the competition was World War 2 era first person shooters or sci-fi. It gave people a unique title that they hadn’t seen before. ACII and it’s subsequent sequels refined the whole idea from the ground up to make some far superior games. ACIII and IV added ships to keep things fresh. But Unity hasn’t added anything, and with the lack of ships it actually feels like they regressed. Co-op might have been what they wanted to use to define this title, which brings us to the next subject.
This was what Ubisoft has been touting on this game since they announced it. The ability to play story missions with up the three other players. It sounds like an amazing idea in theory, but in application I found myself less impressed. It was fun to play some missions as a group, but the game actually splits the missions into different categories. Single player missions are single player only, and co-op mission are group only. Also calling them ‘story’ missions was a bit of a stretch. A 15 sec explanation of why we are killing a target isn’t much more than an Assassin Contract mission, but now I have help. Also the difference between single player and co-op is basically just the number of enemies I can expect. If an area has 10 enemies when I’m alone, it has 40 when I’m with four people. Not exactly some ground break stuff. Add in that the servers are constantly lagging or kicking us out of group, and it comes out as pretty lackluster addition.
For the first time Ubisoft has all but done away with the present day story. There are a few conversations with nameless faceless present day “Assassin’s”, and you are an also nameless faceless Abstergo employee helping to get them information that doesn’t really seem that important. As for the main content of the story inside the French Revolution, as always I found myself intrigued to get to see some of the highlighting moments in history. However there was nothing all that impactful going on with the Assassin’s and Templars. Arno himself feels like the French copy of Ezio. Don’t get me wrong, Ezio is amazing, but I’ve played him for three games. Let’s get a little creative.
I’ve listed off quite a few more bad things that good above, but don’t let that give the impression that I don’t like it. At the heart of the game is a very fun and beautiful game that I very much enjoyed. It has me very excited for the next title with this engine after they work out some of the bugs in the game. This was the first title since Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood to ship without a PvP style multiplayer. I never really liked the previous games multiplayer so I wasn’t missing anything. Now that this game all wrapped up I will be starting on Assassin’s Creed Rogue soon. Word around the internet is that it’s pretty good.