Five Things I Liked About Assassin’s Creed Unity
1) Paris. Wow. The city is the true star of this game. The graphics of Unity are definitely a joy to experience, and scream “this is next gen.” While Black Flag had some enjoyable naval stuff going on, none of the carribean settlements can hold a candle to the wonder of running around Unity’s paris. Being able to in and through many of the buildings is also a huge step forward for the AC franchise, and makes the city feel even more alive and impressive.
2) Character customization is the best its ever been in Unity. Instead of a pirate ship to upgrade, this time around you get… a Starbucks. Basically. So they had to amp up the Assassin gear to offset this, and they did a great job. Not just in allowing visual customization, but tailoring playstyle as well.
One of my biggest problems with the AC franchise has always been a natural inclination to play it like a stealth game, such as Splinter Cell. It isn’t. Not now (even despite the addition of a dedicated sneak button), and I assume not ever. Being able to spec my assassin as more of a fighter if I chose was nice.
3) Free run down. Such a nice step forward for Assassin’s Creed, especially one with a city as architecturally detailed and diverse as Paris.
4) I was pleased to find the game has zero modern times “out of animus” stuff. At no point do you need to go trapsing around an office building in service of the series’ bullshit Abstergo storyline. There is still some stuff delivered via webcam and voice over that remind you that you’re trapsing through a dead guy’s memories, but the game never fully takes you out of the reason we all play AC games: the period-piece assassin stuff.
5) The combat feels noticeably improved/more challenging in Unity. Enemies will attack even while you’re engaging someone else. It took me a while to adapt to the timing required to counter attacks, and to stop zoning in on 4-5 hit combos againt one person that left me helpless against another. Assassin’s Creed has long needed tougher combat, as opposed to the whack-a-mole we’ve had for too long.
Five Things I Didn’t Like About Assassin’s Creed Unity
1) AC Unity shipped with a fair number of bugs, as I’m sure you’ve heard/seen by now. Just because it’s fairly commonplace nowadays for a game to be shipped with issues, only to be patched a few days or a week or two later, doesn’t make it something I’m ready to excuse.
2) The parkour is, while slightly mechanically improved and vastly visually improved (the animations are more varied and fluid), it is still rather inconsistent. Sometimes Arno will stop dead at one object, unwilling to free run to the ledge directly in front of him for no discernable reason. Other times the game will clearly fudge a gap that should not have been made, rocketing Arno forward through the air to make a connection.
While being able to free run down almost balances the scales here, it says something when Shadow of Mordor’s traversal, originally criticised for being to similar to AC, actually pulls off a more satisfying system.
3) The pop ups, reminders and external app tie-ins for Unity drove me a little nuts. I was constantly being reminded that I had unspent skill points, that I had missions to do, or that I should sign up for UPlay or use the Assasin’s Creed app in order to access half of the treasure chests in the game. It was really distracting, and frustrating.
4) The inconsistent voices. This game is supposed to take place in France. All of the pedestrian chatter is in French. Anything important to the story is in English. I understand why, but it’s so obvious. More than that however, only a small handful of the english-spoken accents seem to be French accents. There are an alarming number of British accents. Maybe I’m missing something, but this sort of thing appears to happen all too often in video games and movies. Someone says “Well he’s supposed to be foreign… any kind of accent will do, the Americans won’t know the difference.”
Ubisoft is a French-Canadian company, so I have a hard time believing this would be the case, but the accents in the game definitely felt inconsistent to me.
5) I hate the fact that the last few Assassin’s Creed games have started us off in our protagonist’s shoes prior to them joining the Assassin order, and yet right off the bat we’re climbing and parkouring like a pro, with no explanation as to why a normal pre-assassin trained individual would travel this way.
I can understand after joining the order, they’ve been trained in the necessary skills. But running across rooftops is not something ordinary people even consider doing to get from point A to point B.
Should You Buy Assassin’s Creed Unity?
If you thought that AC3 was fairly bad, and Black Flag was a much needed step forward for the series with the naval combat and huge open world… Unity may feel like a step backwards. Gameplay-wise, at least. There’s no arguing that Unity is a gorgous looking game.
But if you just enjoy the Assassin’c Creed games… well, here’s another one. It’s not the worst of the series, but it’s not the best of the series. I think the general negative reception towards the game has been blown a little out of proportion. I still find the game to be rather entertaining, despite its flaws.
I mentioned on stream that I thought the game itself did not necessarily live up to being deserving of the awesome Paris they attached it to. In ways, it almost feels more like a proof of concept for the sort of things the AC franchise can be capable of during this console cycle.
Personally, I think AC needs to be stripped back to the studs, even if that means giving up the annual releases. A complete overhaul from the ground up. Finally take a look at what works, and what hasn’t been working since the get-go, and build a new game from scratch.