Assassin’s Creed has always been one of my favourite video game series because of the way Ubisoft have built up a culture around it, leaving fans worldwide eager to find out each year what time period the next game will be based in. This year, Ubisoft delivered their first true ‘next-gen’ title, having not being available on Xbox 360 and PS3, this left a huge buzz and high expectations for all of their viewers, although they delivered tremendously with the graphics, technical hitches held back Unity a great deal. Following up from my article last week (https://www.nubimagazine.com/assassins-creed-unity-patchy-start/), I have continued to play Unity hoping that performance will improve. Overall Unity really surprised me with new ideas that it brought to the series, with incredibly difficult fighting mechanics and awesome new stealth features, to unfortunately be held back by constant frame rate drops and technical difficulties.
Ubisoft decided to ditch the Desmond backstory at the end of Assassin’s Creed 3, allowing new players to understand the game as a stand alone and not having to play the other 5 games to understand what was happening. Black Flag introduced a mild backstory where the player would enter the animus to gather footage for a new film, with again bringing elements of present day templars and abstergo still trying to discover the pieces of eden in present day. Unity seems to be set in a different scenario as the introduction shows, leaving players at the beginning of the game very confused with what is happening. This year we were presented with Arno, an assassin set on the eve of French Revolution attempting to uncover the death of his father while protecting his childhood crush, Elise. With a slow beginning like every Assassin’s Creed game, the story picks up with exciting twists from Sequence 4 out of 12.
Customization is one of the biggest changes in Assassin’s Creed Unity, bringing a huge RPG element that has never been seen before. The customization allows you to buy and dress your assassin that improve specific talents depending on your play style, which is again supported by the weapons customization from other Creed games. The customization is extremely vast with a lot of unlockable items throughout co-op, which I’ll go into later, side missions and even the main missions themselves. The player must first unlock the item of clothing to then continue to buy it and equip it to gain the stat upgrades. Microtransactions are also available in Unity that allow users to spend real money to buy these upgrades available a lot quicker, which is arguably unacceptable in a £40 game. Skills are also a new feature within customization, unlocking ‘sync points’ throughout doing missions, the user can purchase certain skills within the sectors of the clothing upgrade as seen above.
Gameplay mechanics have improved greatly in Unity, with a new feature of ‘Free-Run Up’ and ‘Free-Run Down’. This allows the user to navigate throughout Paris with a lot more precision with where they are trying to reach. This was definitely needed at the expansion of the map Ubisoft has created. Paris offers an incredible amount of opportunities to its players, with thousands of NPC’s wandering around, Paris now offers the ability to explore open houses and windows that many collectibles are hidden within. The fighting mechanics bring back the feeling of Assassin’s Creed 3, except there is now a much shorter opening window to parry and counter attack to kill the target, making the fighting a great deal harder, encouraging the stealth of an assassin.
Ubisoft introduced the whole idea of ‘Unite’ within their marketing campaign with Unity being one of the first Assassin’s Creed games to introduce full 4 player co-op missions and free roaming that are available from the beginning, increasingly unlocking more as the player progresses. Although this does not allow you to do the story missions co-op, the side missions offer a lot of scenarios with addition to the feature of customization. The co-op missions add this RPG element of after completing the mission, the player gets the opportunity to gain 1 of 3 pieces of clothing which all crosses over into the single player, with a huge encouragement to replayability. The servers for co-op were extremely rocky for the first opening week, with constant disconnects and crashes, it was a while before co-op became a feature to many. Despite this, the co-op offers a huge amount of missions such as heist, assassination, social club missions, theft, paris stories and murder mysteries, that are all playable on the play style of the brotherhood you may join. This is personally one of my favourite parts of the game, when it actually works.
Overall Assassin’s Creed Unity brings a lot of nourishment and exciting new features into the cards, however is held back by the technical hitches that come from the insane frame rate drops and glitches that it brings. I personally think that Ubisoft aimed for something a lot bigger than the specs that the Playstation 4 and Xbox One could bring, with incredibly stunning graphics and lighting effects and a crazy amount of NPC’s causing the over all gameplay to become extremely choppy and jumpy as the game becomes more up paced. Although Ubisoft are continuing to work on the problems people are having I doubt that this game will mange to perform much better on the next-gen consoles, although definitely still worth a play for the outstanding improvements within the gameplay mechanics that have been made.
Platform reviewed: PS4
Hours played: 12-14
Release Date: 13/11/2014
Platforms available: PC, PS4, Xbox One[review]