Assassin’s Creed: Unity (Xbox One) Review
Ryan Bloom / Jan 13th, 2015 No Comments
Each of the past six years has produced a new main installment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. With each highly anticipated new entry comes loads of potential, but the series has never truly lived up to its lofty expectations.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the latest new-gen entry in the series, once again displays the flashes of brilliance that the series is built on. It is one of the franchise’s shining moments, offering a compelling story and the perfect setting. However, it is still hampered by some of the classic pitfalls of Assassin’s Creed, and it leaves players wanting more.
The Revolution Will Be Televised
Set in Paris during the French Revolution in 1776, Unity provides the perfect backdrop for an Assassin’s Creed title. The tight architecture of the city makes traveling across rooftops accessible, and the struggle for power creates opportunities to interact with both real and fictional historical figures. While political uproar plays out on the streets of France, it also occurs behind the curtain within the Assassin Brotherhood.
The game explores political themes centered around the Revolution, but the plot truly revolves around a more captivating story of main character Arno Dorian. As a child, Arno’s father is murdered and he is taken in by a Templar Grand Master. When his guardian is killed, Arno sets out to find the culprit. Although the tale of revenge has been told thousands of times before, it makes for a more personal story than previous Assassin’s Creed games, and it is moved along by Arno’s attempts to balance a forbidden love with Elise, the daughter of his Templar Grand Master guardian.
Typical of the series, Assassin’s Creed Unity has a tie-in with the modern world. The player is treated as a gamer accessing memories of the past, and these memory sequences are sometimes broken. This creates some dynamic gameplay moments — including climbing up the Eiffel Tower, which did not exist in 1776 — but the random occurrences take away from the overall experience. Much like these events interrupt memories, they also interrupt immersion, reminding gamers that they are merely playing a video game.
The DNA of an Assassin
Unity does not stray from the gameplay formula laid out by Arno’s ancestors, but there are some minor tweaks, for better and for worse. Parkour is much smoother, making traversing buildings enjoyable. A new freerun down action allows players to quickly make their way down structures in a way more fitting of an assassin. However, parkour still lacks precision, and Arno will sometimes miss his target.
Freerunning is not the only gameplay mechanic suffering from a lack of precision. The franchise has yet to perfect air assassinations, which too easily attack incorrect targets or fails to identify multiple enemies. Rewarding cutscenes are instead replaced by unnecessary battles due to the faulty fickle targeting system.
Unlike the assassins of the past, Arno is not fully equipped with the tools necessary to be a master assassin. Many of his skills and abilities are hidden behind a microtransaction-style purchasing system. This takes away from the overall experience and makes Arno feel like a less effective assassin at the start of the game. Skills that were previously available from the start — including hiding within a crowd on a bench, using firearms, and double assassinations — are now locked behind microtransactions. Even unlocking some in-game items requires gamers to play the Assassin’s Creed mobile app.
Templars in Paris
Paris has long deserved an Assassin’s Creed game. Rich in history and political strife, the city is tailor-made for the franchise. From the historic cathedrals such as Notre Dame to the lavish palaces like the Louvre, the beautiful architecture of Paris is recreated in a way that is easy to traverse. Sync points give players beautiful, sweeping views of the city.
Unity was built specifically for new-gen consoles, and that is made apparent by detailed cutscenes. Bugs that affected the game at release have mostly been fixed, and characters are extremely lifelike. However, the game’s attention to detail results in excessively long loading times. Not only can booting up the game take time, but cutscenes and fast traveling also start the waiting game.
Performance issues that plagued the game at release have been fixed, but Unity still suffers from the occasional Assassin’s Creed glitch. At times, Arno will get stuck in weird areas or float in the air while attempting to scale buildings. These issues are no longer excusable, especially for a series with yearly installments.
Like most games in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Unity has so much potential. Microtransactions and the desperate mobile game tie-in ensure the game does not live it up to expectations. However, Arno’s story is riveting, and minor gameplay tweaks go a long way in improving the Assassin’s Creed formula. Assassin’s Creed: Unity is not quite as good as Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, but it is one of the best entries in the series.
tags: Assassin's Creed Unity , Assassin's Creed Unity Review , assassins creed , ubisoft , Ubisoft Montreal , xbox one