Review: Assassin’s Creed Unity (Xbox One)
Welcome to Paris, welcome to your life as Tears for Fears (and then Lorde) so succinctly put it. Revolution is in the air and it’s time for you to take a step up and aid the change for a better world. Everybody wants to rule the world, but nothing ever lasts forever.
In Assassin’s Creed Unity you play the part of Arno Dorian. Losing his father at a young age he was brought up by Master Del Laserre and formed a strong bond with his daughter, Elise. But tragedy befalls De LaSerre as he is murdered as the revolution is picking up and Arno is framed for the murder.
A stint in jail introduces Arno to an inmate, who is part of the Assassin’s Creed and he teaches you of your lineage and hidden abilities, while making you realize there is a lot more to the city than you might know. You break out of jail and follow him back, where you train to become the ultimate assassin and exact revenge on those that did you wrong.
The story in Assassin’s Creed is intriguing from the get go, even when Arno is running around in his pyjamas, before becoming an assassin. One road leads to another with some bumps and twists that will keep you guessing and going back for more. It’s as intense as Assassin’s Creed 2 and has a real purpose about it, even if at times there is a bit of a continuity problem.
The story does fall a bit flat at times, but that is completely made up for in terms of the visuals and the detail of the city. Paris is easily the best setting for an Assassin’s Creed game and it was only a matter of time before they located it here. Key landmarks such as Notre Dame look phenomenal, while the different towns you visit each have a certain French suave feeling to them which makes it simply wonderful to explore. The amount of detail that goes into the city is quite possibly the best I have ever seen.
The character models are also done brilliantly (unless bugs intervene) and the main characters look amazing with some of the finest voice acting you will ever hear. The NPC’s are also well designed and the streets are filled to the brim with NPCs which is very impressive… except that many of them look like carbon copies of each other so it does take away some of the effect of having so much on screen.
It also seems to be a main cause for some of the bugs, and there are those aplenty. A few times my framerate dropped so much that I actually thought the game had frozen. I had characters popping out suddenly from nowhere and I fell through the map randomly a couple of times. It was not nearly as bad as other people have made out and/or experienced but it is evidently a problem. Thankfully I didn’t feel like it hampered my experience too much. Load times are also a hindrance but tolerable if you don’t die too much.
The mission structure is very similar to the previous AC games and that’s no surprise seeing as the formula works so well. Main missions will have you playing through sequences which provide a target. You will need to acquire information about the target before planning an assassination. I say planning because that is a bigger part of the missions than ever before.
When you get to the spot to start an assassination you will get a rundown of the area with options of how you want to take things forward. You get a stat sheet on opportunities you can exploit, assists you can get and how many entrances and guards stand in your way. Carefully planning your infiltration and assassination can lead to great results, but that doesn’t mean things won’t go awry and you’ll have to adapt on the spot. This ‘planned-to-adapt’ structure is adrenaline-pumping and makes every main mission a different experience requiring a different strategy.
The sidemissions are numerous and while some are completely pointless, like collecting cockades, others have a bit more bearing which leads to the following section on the upgrade trees. Sidemissions include murder investigations which result in awarding of new weapons, there are Paris stories which are mini quests as given to you by people in the city. There are random mini quests that happen as you run about the city, chests with money and other items to locate, Nostradamus signs to locate and artifacts to find. Each of these will give you some reward which will aid you in improving your skills.
Completing missions gives you the opportunity to upgrade a number of things. You can upgrade and buy new weapons each with a unique combat ability and different animations. You can have one-handed weapons, long weapons, heavy weapons and different guns. Experimenting with them brings about good results as some are more effective at times than others. It keeps the combat very fresh throughout which was a nice surprise considering at the start I found the combat very clunky, not so in the end.
You can also upgrade your clothing and armour and doing so will increase certain abilities linked to your character like melee ability, health and armour all of which are important to succeed. Lastly you can unlock new skills the further you progress. Lockpicking, better stealth ability, combat ability and even things that affect your co-op abilities like sharing eagle vision and the likes. The skill trees are simple to follow and add a certain purpose to completing sidemissions while you play.
The parkour animations, at first, take a bit of getting used to. I initially found the traversal to be a bit too slow and clumsy, but as you move through the game it becomes quite seamless. Not quite as seamless as Sunset Overdrive or Infamous but for the type of traversal it works well and getting around the city is all part of the fun, though it still does feel a bit buggy at times and I got stuck occasionally.
Assassin’s Creed Unity includes, for the first time, a co-op mode. Up to four players can take part in the co-op sessions with unique missions. It works okay with randoms but the real joy is getting together with friends over comms and strategizing how you are going to assassinate the target. The co-op was absolute bliss as we tried to devise ways to take out targets. Some people went all guns blazing while others had a more patient approach. The mission formula is the same as single-player but the mechanics change drastically with more players.
The co-op was so enjoyable that I couldn’t help but feel the game, and the world, are absolutely perfect for a complete co-op experience. Running around the same world with other assassins was incredibly enjoyable and it is easily some of the most online fun I have had in recent times. It’s just so unique that you have to try it out.
AC Unity has definitely got the harsh treatment on release. It’s not even nearly as tainted and poor as people have made out. It definitely has its bugs but none of them are groundbreaking and it is more than made up for with the beautiful city, intriguing story, combat and mission mechanics and all the extras that will keep you busy for a long time. Throw in a bit of co-op action that is tons of fun and you have a well rounded off game.
Perhaps a bit of polish around the edges would have served the game well, but when it comes down to it, it’s still a game well worth playing with plenty of variety and WOW moments. Assassin’s Creed Unity is a good game that you should pick up, especially if you enjoyed any of the previous games. Everybody wants to rule the world, now it’s your turn to do so.