Lucien’s Review: Assassin’s Creed: Unity

Assassin's Creed UnityNow, before we go too far into this, let me say that I didn’t have a lot of the problems that other players did with this game.  The reason is simple – I turned off ALL of the online parts.  For real, do that and the framerate and everything else improves drastically.  Granted, there were some funny glitches, but that has been indicative of all open-world games.  For real, name me one that isn’t.  This is a game that took a lot of heat from people, and while that may be deserved from people who like multiplayer, for us, it doesn’t mean much.  I just wanted to clarify that, for those who were hoping that I am going to tear this game open a new one.  Sorry, but I can’t help you there.  Let’s get down to it.

The plot of this game seems to almost be self-aware, with the Animus this time taking the form of a media device called “Helix.”  The Assassins are literally reaching out to players for help.  I know, that sounds lazy, but part of me kind of admires the self-awareness.  As a recruit Assassin, called “Initiate,” you are tasked with going into the mind of Arno Dorian and seeing through his life.  He is the child of a wealthy man, who befriends a young woman named Elise.  The day he befriends her, however, his father is murdered.  He becomes the ward of Elise’s father, and sees her father get murdered as well.  With blood on his hands and a thirst for revenge, he is recruited by an Assassin named Bellec.  Thus begins his story of revenge against the Templar.  However, he has one major problem.  The young woman he loves, Elise, is a Templar.  What will become of these star-crossed lovers?  Who can say.

On technical alone, this game is an absolute marvel.  The visuals are astounding assuming that you are doing as I am and playing it offline.  Paris comes to life with amazing depth.  The characters are also remarkably improved.  One thing the series has always had difficulty with is rendering faces.  That was not a problem in this game.  The textures, the clothing, there isn’t a thing in this game that doesn’t look positively phenomenal.  However, one cannot judge a game on visuals alone.  If so, this game would get perfect marks.

How are the characters?  After how good Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was, with all the interesting sorts and vibrant personalities, this game…was a bit below that, but not by much.  Arno wasn’t the most terribly-interesting character, yet he was in no way flat.  His relationship with Elise is engaging.  His thirst for revenge putting him at odds with the Brotherhood, and how far he is willing to go in order to get his revenge is interesting.  It does make one wonder how far into the Creed Arno believed.  You also get to meet some of the historical figures of the time period.  Which does lead into another positive point.

One of the thing that past games in this franchise, like Assassin’s Creed III got wrong is when they had the Assassins be at the center of some big cultural revolution.  That wasn’t how they did.  They operated in the shadows, changing history without ever being known for it.  This game captured that.  While your actions do affect parts of the French Revolution, you are still just another player.  You meet several figures of the time, like the Marquis de Sade and Napoleon Bonaparte, but in both cases, you don’t get too especially close.  With the latter, you barely get to know him, as you part in his company comes to an end.  That is actually pretty smart.

Now, what are the problems?  Well, there are several.  For one, there are a lot of really dry characters.  The villains in-particular are among the most forgettable.  Maybe I am just getting greedy in judging the villains based on II and Black Flag.  Both of those games had phenomenal villains that were cathartic to kill.  Though both of those games also had a plot that was engaging.  That is the other problem in this game – the plot happens, and then it ends.  It isn’t especially cathartic, and it culminates in a boss fight that is annoyingly-difficult.  Like, out of nowhere.

The other thing is that this game felt a lot like more of the same.  One of the reasons that people loved Black Flag so much was it went somewhere totally new.  It gave players a new way of exploration, a new setting, and a kind of culture that we were able to get into.  This game felt like a step backwards in a lot of ways.  That in no way says that it is bad.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love to parkour around Paris.  And there were nice touches.

For example – they had these areas in different time periods of Paris.  Like 1800’s Paris, that reminded me a lot of the bright and cheery side of Bioshock Infinite.  They also had Nazi-occupied Paris, with you scaling the Eiffel Tower.  That was awesome!  If only they could have had more things like that.  Those touches were so interesting, and kept me wanting more.  Future games should mix things up like that as well.  It keeps things interesting.

The last thing about this game is that some of the parkour elements were difficult.  This game’s control scheme could get difficult.  This game had a very bad habit of being obstinate at the worst times.  Remember that final boss encounter I mentioned.  That was one of them.  The butter-smooth nature of previous games was a little lacking here, though maybe that was because of the whole stealth aspect.  Which, actually, does work pretty well in this game.  We also would be remiss to mention the system of scaling down buildings.  MAN was that handy.  The descending parkour elements were so intuitive.  It almost made one wonder why the rest of the game couldn’t be this user-friendly.  Getting around is now a lot simpler, when the controls are in a good mood.

Well, that is a lot to take in.  There are a lot of excellent points, and some problems.  What rating do we give this game?  It is very fun, and I am glad that I have gotten to play it.  But all good reviews should be as honest as possible.  I think that I have come to a score that is fair to this game.  Don’t trust all the hype about how problematic this game is.  Ubisoft has released patches, after all.  Maybe it’s too-little, too-late, but I still do like this game.  Take that for whatever you will.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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