OSW Review | Assassin’s Creed: Unity (2014)

Assassin’s Creed: Unity (2014)

OK let’s get this right out of the way. Assassins Creed Unity was utterly broken on release & rightfully suffered poor reviews as a result. Thankfully I received the game as a Christmas present & a major patch (8Gb on PS4 & a whopping 40Gb on XB1) removed all of the game breaking bugs, although there are still a few minor issues. So let’s find out how the first next-gen only Creed game got on.

Developed by Ubisoft Montpellier
Played on PS4
Reviewed by V1

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You play as Arno Dorian, born in Versaille & the son of an Assassin. After your Father is killed by a Templar, your new adoptive family takes you in (they also have ties to the Templars). Unfortunately for Arno, his second adopted father is also murdered when he is unable to deliver an important message. Blaming himself, he sets out to find the people responsible for these murders & finds himself entangled in the Assassins v Templar feud along the way. Torn between his father’s legacy (the assassins) & his love interest/step-sister (Eww!), Arno must play a pivotal role in the revolution trying to solve the murders of his fathers.

Arno’s story is ok. It’s better than Assassins Creed Revelations & better than Creed 3, but that’s hardly something to be all that proud of. It’s a fairly standard revenge tale, with a few twists & turns thrown in for good measure. Alliances jump back & forth & new characters are introduced throughout the story. This hurts the overall narrative, as you’ll spend hours chasing one guy only to find out he was merely a pawn & it’s actually this guy you need to kill now (seriously, this happens about 6 times in the game!). This pattern follows right up until the very end. Arno’s inner turmoil over loyalties towards the Assassins Brotherhood & Elise (a templar) is the most enjoyable aspect of the story. I enjoyed the fresh perspective on the century’s long rivalry, & how it expands the Templars role. They’re more than just “bad guys” now.

This being an Assassins Creed, you are not actually Arno Dorian of course. You are “the player”, at home playing on Abstergo’s Helix Console. You are working for the Assassins to live through Arno’s memories, in order to unearth the position of pieces of Eden hidden throughout Paris. There is only one (the intro) cutscene explaining this, only a few audio snippets at specific points which relay this message to you. Honestly it’s pretty sad. It seems Ubisoft have listened to the vocal minority who hated the modern day sections to Creed games. Unfortunately players like myself, who are invested to the Creed story & have played EVERY game in the series, get completely fucked over as our narrative thread linking all these games, spanning hundreds of years, is simply cut. No questions asked, gimme your money!

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Assassins Creed Unity is a gorgeous looking game. Paris is enormous & absolutely packed with pretty things to look at. Some of the architecture is mind blowing & is clearly the work of a lot of talented people. Ubisoft have also managed to make Paris feel like a living world by filling it with thousands upon thousands of NPCs going about their daily lives. Markets & docklands are busy, whilst castles & churches have massive gatherings outside.
Main character models are amazing looking too. Arno, Elise, Napolean & other main characters are exquisitely detailed & facial animation is just as impressive. Unfortunately it would be impossible to keep this standard across all NPCs & the resulting downgrade is fairly jarring & can ruin the illusion completely. Luckily enough there’s not much interaction with these lesser characters in the main story (mainly in side missions).
While the game-breaking bugs have all been patched out, there are still plenty of little annoyances that somewhat spoil the experience. Frame rate noticeably drops when too much action is going on screen, NPCs have a jitteriness to them that’s pretty strange & they tend to hop every often. Nothing too bad, but it can still ruin the illusion a bit.

Assassins Creed Unity’s voice cast is good but not great. Arno & co do a serviceable job on what’s a fairly average script. There are no standout performances here like in other Ubisoft titles (Jordie in Watch Dogs, Pagain Min/Amita in Far Cry 4), but it’s in line with other Creed games & there’s nothing quite as bad as Conor in AC3. The decision to have everyone speak with English accents, rather than French accents, really annoyed me. What’s strange is Assassins Creed is usually very accurate in this aspect. Ezio spoke with an Italian accent, Altair with a Middle-Eastern accent, so why is Versaille born Arno suddenly from England?
Unity’s soundtrack is very good. It’s suitably epic & definitely fits within the Creed universe, but it doesn’t hit the highs that AC2/3 did. There’s not one song that stuck with me which is surprising because I usually love these soundtracks.

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Assassins Creed Unity plays almost identically to all other Creed games (lots of running, climbing, jumping & stabbing), with a few noticeable additions & one big omission. For one there’s a dedicated parkour down button. This means it’s now easy to stylishly descend the tallest buildings in Paris without having to hop into a bale of hay, or just hope you don’t die from a big fall. This is a fantastic addition to the series, fixing one of the most annoying issues that has plagued the series since AC1. The second biggest addition is the introduction of co-op gameplay for 2-4 players. This lets you run around Paris & do many of the side missions available (although you can’t co-op main story missions). There are also specific multiplayer missions, as well as 4 player heists. Unfortunately Ubisoft has some of the worst online infrastructure in gaming & I could never enter any 4 player heists. I did get to try out some 2 player open world co-op, & I must say that I was unimpressed. The frame rate dropped & the entire experience was laggy.

There’s plenty to do outside of the main story & co-op. Paris is huge & it’s full of side missions & collectibles. There are cockades to collect, hundreds of chests to find & loot, places to discover & viewpoints to sync (just like every Ubisoft game these days!). On top of these there are dozens on “paris stories”. These missions see you meeting up with historic figures & performing tasks for them. These can be tailing missions, clearing out thugs, stealing objects, escort missions etc. These are good fun & a great way to earn in game currency (more on that later). Nostradamus missions have you deciphering riddles to find symbols throughout Paris. My favourite side missions were the murder mysteries. These missions have you inspect murder victims, collect evidence & question witnesses/suspects. You must visit all crime scenes & using all collected evidence, accuse the correct suspect. These missions are clever, fun & my absolute favourite part of Assassins Creed Unity.

Unfortunately there are some negative changes to the game, as well as negative additions. Firstly, Unity is really missing the naval aspects seen in AC3/4. These were some of the highlights of the entire series, & whilst they were beginning to get a bit old they kept the on-foot gameplay from becoming boring. It’s a shame they couldn’t add in even one sailing mission to break up the monotony.

However the most infuriating part of Unity is the addition of a mictr-transaction fuelled levelling up system to your character. Normally you earned more weapons & abilities as you played through the story missions. You could also buy armour to increase health. However Unity has some horrible upgrade systems in place that left my disgusted with Ubisoft. The addition of in game micro-transactions completely ruins the levelling up process. It takes so long to earn money & creed points, that purchasing “helix points” is a quick fix way to get all the best gear. I personally have no problem this option for people who don’t want to spend hours getting all pieces of gear. But I do have a problem with the lengthening of time it takes to earn in game currency. Seriously I’ve already paid for the game, don’t charge me again to “get the most out of it”. This really left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

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Good Points:
• Stunning, enormous world
• Thousands of NPCs on screen
• Amazing character models (for main characters)
• Parkour down buildings
• RPG-style system for gear/weapons
• Co-op missions & open world
• Free DLC (although only because game was broken)

Bad Points:
• Bugs & glitches (mostly patched)
• NPCs looks bad
• Parkour still has problems
• Fucking micro-transactions
• Feels very “Ubisoft”
• Repetitive missions
• Meh story
• Modern day story dropped
• Things locked behind online walls (initiates, uplay etc.)

Overall: Assassins Creed Unity is a disappointment. It’s not a bad game, but I expected more after Black Sails & for a next-gen debut. The gameplay is good, some of the best of the series actually (especially the downwards parkour) & it looks amazing. But these can’t make up for a lack of innovation & the disgusting micro-transactions worming their way into more & more Ubisoft games. 6.5/10

6.5-10 stars


Release Date
March 7, 2015