Assassin’s Creed introduced us to a mysterious world and a unique stealth/action gameplay that became a worldwide phenomenon. Assassin’s Creed II gave us the iconic dual hidden blade, unforgettable characters, and a polished control so smooth that you’d think the first game was a go-kart to a real car. It’s sequel Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood let us recruit assassin’s to our aid and expanded the game with management and resources. It also added a multiplayer which I personally adored, and one of the most fun puzzle quest I’ve ever played. And the final in the trilogy, Assassin’s Creed: Revelation had a kick-ass story, the lovable hook blade, and an arsenal of weapons so large that it has not yet been surpassed.
And kicking off the 7th generation of console games was Assassin’s Creed III. Which had some of the best modern day missions, a new hunting mechanic, naval battle, and large traversable open-worlds that you can climb, jump, and run through. Let’s not forget Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which expanded the naval battles, open-world, combat mechanic, hunting, and having some of the best, most interesting side missions in the series, while adding pirates and a touching stories of friendship to complete the epic game.
Now, be amazed as the latest, next-generation game in the franchise, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, completely takes a shit on all of the great improvements made before and strip the game down to it’s bare minimum, while Ubisoft simultaneously punches all their loyal fans in the nut-sacks and piss on our souls.
In Assassin’s Creed, you play as a modern day character, playing as a historical assassin from the past. This was the case from Assassin’s Creed 1 – 4, and worked well in giving a much needed depth to the storyline where the whole fetch quest seemed more relevant than it was. In Unity however, you are playing as you. Not some fictional character of interest, but you.
The modern day storyline was replaced with video chats between the modern day Assassin’s and the Initiate (that’s you), and the modern day missions and world was switched with short mission sequences in WWII Paris and what I assume to be the 100 Years War, both way better settings that the French Revolution in my opinion. It’s hard to explain, but without the deeper modern storyline aspect of the game, Unity felt empty, almost boring in its lore. It was as if a key part that made Assassin’s Creed Assassin’s Creed was missing.
You play as Arno Dorian, an Ezio Auditore rip off, right down to the face and personality. And throughout the whole game, his sole mission is to make-up for some mistake that’s not really his so that his girlfriend/crush/sister, Élise de la Serre would like him again. It’s a better love story than Twilight, sure, but it is also incredibly shallow. It’s almost impossible to connect with the characters, and not just because they have natural supermodel looks, but their agendas differs so far from the battle between Assassins and Templar, the central focus of all AC games, that you feel like you’re playing a side quest the whole time.
Granted, given the game’s myriad of problems, the main storyline managed to stand out as relatively interesting and the only thing that made the game playable, in my honest opinion. It’s no Shakespeare, but it gets the job done. Though most of the time, and I can’t reiterate this enough, it feels more like a side quest than anything, and you end up running around the mission doing Point A to Point B stuff.
This is where I get to the writing. In all previous Assassin’s Creed games, you could see and feel the improvements made to the gameplay. Be it the addition of double hidden blades, naval battles, grenades, or even better horses. In Unity, it feels like the entire game went back to the stone age. The famous Leap of Faith of the Assassin’s has been almost completely removed in favour of controlled decent down buildings. Really, boring, controlled decent. I can literally count the number of times I performed a Leap of Faith in the game. 26, if you wanted to know. Yes, controlled decent is all well and good, but removing the amount of in-game haystacks and other fast travel mechanics so drastically have seriously dampened the free-running aspect, leaving the general movement from point A to point B incredibly dull and slow.
One of the greatest thing touted by Ubisoft for Unity was how massive the crowds would get, numbering in the thousands. Good news on this part is that they held up their end of the bargain. Bad news, having thousands of NPC standing in your way as you try to run away from guards really gets old after the first three times. Not to mention that with crowds as prominent as they are, hiding spots in Unity become obsolete, basically removing hiding spots as an aspect of the game. As large as the world may be, with its 1:1 scale of Paris, the crowd managed to did the exact opposite of what it was meant to do, and you could feel the freedom of the game being squeezed right out of you.
The controls are beyond clunky. What used to be a smooth fighting system that scaled with your personal skills has turned into a slow, tedious, boring, beat-em-up that makes you want to claw your eyes out as you fight. While free-running, more often than not, you will find yourself stuck for absolutely no reason. Failing to climb into a window or down a ladder is maddeningly common. Within the first hour of playing the game, I glitched into a haystack and could not remove myself from it. Imagine, they’ve removed haystacks to the point where I’ve only used them 26 times, and yet I could still glitch twice. That is a 7.6% chance of glitching! That is no small number.
And while the double-assassination made famous by Assassin’s Creed II still exist, it is infuriatingly slow, since Arno only uses one hidden blade instead of two, making the kills last twice as long, giving you more time to get spotted in a stealth game. Oh. Did I mention that the targeting system in Unity is completely messed up? You could have two enemies standing within kissing distance and still not be allowed to perform a double-assassination.
Finally, there’s the map. Oh my god, is the in-game map terrifying. This is what the map looks like after I’ve cleared 50% of the side quest.
That is a seizure inducing amount of information. My eyes literally hurt so badly that I only ever open up the map when I really, really needed it. And I am not misusing the word literally here. I would also like to point out that half of those icons are useless to me. The large, red, hexagonal ones are multiplayer missions, which I do not want to play. While the blue treasure chests are called nomad chests, which are inaccessible to me unless I download the Unity Companion App onto my phone, as the game prompts me to do at every chance it gets, and play the game on my phone while I play the game on my console while-seriously, fuck that shit.
Do you want me to keep going? Because I can keep going? What about the in-game store that asks me to purchase in-game money with real money to unlock equipments that should be free to begin with in a FULL PRICED GAME? Or the fact that there is actually 3, THREE fucking different kinds of in-game currency? From the free French currency to Helix points, to whatever that last thing was and OH MY GOD! I can’t believe I’m still talking about that piece of crap system!
What about the fact that you can no longer dive when in the water? Or the fact that no matter what equipments you get or how good you are, you can be easily killed because the combat system is so unresponsive and the fighting HUD is shit? How about the puzzle missions, which in previous games, allowed you to unlock a powerful armour, while in Unity, it gives a useless outfit that is basically a colour swap of another free outfit? Maybe the bonus item collection missions? In previous games, you get secret cut-scenes, cool outfits, nice capes. In Unity, after collecting 100 cockade, you can unlock a beyond useless colour swap for your armour that is purchasable in previous games! Of course, that is only if the freaking counter for the cockade did not glitch and decides to not give you the colour swap at all! Or what about the fact that my game crashed or glitched 5 times within the first 4 hours of playing it? OH MY GOD! I AM GOING TO PUNCH SOMEONE!
One word. “Rehashed”. If there was an original score in Unity, I did not hear it, or it was in such an insignificant portion that I could not care less about it. Listen to the soundtrack yourself and see if you can spot anything new. It is forgettable, and does not have the impact of the previous games.
Sea shanties in AC: IV? Forget about it in Unity. Neat background music sang by the citizens? Be ready to listen to the national anthem of France, Marseillaise, on repeat, even though it was not adopted as the national anthem yet by the game’s timeline.
This might almost seem like nitpicking at this point, but I want to point out that on my PS4, the graphics were amazing. Sharp, crisp, detailed, and realistic. But my eyes still hurt for one simple reason. The bloody colour palette.
That image is the exact colour you will be looking at for roughly 90% of the game. Every tree that you see is a miracle, and any shop painted in any colour other than worn out white is a sight for sore eyes. Even when the lighting changes, it either becomes a full sea of vomit red or blinding white. It literally hurt my eyes. As in, I literally got a headache and had to look outside because the colour was so dull.
The buildings looks the same. In fact, it’s next to impossible to tell one part of Paris to the next. I swear, even some of the landmarks looked the same. The texture used, the positioning of windows or grates or chimneys or whatever. Everything is virtually the same for as far as the eyes can see. I never thought it was possible to be the most graphically advance game I’ve ever played and yet, still be terrible at the graphics. In fact, in-game, this is literally what you will be looking at.
It’s about as cliché as it gets. I feel that Ubisoft, with it’s one title a year and the simultaneous release of Rogue really did a number on the game’s story. Long gone were the days where you could be shocked by the plot twists and endings, or touched by the human connection (Seriously, Black Flag is awesome). Now, it’s just two supermodel with the most Romeo and Juliet love story in the series.
The modern day story has been dumped to the equivalent of those cheap, China-made mobile cash grab. In the game, you are playing as you, an Assassin’s Initiate, who is playing as Arno. The story basically goes, we need your help, here’s some stuff that could help. But give us money to help you, help us. And there’s something about playing a single player game with friends and stuff. Fuck that multiplayer that I could never get to work.
I have enjoyed many hours playing Assassin’c Creed 1-4, and have bought all the games on their release dates. I even finished Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines. I have a limited edition AC III with a Connor figurine that I proudly place on my nightstand, and I’ve played Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag so hard that if I did it any harder, it would get pregnant. Yet, Unity has managed to single handedly made me rethink about whether or not I want to support the franchise. I might not even play Assassin’s Creed: Rogue. Even if I were to buy the next instalment, it would no longer be on the initial release.
This is a game that has damaged the trust of its fan base. And Ubisoft had become a company that took a flaming dump on us with its money grabbing tactics. I cannot, for the love of anything, recommend Unity to anyone who wants it to be their first game in the franchise. In fact, I can’t recommend it to anyone who is already part of the fanbase. Seriously though, you miss absolutely nothing by not playing it. It is, by far, the most half-assed AAA title I have ever played. And I’ve played a lot of games.
In fact, this review was supposed to be longer and released earlier, but I couldn’t bare to keep writing about how boring the game was and decided, just like the game itself, to leave the review half-assed.