Release Date: November 11, 2014
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Ubisoft hasn’t given the Assassin’s Creed series a break, with at least one new title being released per year. And why should they? They’ve amassed a loyal fan base and make tons of money with each new installment. Assassin’s Creed Unity is the latest game in the franchise, and with it the introduction of several new new features. Gone are the previous two games’ emphasis on ship sailing and sea exploration. Instead, Unity brings the series back to its roots with a beautifully recreated 18th century Paris, full of monumental buildings on which to jump, climb and clamber.
The game puts you in the shoes of Arno Victor Dorian, a young French lad who’s accused of murdering his stepfather. Unity tells a story of Arno’s pursuit of justice with the goal of finding his stepfather’s killer. There’s also the obligatory love interest and the overdone master-pupil sub-plot. It’s all fairly forgettable. In addition, the game mostly does away with the modern-time story line that accompanied every mainline Assassin’s Creed game. If you enjoyed those segments, then prepare to be disappointed because they’ve been massively downsized to play a smaller role.
Combat has seen little change since the previous games, with parrying still a key component to winning skirmishes. However, enemies will no longer wait around to attack you one at a time. They will strike at you relentlessly to the point that being ambushed by several guards can be tough to deal with. Thankfully, the game offers numerous items and methods to help you flee when things get hairy.
Unity‘s campaign puts much more emphasis on assassinations than previous versions, with entire missions simply being a sandbox full of tools and methods to kill the target. These are nice and all, but they also felt unbalanced in a way that taking the time to prepare for the grand assassination seemed wasteful. In several missions, I took 15 to 20 minutes carefully planning out my kill only to be spotted by guards and put down. Frustrated, I retried the missions by running straight toward the target and assassinating them in a minute or two. The fact that this actually worked left me more disappointed than proud.
Each game in the series attempted to introduce a new feature into the fray, and Unity is no different. Online co-op is now in! Now I know what you’re thinking, “Oh boy, I can now explore Ubisoft’s gorgeously-rendered cities with my friends!” Don’t get too excited, because it’s not as well-executed as we all had hoped. Co-op is only limited to a few missions scattered around the city like any other side-quests, and they mostly boil down to moving from point A to point B, fighting off any enemies that halt your mindless parkouring. These missions require little to no teamwork, and from my playtime of the game, connection issues made starting these a chore. Speaking of gaming issues, Unity is chock full of them. Glitches like colliding through walls and floors have not been shy to reveal themselves during my play-through, and the game’s frame rate is sometimes just a frame or two short of becoming a slideshow.
All in all, I can’t say the 13 hours or so it took me to play through Assassin’s Creed Unity wasn’t worthwhile. Even after the completion of the main story, the game is full of various side quests that can further occupy the players’ time. Unity‘s recreation of 18th century Paris is a joy to explore and marvel at, and the focus on pure assassinations is a welcome return to roots that reminded me why I adore the series. However, the unbalanced missions, the heavily touted co-op mode being less-than-stellar, and the poor technical performance of the game make it difficult to call it a must-play, especially to those who aren’t a fan of the franchise. Oh well, there’s always next year.
Final Verdict: Rent
This is the most enjoyable Assassin’s Creed game since 2010’s Brotherhood, but the removal of the competitive multiplayer in favor of the uninspired co-op missions means less reasons to keep playing the game after finishing the main story. Furthermore, the abundant amount of technical issues the game is filled with make it difficult to recommend this game for purchase.