Ubisofts big release onto the next generation consoles for the Assassin’s Creed franchise entitled, for short, AC Unity, has come under some fire. The game has some bugs in it and in general, while it looks fantastic, seems to not have fully gone through the playtesting that it should have and feels like it was kind of rushed to market. We are not sure why considering it wasn’t a really a console release game. Despite the bugs, the lag, and sometimes confusing storyline, the game truly does look beautiful and when all things are said and done, this is another chapter in the AC universe that can be enjoyable to play.
We don’t want to destroy the game just because of the fact it has a really bad frame rate, but it does. We have been playing the game exclusively on the Xbox One and there are times that it bogs down to a complete stop and that just isn’t good. Word has it out there on the internet that the PlayStation 4 also suffers from the same issue and ultimately it is our belief this just has to do with the fact that this is new hardware and it is the first run on things. Being a software developer myself, there are times that when you run things on your machine during development, it runs flawless, even when you feel you have everything properly setup to mimic what you think is the lowest of the low out there in the world. Sadly though this just always prove to be a 100% shot at it and you usually end up with something just not working right. However, we are dealing with consoles here and leaving the PC world alone, there really isn’t an excuse to these issues considering everything is locked down and the same when it comes to the hardware. Anyway, that is our major issue with the game. We got it out of the way so we can now go ahead and review a bit more of the supermassive title.
As we mentioned before, AC Unity is a really beautiful game. Actually it is down right gorgeous. You can tell that whatever Ubisoft wanted to do, one of the main things was to make sure you saw how pretty the world can look, along with how fantastic you look as well. The water looks watery, the buildings look like they have been around a long time with their wear and tear but at the same time, the buildings that have upkeep look spacious and well kept. The citizens of the world are abundant and they are much smarter than before. They get in your way, they flee with something goes down, and there are many of them. WAY more than what you had in the previous games. Updating the look of your player, Arno, is one really nice update. Besides being able to choose a decent color pattern now of your choice, you also are able to expand upon the various elements of your outfit. For example you can increase your stealthiness as you walk amongst the citizens of the world by changing the hood you wear. You can increase your melee attack by upgrading what you wear on your forearms causing for a much nicer blow to your enemies face if it comes down to hand to hand combat.
On top of being able to upgrade your wearables, you can also choose directly weapons of choice as you progress along through the storyline. You won’t need to head to a blacksmith or store of some sort this time around, instead you can just hit the pause button, open up the character customization screen and choose that sword or mace you have been dying to try out which is super nice because you don’t have to run or sail all over the visibly mapped world to get what you want. On top of that, you can choose which extra tactics you want to upgrade as well. Meaning if you don’t want to use the smoke bomb option in your little bag of assassin’s tricks, you don’t have to. Instead you can go the cherry bomb route and use that to lure your enemies to a spot in which you can easily dispatch them one by one. Of course all of these options come at a price. As you progress through the game you earn money, or because we are in France, you earn Francs. You can use this to purchase the above items. As you try to purchase some skills, you will need to use Assassin Points which essentially only becomes available as you complete storyline missions in the game. I can see where Ubisoft may have been going with this to try and give players to customize their world as much as they would like, but I kind of get a feeling that it doesn’t quite fulfill the desire that was there during their planning stages. If all of that doesn’t work out nicely for you, then you can always pay real world cash, or hacking points, that will allow you to buy the items in the game for basically half the cost. It’s nice if you just want to level up, but I kind of don’t like this outside transaction thing. I’d rather earn it in game than just pay for it upfront and have all of the glory.
As with all AC games, there are tons of side missions within the game and of course one of the main ones that we all know and love are the treasure chests. Finding those and opening them up for some cash is always nice. This time though there have been a few changes. For starters you are able to explore for chests inside of the many buildings in the game giving you a chance to see the beauty of what has been hiding behind all of those doors and windows you have been clamboring over for so long. They’ve updated your ability to open some of these chests by needing you to open some with a lockpicking skill and even then you won’t be able to get all of them due to the way the game mechanic works and your level. This is fine, but sometimes is kind of a bummer because I tend to not come back to a chest after I’ve found it once and wasn’t able to open it for some reason. The bad part about all of this though is that for other chests, which are all color coded on the map, you cannot open them unless you use the outside worlds companion app to be found on your iOS or Android tablet. Don’t get me started on why there isn’t any Windows companion app but because I don’t have one of their supported operating systems, I’ll never be able to open these treasure chests up. This annoys me greatly.
The controls in the game have been upgraded so that you can now attempt to fluidly run and parkour better in the world by using the combination of the A button to move upward or B button to move downward in conjunction with the trigger button. While this is really nice, especially if you are moving down off of a high roof, sadly sucks when the game has been tweaked to have you latch on to everything and anything. What we are attempting to say here is that as you are moving across the surface of a building, you can get stuck trying to go onto a porch or attempting to move into a building because the code is trying to make everything seamless and can’t quite figure out what to do. Thus you can be trying to run after someone only to find yourself circling around a window that you need to get into as they get away without a hitch. In addition, with the new cover mechanic that allows you to sneak around the world crouched, you can cover to walls. Sadly, you cannot move around corners, forcing you to detach from the wall making you suddenly become visible and messing up that whole sneak and kill thing you were attempting to do. This has been frustrating a number of times and I think Ubisoft was trying to make things wonderful, I think they may want to tone down the “attach to everything” slider just a bit.
Besides your normal missions in which you need to kill someone to progress along the storyline, Ubisoft has opened things with their promise of revamping this. Essentially you are given a large square in the world and told “see that place over there...go kill the person who is gold”. Which is fine and to me is nice because it allows me to do whatever I want. Meaning I won’t be thrown off course by the game knocking me out or making restart if I went out of bounds. Instead I can freely go after those ever so delightful collectables you happen upon as you move through the world and usually forget about because you end up being far away from them when the game allows you to go open world sandbox mode. The side missions you get range from solving murders, to other assassinations, to even finding a few severed heads for Madame Tussaud. Fun stuff if you just want to kill time and do some more running around and randomly killing anyone in your path. They are all bad guys of course so don’t frown upon the fact you can just kill anyone. It’s the game and it’s fun to slide a knife into someone picking a fight with someone that can’t defend themselves.
The other new big item with AC Unity is the word “Unity” itself. Meaning that if you are one of those people who like to game alone, then you are going to be slightly disappointed as you can only get certain items in the game by doing co-op missions. These missions involve you running into heavily guarded buildings and killing specific targets, looking for various clues and items before you kill someone, or a few other types of missions basically doing the same thing. One of the things you can do to your character is upgrade their abilities that can be shared by all of those who play with you in a mission. You can have an ability that will create a cache of items that all of your teammates can use or you can share your Eagle Vision allowing everyone to see what you are seeing at that time. If feels a bit slow at times and I am not sure if this is just server lag issues or framerate issues, but it was apparent the few times I played and it kind of hindered things a bit. Not bad, but not super good either.
Overall Assassins Creed Unity has a lot of stuff in it. Ubisoft seems to have tried to take everything they thought would make it better but instead kind of pushed out the same stuff on a new set of hardware and made it pretty. To us, it seems that there have been much better AC’s in the past and this one doesn’t do the series justice. If you like the AC franchise, then this game will not disappoint, but if you’re looking for something fantastic to be used on your new piece of hardware, you may be a little disappointed due to the amount of bugs in the game and uber stickiness of various features that don’t really play well and remove some of the fluidity of the game. I believe Ubisoft will put out a few patches here and there to clean up a lot of the complaints, but unfortunately I think by the time they do that and learned from the mistakes, they may have lost a few people or at the very least make the AC die hards a bit worried that the next title that comes out, will be just as broken and forever in a downward spiral leaving the AC legacy at the bottom of the bargain basement game bin at your local thrift shop.
2.5 out of 5 widows.