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Ubisoft’s motto: If it’s broke, don’t fix it!

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    Assassin’s Creed Unity

    Rating: 3.0 – Fair

    Ubisoft’s motto: If it’s broke, don’t fix it!

    Ubisoft had the bright idea to release not one, but TWO Assassin’s Creed games on the same day this year. I played through Rogue before touching Unity, and Rogue was absolute nightmare to play. I consider it the worst game in the series to date. Unity is a significant improvement from Rogue, but it’s still not a good game and it still doesn’t even come close to the heights that the series has reached in the past.

    Assassin’s Creed: Unity is set during the French Revolution. Players control Arno, an assassin caught up in the seemingly endless conflict between the assassins and templars. As far as AC protagonists go, Arno is definitely one of the better and more interesting ones. The supporting cast is fairly weak and not very interesting, with the exception of Elise, but overall I would hold Arno up there close to Ezio. He certainly doesn’t surpass Ezio and he’s definitely not Ezio’s equal, but Arno is definitely better than the crap protagonists that have been shoved down our throats since Assassin’s Creed III.

    The game ditches the open world sailing that was introduced in ACIV in favor of just allowing the players to explore Paris. I like this as I find the sailing in ACIV and Rogue to be dreadfully boring. Unity shares more in common with Assassin’s Creed II in this regard, and in other ways as well. The side content actually feels different and worthwhile in Unity, which has been something that the franchise has struggled with greatly in recent iterations.

    Unity makes significant improvements to the core gameplay. Traversal, while still not perfect (you will find yourself cursing at the screen trying to get through some windows), is much less frustrating. The combat system borrows some cues from the Batman: Arkham games, and is better for it. There is actually a button you can press now to sneak, which makes the stealth mechanics more enjoyable overall.

    So, Unity definitely takes steps in the right direction. It ditches the "modern times" gameplay segments as well, which is greatly appreciated as they are typically boring as all hell in past games. That being said, there’s still some surprises for AC vets, and Unity goes in a few directions that I don’t think anyone would have expected it to, which keeps the game engaging from a gameplay standpoint.

    The first Assassin’s Creed had more of a focus on the actual act of assassination, and that was sort of lost in the sequels that followed. Unity has major assassination missions that feel a lot more like the original design of the assassinations from the first AC game. However, it’s more streamlined and less annoying. Players have optional bonus objectives that they can choose to go after which will make the assassination cooler and not as difficult. This makes the assassinations feel more significant than before, and so this is another area where Unity makes progress for the AC games.

    So, where does it stumble? Unity is an unpolished mess. Glitches are everywhere you look and will rip you out of the immersion of the game in an instant. Crowds of people will have their feet sink through the ground like there’s invisible quicksand there, others will appear out of nowhere and walk through walls, the body parts of dead enemies will twitch about like they’re having seizures. It’s sad how glitchy this game is, especially considering Ubisoft could have delayed it and put out a game that was much better if they didn’t force these annual release schedules for the franchise on their developers.

    Another disappointing area of the game is the story. Arno and Elise are the only engaging characters in the entire narrative. Enemies are introduced and then immediately disposed of, and the game lacks a strong central villain. The story arc that the series has been dealing with since the first Assassin’s Creed takes mere babysteps in Unity. I can’t say I’m surprised, but I’m getting sick of just being jerked around by the Ubisoft writers. There needs to be progression, and I’m simply not seeing it.

    Another area where the game completely drops the ball is the co-op. The name "Unity" is because players are able to play together with up to four people to complete co-op missions. The co-op missions are boring and you have to get pretty far into the game before you can even get access to them. Good luck finding enough friends with this game that aren’t busy playing many of the other (much better) titles that have come out in the last month as well.

    Unity is a fairly massive game. It has a large open world that has a ton of stuff to do. Despite my issues with the co-op, it’s at least there and doesn’t intrude on the typical single player AC experience much at all. That being said, the glitches and lack of polish make exploring this content quite the headache at times.

    Assassin’s Creed: Unity is not a good game. It’s merely passable, but I like a lot of the ideas here. It seems that the developers are finally listening to the fans, and that shows through some of the changes and tweaks to the formula here that make Unity a much more enjoyable experience overall. If it spent more time in the oven, then this could’ve been a major return to form for the AC franchise.

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