When the first Assassin’s Creed came out, I admit to being really excited and equally let down upon its arrival. I found it incredibly easy to make fun of the shortcomings in the game. I even found it easier to ignore the follow-ups. Well ignore is a strong word, more like I played them a bit until I got bored. It wasn’t until I played Assassin’s Creed III that I felt like this was the game I was excited for all those years ago. Maybe the setting, the characters, or the gameplay overall is what did it for me. Whatever it was it catapulted me into a frenzy of excitement when Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was announced. After all this one had freakin’ PIRATES!!! Of course, commanding a ship for the better part of the game and sailing the deep oceans blue didn’t hurt my growing love for the series.
However, when Unity was announced I felt… well I’m not sure what I felt. It wasn’t excitement, but it wasn’t disappointment either. It was more along the lines of “meh”. In all honesty, I was completely afraid I was now done with the series. Again they just had a game, to me, that was damn near perfect. It had freakin’ PIRATES, in case you didn’t know. So what would Unity need to do in order for me to feel as if I needed this new entry into the mega franchise? Simple really. It would have to retain the level of fun, multitude of things to do, and offer up a story I would find myself compelled to progress through. Could Ubisoft continue to deliver on those aspects they exhaustively advanced on with each installment? The answer might surprise you.
Set during the French Revolution, you play as Arno Dorian–ladies man, scoundrel, and orphan. Arno is literally unlike any assassin we’ve played as before. In the beginning he literally is a devil without a care. He doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a man without a care in the world, save his affections towards a woman. Things are a bit unique between Arno and his ladylove, but I won’t spoil it for you. Things get really dicey at one point in the game and Arno goes from man with no to burden him to a man who is ready to put the toys away and play with the big boys. This is probably one of my most favorite parts of the game.
A lot of people complained about Black Flag and how Edward just sort of knew everything about being an assassin without any training. Well complain no more. You will train Arno, see the ritual all beginning assassins go through, and shape Arno into the assassin you want him to be. This is really key to the franchise, as before sure you could upgrade your characters, certain aspects around them, and even acquire rare items to make yourself a more efficient assassin. Here however, you will literally have base skills to roam through to achieve you missions, but certain skills are only unlocked once you acquire the right amount of Assassin Points (which you can only achieve by completing certain missions) and playing through certain sequences first. For example, one such trait (I’ve had more than my fair share of fun with) is disguising yourself as the enemy to surpass certain areas without alerting the enemy. Felt very Mission Impossible like and to me that only further increased my enjoyment of the improved stealth aspect of the gameplay.
With the categories laid out for Melee, Stealth, Health, and Ranged Weapons you are able to make Arno become a truly remarkable assassin. In addition to these RPG elements you also have weapons, equipment, and boosts you are able to unlock for various forms of currency in the game. The only downside to this for me was the amount of different currency you have in the game when it comes to your skill tree. Your money is used for everything as far as consumables, weapons, and clothing, which is really par for the course. Your Assassin Points are as explained earlier, what you use to upgrade your specific skills. But then you also have Creed Points and Helix Points. Creed Points you accumulate just by doing something as simple as and aerial assassination, Helix Points are from various other sorts. However they both do the same thing; they allow you to upgrade your equipment. It takes more Creed Points to upgrade something than Helix points but that’s beside the point. I wish almost in a way, that you could take the Creed Points and after accumulating a certain amount, trade those in for Assassin Points, but I digress.
Outside of that small complaint, I have to admit the combat system at first annoyed me. I think a lot of it had to do with the more direct brutal almost animalistic combat of III and IV I was still expecting. After I jumped in and started upgrading and advancing Arno, the combat became a refreshing style of finesse. It was with this finesse, I started loving the combat. I was walking around just picking fights for hours with anyone who would fight me. Maybe part of me always wanted to learn fencing and that’s why I enjoyed it so, or maybe fencing has always been that badass, either way after each kill I felt myself wanting to swish the controller in front of my face as if holding the sword myself and say “take that b…..” Maybe I should get out more.
Aside from the fresh take on the combat system, there’s also an enjoyable advancement to the parkour system in the game. In the past it always felt as if you were locked in going up to higher ground to escape your adversaries. Which occasionally resulted in some humorous free-fall moments. Now however, you have the option of running and staying on the ground, sliding under tables, leaping over tables but always staying rooted to the ground. This new feature, in addition to running up and over, has increased the fun aspect of traipsing all over the massive open world. Speaking of, the amount of things to do in this open world adventure is just that, it’s massive. Random criminals will be doing shakedowns on innocent peasants, or people stealing things that don’t belong to them all sound very typical, but sometimes you will have specific missions popup for you to do just because you are in the area. I remember something a friend of mine said a long time ago about gaming open worlds. Each time they feel more and more alive, like the world was just moving along even if you aren’t there. I can say I understood what he meant then, and Assassin’s Creed Unity delivers a living environment with the best of them.
Graphically, Unity is a beautiful game. There are a few instances of pop-in, and the occasional “why is that character doing that to that wall” moments, but they never truly feel like they detract from the experience or narrative of the game. There’s not a lot of dead space as we have experienced before, and the people–God the people. These city streets are packed. Sure previous entries have had their fare share of NPCs filling up the streets, but in Unity it is pretty close to how I would imagine, and it is fantastic. Much like the graphics, there’s nothing to worry about with the soundtrack or vocal performances. Everything here just seems to fit together in a nice neat package.
The online play is quite interesting as well. Joining up to three other friends for various narrative specific events (I mean you get to stop executions at the last minute à la Robin Hood style) is a lot of fun, but adding in heists and various other gameplay aspects for you and your ruthless band of assassins is a whole other thing. I can’t wait to see what else we have in store with this type of online gameplay, as I never truly felt like the previous online functionality really appealed to the assassin in us all.
While I was not on board with Assassin’s Creed Unity from the announcement to the moment I started playing, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the level of enjoyment I have consistently had with the title. It all feels like this is my assassin right from the very beginning of the game. While this was not something I have been asking for, I am most certainly excited to see where things progress with future installments. Who knows, maybe I will eventually be able to be the assassin in the game… told you I might need to get out more.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.3 Graphics
Beautiful game to look at, even with a few minor hiccups. 4.0 Control
There’s a lot of give and take in the beginning that develops as you play. 4.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Superb as usual in this franchise. 4.7 Play Value
There are tons of things to do in the game, with even more in the multiplayer and side quests. Hours of play long after you think you are done. 4.4 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best