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Assassin's Creed: Unity Review

Assassin's Creed: Unity Review

Unity is an unfortunate example of what happens when a franchise goes stale. All that this new entry presents is further proof that Assassin’s Creed needs to shift gears quickly, before it becomes a parody of itself. This first next-gen only offering had a chance to change things in a big way but instead we’re given a sometimes broken, constantly frustrating experience that fixes none of the small problems that have plagued the series for years. Instead Ubisoft has opted to add larger crowds, co-op and more 1:1 scale models of buildings. All of this while actually managing to break a few other things along the way.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity, at its heart, is still the open-world, action-adventure game you’ve been used to. But there appears to be an attempt to move the game out of its simple pick-up-and-play nature with the new animation system. It’s obvious immediately that animations are more fleshed out and complex, this brings with it many tiny changes to the way the game flows. Combat now feels heavier and more weighty. The counter move has now changed to only a tiny fraction of a second leading to many frustrating hits. After getting used to this the new heavy combat felt good and the new gruesome finishers really make you feel like an all powerful assassin.

Assassins Creed Unity Environment Climbing 166326

The downside to this is that the game becomes much slower and extremely cumbersome. This may be due to the many, many issues affecting the game at the moment. Several fights were lost on low health due to my button press just not being registered. This happened numerous times throughout the campaign and co-op, on top of falling through the world mid-mission causing me to restart everything again, enemies apparently being able to spy me behind walls, not to mention awful framerate drops in some areas. This all leads to a far less than satisfactory experience that literally had me pulling my hair and slamming my controller on the desk.

The biggest problem, outside of the technical issues, is the story. Boring, bland and repetitive missions had me praying for the narrative to finish. One moment in the main story I was actually saying out loud “No, please don’t make me do what I know you’re going to make me do... Fuck sake.” Plenty of times I was unable to actually believe the generic story design this game throws out. It seems that more attention was paid to making the city of Paris come alive, than there was figuring out how our hero fits in. Arno, is the same as every other Assassin’s Creed lead before him. Literally. He looks identical to them all.

Assassins Creed Unity Customization 166322

The story is one of petty revenge and is a bore from start to finish. None of the Templar characters are around long enough for you to understand why you must murder them. Nothing is really explained except that ‘the Templars are bad people and we need to stop them ruining France. Oh and they murdered someone. Now, get revenge. How they actually fit in is never fully explained, they just happen to be doing everything bad in Paris. There is a love interest that has more balls than Arno does, as he runs around like a love-sick puppy after her making sure she doesn't get herself killed. The whole thing is done very cack handedly and it was a great relief to finish.

Paris is the real star of Unity, it shines brightest when navigating the rooftops and you’re able to see great monuments in the distance. Also, because of the lack of guards on rooftops this time round, the navigation is extremely satisfying. Although yet again there are issues. Whether it’s the new animations or just poor design, parkour can feel a little stunted. Being caught on a wall, where you can clearly jump up, but your character just sits there and stares blankly ahead is a frustration that will never not be annoying. How about asking your guy to jump in one direction, and him jumping somewhere completely different? Remember that awful minor thing that has plagued the series since day one? Yeah that’s still here. Several times I jumped to my death past a perfectly decent roof I could have landed on.

Assassins Creed Unity ArnoAndElise 166312

This kind of issue is unacceptable when you’re on the eighth iteration of a series. There have been plenty of chances to fix these problems in different, the game began life in 2010. It’s now 2014, that is four years development time that has been spent on... what? A slower combat system? Notre Dame? One thing they did spend time on was descending down buildings. As much of a quality of life improvement as that is, it’s nice to not have to dive to my death just to get off a high building.

Going back to Paris, it’s clear that the art team have spent every minute of their development time investing in making every single part of the city feel hand made. It’s beautiful and most certainly the best city in any AC game for density of people, buildings and amount of things to do. But, once again, with everything that this game does well it causes several other things to break. There are a lot of things to do but they are all either A) boring B) co-op which in turn is boring or C) requires a mobile app/website to access. Having to use a mobile app or website to access parts of a game is not only a decision that people should be fired over, but it’s frustrating when both the apps and websites DON’T WORK PROPERLY.

Assassins Creed Unity District IleDeLaCity 166323

Like I’ve already said the new co-op features are once again mind numbing. The missions are: go here, kill these people/search this thing, rinse, repeat. This was a massive disappointment considering the great amount of publicity that has been put out about this mode up to this point. As far as I could tell it’s just missions that could have been single player but it’s been confined to co-op for no reason.

After all these negatives, there is one upside. If you’re already an AC fan, you’ll love this game. If you can handle the minor annoyances and bugs, if you have the temper of a saint, you will enjoy this game. This is Assassin’s Creed at its peak level, but if the formula doesn’t change with the next iteration I feel there may be no way to save the franchise from mediocrity.

While it offers little new content and is poorly optimised, Unity does offer the prime Assassin’s Creed experience.

6.50/10 6½

Assassin's Creed Unity (Reviewed on Xbox One)

Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.

While it offers little new content and is poorly optimised, Unity does offer the prime Assassin’s Creed experience.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Did you enjoy Unity? Let us know below.
James Furlong

James Furlong


James enjoys games, extreme metal and shooting ’N3wBs’ in the face. All from the comfort of his bedroom, in deepest darkest surrey.

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Hamiltonious - 08:17pm, 3rd December 2014

6.5/10? You're losing your touch, Furl. On a serious note I don't think I'll be buying this until its on sale for less than a tenner.

Phil - 11:15am, 4th December 2014

Maybe less than a fiver.

domdange - 11:42am, 4th December 2014

I accidentally pre-ordered it sorry Alex! It's just another AC, albeit one that kept crashing on my PS4. Haven't been back because I've been playing Far Cry. Will probably do it, for the sake of it, I've got this weird fascination with AC games