Assassin's Creed Unity is a historical action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released in November 2014 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Set within Paris during the French Revolution, the single-player story follows Arno Dorian in his efforts to expose the true powers behind the Revolution.
At long last our Assassins Creed: Unity review.
The latest release from Ubisoft has been met with loads of negative reviews and criticisms regarding the games overall performance and glitches. Famed YouTube reviewer/journalist TotalBisquit even went as far to create a “Let’s not play Assassins Creed: Unity yet” video pointing out all the flaws and his overall disappointment with the game. Users on Steam have also lashed out at Ubisoft and the game currently holds a 6/10 rating based on user ratings. But is the game as terrible as everyone says it is? Or has everyone taken on the persona of the French people during the revolution and gathered their pitchforks looking for Ubisoft heads to roll. This review is going to be based on my personal experience playing the game on PC through the Uplay game management system, and will not be using anyone else’s opinion good or bad to sway how I actually feel about the game. I also want to point out that yes Ubisoft did supply us with a review copy of the game, and that will also not sway the final outcome of the review you are about to read, so please enjoy!
I have been playing the Assassin Creed games since my wife picked me up a copy of Assassins Creed for 360 after weeks of me drooling at the TV any time a commercial for it came on. Since then I have been hooked to the third person, stealth, action, sci-fi franchise and will pick up any game that they release. Some were hits, Assassins Creed 2, Assassins Creed: Black Flag, and others were not so much but I still played for the story, Revelations, Assassins Creed 3. All in all though the entire experience has been a positive one and I enjoy spending a few hours to dedicate to playing as whatever new assassin that takes the stage.
So far Unity is no exception, and regardless of its obvious flaws I am enjoying myself.
Unity is set in France during the eve of the French Revolution, and does its best to create a hostile and hectic environment for you to explore and fulfil the duties of an assassin. You play as Arno Dorian, an orphan who gets thrown into the assassin world after getting framed for a murder he did not commit. Arno is also in love with his childhood friend Elise, whom he discovers is a Templar and must struggle with his heart versus his commitment to the Assassins. Arno comes across as a cocky, street smart kid who can get himself out of any situation with a quick word or a quick fist. As you progress through the story, you can clearly see the change in Arno’s tone and how he handles himself in a more hardened way.
The story this time around seems to be more thought out and written quite well. Travis Stout (Fallout: New Vegas) was the mind behind AC: Unity, and I’m glad that one of the writers from another video game I hold dear to me was responsible for penning this story. The voice acting in Unity is much better than it was in Black Flag, and it helps immerse you into the game even though you may fall through the ground once or twice. Another nod to the voice acting in this game is to the random citizens around you and their endless banter that you always hear clips of as you run by sounded really great this time, and wasn’t as flat as it has been in the past. They seem like “real” people carrying conversations, not just to fill dead air, but as if they have their own lives to attend to.
The cities created for Unity are gorgeous by the way, and I am not overhyping it at all. The first time I climbed to the top of Notre Dame and synchronised, I exclaimed holy crap to the screen in front of me. The entire city breathes with life and has so much to explore and do. There is not just the buildings to climb and explore, but also sewers you can escape and run through from area to area. Most buildings are 1:1 to the character, so when you are climbing a building, you are actually climbing a full scale building in the environment. You may want to stick to the buildings though considering the crowds can get quite dense on the ground and you may find yourself bouncing off random pedestrians if you are in the rush to get somewhere. There is also a “drop in” effect used to load system data for the game that is very similar to how things were done in Watch Dogs, which means that as you progress into a new area the game will drop in character models and textures. Sometimes these textures or people will change last minute or not show up at all leaving you running into an invisible bucket for 2 mins until it loads.
The character models in the game are a step up from Black Flag, or even Rogue which was released on the same day as Unity for 360/PS3. The faces are much more detailed and the facial expressions that can be created are much more life like than we have seen in the previous games. One big concern though that I have seen with the character models is that there is sometimes holes, or disconnections of textures to the character themselves. There will be times where you can see through the character to what’s behind them or notice that their sleeve is attached to nothing. These types of issues do not present themselves very often, and you really have to look to find them.
As you are running through the crowds and attempting to either catch a criminal, or escaping a botched assassination the controls seem to finally have been figured out for Unity. What I mean by this is the last time we were in a big city in a AC game it was in AC:3 and constantly I would find myself going to run and jump to what I thought would be a reasonable ledge to grab on to, or a branch to jump to, only to fall to my death. In Unity it seems as if you can climb, or grab ahold of anything that has a visible edge to it on the screen, and this makes it so much easier for someone line myself who likes to be able to escape by climbing anything I can. The battle control’s are very similar to Black Flag, so there is no need to worry about a learning curve with this game. Mind you there are new weapons that you will need to master, but nothing that 30 minutes of battles wont cure.
As far as the new weapons are concerned there are a lot of new combinations that you can use and create your own loadout depending on the situation you are going into. If you are a fan of the sword it’s still there for you to choose from, but we also have permanent spears (which were temporary options in previous games), long rifles, hammers, and also some non-lethal options if thats what you prefer. All weapons do either have a cost to them that you can buy, or some that you can still earn from challenges or unlocks.
Another great customization option introduced with Unity is the option to not only choose what outfit you wear, but every piece of it in interchangeable and has its own stats to them. For example, you can pick your own hood, chest, boots, gloves, pants and pick which ones have the stats you are looking for as an assassin. There will be some with higher health and protection, while others can increase your stealth and agility. This is the first time that we have ever had this type of control over the player, and it feels like to deck out my assassin the way I want, not the way the game dictates I should play.
Unity has also introduced a new game mode to allow players to not only play multiplayer, but to help each other complete missions. As you have had traditional missions to either kill a target, or find some treasure, now you have an option to do co-op missions with friends or others who are just playing the same time as you. I am a huge fan of this mode, because there is nothing more perfect than having you and another player get the drop on some Templars and executing a flawless kill on your target. OR, watching as it all falls apart, and then trying it again from another angle, or strategy. This game mode needs to stay in the game, its awesome.
One other new addition to the game which we have not seen in others is whats called a “Server Bridge”. This is explained as Abstergo is looking for you within their system and to avoid them you jump into another server to escape them. This server not only transports you away from your perusers, but drops you into another digital time period. This is allowing is not only to escape old France, but also see what other time periods can be done for AC, and not have an entire game dedicated to the period. Some of the times you get to go to are 1898 and 1944, and with seeing these times in an AC game, i would love a WWII AC game.
A few paragraphs up I mentioned falling through the floor, this is alluding to the bugs and glitches that gamers and reviewers have been more than vocal about so far. Assassins Creed: Unity since release has been plagued with frame rate issues and glitches that range from humorous to damn frustrating to deal with. On PC its possible to get a standard of 60 fps with a decent setup, and if you are slightly above minimum settings should be hovering around 30 fps which is still a nice smooth play. Right now though it seems that regardless of how powerful your machine is that you still find yourself dipping below 60 fps, and if you have a less than optimal system, the game is almost unplayable for some gamers. Ubisoft has announced that they are patching the game, and should be optimized soon, but we are still waiting on all the glitches to be worked out.
I am currently playing the game with a GTX 560 1gb, i5-4440 3.10GHz, and 8gb of RAM, and I am hovering anywhere from 20-40 fps when I am playing. I have experienced some lockups that last from 2-10 seconds, and a handful of times between cutscenes and playing the game has slowed up, but nothing I would consider game breaking or “unplayable”. I do plan on getting a newer card come Cyber Monday, but for now the game runs nicely and I am enjoying it even though things freak out from time to time. All the screenshots used in this article are from my PC as I was playing the game.
I would love to see Ubisoft pull themselves out from this because of the negative press given to Unity, it has stopped a lot of people from even trying the game to begin with.
But when it comes down to a final impression of the game, I am overall pleased with the game. The story is interesting, the characters are well developed, and the cityscape is amazing to explore and I really want to see where this game can be taken with further DLC missions. If you are a AC fan like myself, pick it up and look past the glitches/fps issues. But if you are new to the franchise and are worried about all the bad press, give it a few weeks, give Ubisoft a chance to fix some of the issues and then pick it up.
+ Pretty City
+ French People
+ Time Travel
+ Customization options
+ Co-op missions
- Performance issues
- Could have waited another month or so to release to avoid issues
- Annoying "pop-in's"