Assassin’s Creed Unity – Review

Assassin’s Creed Unity is the first game of Ubisoft’s popular franchise to be exclusive to “next gen” being on only the Xbox One and PS4. There are some new concepts that have been added to the franchise with Unity as well as some older ideas that have been revisited. Assassin’s Creed Unity takes place in Paris during the French Revolution and you are Arno Dorian. Arno’s story is one of revenge and redemption as he tries to find those responsible for a horrible tragedy that he witnessed as well as trying to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again. With Assassin’s Creed Unity being only on the Xbox One and PS4, the development team over at Ubisoft was able to really try and take advantage of the increased power that these consoles offer. It is a pretty amazing sight to be wading through a group of thousands of people who are protesting on the streets of Paris and that the game runs really smoothly while doing that. This is something that simply isn’t possible on the previous generation of consoles.

As I said up above, Assassin’s Creed Unity takes place during the French Revolution. As you progress through the story you will come across some historical figures you should recognize. The Assassins and the Templars are still going at it but there are a few twists this time (which I won’t spoil). As you are making your way through the main story you will notice that your map is absolutely filled with icons and more appear the further you progress in the game. Treasure chests are back although there are different types in Unity. There are Nomad points to find, Cockade collectibles, social clubs to renovate, murder mysteries to solve, Nostradamus Enigma puzzles to solve and more. The main story will last you a decent amount of time but if you are someone who wants to do everything in the game then it is going to take you a long time to do so.

Assassin's Creed Unity

The use of a companion app was introduced in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Ubisoft has created one for Unity as well. There are a lot of different uses for this app such as accessing your database, looking at heatmaps to see the routes other players have taken, looking at your Initiates profile and more. The thing you will use it most for however is the Nomad Brotherhood. This is the same type of thing that has been in the last few Assassin’s Creed games where you are in control of a brotherhood and you send them out on missions. The missions are done in real time so if it says that a mission will take eight hours to complete, then those assassins you send off won’t be available for the next eight hours. The reason you want to complete this missions is due to the different treasure chests in the game. Throughout the game you have your normal treasure chest where you can go and open it at anytime. Then there are the red treasure chests that you won’t be able to open until you get a lock picking ability. Then there are gold chests that are tied to your Assassin’s Creed Initiates account. As you level up in AC Initiates more of these gold chest will be available for you to open.

Then there are blue chests which are the ones that tie in directly to the Assassin’s Creed Unity companion app. After having your Brotherhood complete some missions in the app a blue treasure chest in the game will unlock. It is at that point where you put down the companion app and go play the actual game to open up the newly unlocked chest. Once you do that the app notifies you that the chest has been opened. If you are away from your console and you unlock one of those blue chests, the app will open it for you after 24 hours. So if you are on a family vacation or a business trip and don’t have access to your console, you can still unlock those treasure chests with just using this app. Keep in mind though that one of your Assassins is assigned to each blue chest that is unlocked. So, for example, if you need to unlock two chests then you are going to have two members of your Brotherhood that aren’t available for a period of 24 hours or until you get the contents out of that chest in the game yourself. You don’t need to do any of this to beat the game though. It is completely optional and really only for completionists that need to do everything. I like the concepts here but the problem is that the app is really buggy right now. Now this is obviously a review of Assassin’s Creed Unity and not it’s optional companion app, however, there were times when the app would refuse to sync to my Xbox One so even though the app said I had unlocked something, my game didn’t know it because the two weren’t synced. I got in the habit of simply closing down the app and relaunching but I really should have to do that for my game to recognize it properly.

Assassin’s Creed Unity itself is also not without its share of technical issues and bugs. There were a few instances as I was going through the campaign that the framerate would dip momentarily. It was always quick and never hurt my gameplay experience but it was annoying nonetheless and breaks the immersion the game is trying to create. I didn’t seem to have a lot of the issues that colleagues of mine did though as the majority of the game (i.e. the single player) ran really great for me. The online co-op was a bit more of a mixed bag though. There is no competitive multiplayer in Assassin’s Creed Unity but there are a number of co-op missions for you to go through. These are independent of the game’s story and will involve you working together with friends to complete a mission whether it be to find and assassinate some targets or pull off a heist without anyone knowing you are there. You will get rewards after completing these missions but what you get will be dependent on how efficient you were. If you can complete a mission without alerting anyone and without being spotted then your reward will be significantly higher than if you went into combat with every enemy that you saw. If one of your teammates happens to get taken out you can also run over there to revive them so it is important to work together as a team as much as you can.

There are a number of different ways to approach your objective just like in the single player. There were instances where I was patrolling the rooftop while a comrade was running around on the ground and I would air assassinate a sniper that was standing on a balcony before he could shoot a teammate. All of this sounds really cool and is a lot of fun, when it is working properly. Unfortunately there were some missions that worked just fine for me but then others that had extreme lag. We would also get stuck in the environment or the enemies would be spazzing out in some way whether they were walking in circles, clipping through the environment and more. There was even one instance where one of my friends fell halfway through the map so you could only see them from the waist up. There was nothing she could do so she just had to wait a few minutes while the rest of us completed the mission. I do want to stress that this didn’t happen in every session…some of the sessions I played in ran beautifully. It is those sessions that didn’t though that really need to be patched because it can ruin the gameplay experience.

Assassin's Creed Unity (2)

Back to the single player it really is impressive what they were able to accomplish with this world. Despite the few framerate drops I encountered I was able to walk through a crowd of thousands of people and the Xbox One handled it beautifully. I would walk into the middle of the crowd, spin the camera around and everything would work really well. The gameplay is a lot more fluid than in previous versions which is something I had to get used to. Additionally, the AI is smarter and combat is a lot more challenging. You really need to think about what you are doing before you run headlong to a big group of enemies. They will be able to kill you fairly easily if you can’t counter their moves quick enough. As you complete missions and various other objectives you will earn sync points. These points will allow you to purchase different skills such as being able to do a double air assassination, getting more health, increasing your lock picking ability and more. You can also buy different outfits and gear that will have an effect on what you can carry. One particular belt, for example, might only let you carry five lockpicks while another will let you carry 25. You need to weigh the pros and cons to see what you can live with and what you can live without. You can also buy some time saver packs using real world money like you could in Black Flag if you so choose but it isn’t required. The way these work is you have to use helix credits to purchase the Murder Mystery map, for example, and you can buy these by purchasing a Helix Credit Pack. The minimum you can spend is $10 and you can go up to $99.99 but it is by no means a requirement. You can still do everything with the original $60 you spent on Assassin’s Creed Unity. These are just time saver packs but you can still play the game and get everything just like you always could.

If you want to take a break from the main story there is a plethora of side quests for you to do. There are murder mysteries where you need to investigate crime scenes for clues and track down the murderer. There are “Paris Stories” where you might need to help someone out, such as getting back some jewelry that was stolen or stopping violent Royalist Chouans from burning neighboring vineyards. There are also social club missions where you might need to help a club get back on its feet. You start by renovating the place but then have to track down criminals who are doing what they can to wreak havoc. One social club mission, for example, has you assassinating the four captains exacting tolls at the bridges to the lle de la Cite. Then there are the Nostradamus Enigma missions where you need to solve riddles to recover fragments of the Nostradamus Disc which will unlock a nice reward for you. As you renovate more clubs and complete some these missions you will gain money that will be stored in your chest until you pick it up. As you get further in the game you will earn money fairly quickly so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. You will need to keep an eye on your chest though because if it becomes full you won’t be able to earn anything else until you empty it.

Graphically speaking Assassin’s Creed Unity is a very pretty game. The character models look lifelike and the cinematics are pretty incredible. The main characters especially have an insane amount of detail and any cut scenes you see will reflect changes you have made to your assassin. If you have chosen to wear an outfit that gives you more health, for example, your new look will reflected in upcoming cinematics. The audio for this game has also been done really well. Simply walking down the streets of Paris is an audio treat as the city is alive and vibrant from the protests going on in one area, criminals harassing normal people, enemy soldiers threatening you if you get to close and much more.

Assassin’s Creed Unity is a game that has a tremendous amount of things to do. If you are someone who is a completionist it will take you quite a while to do everything. If you are just here to experience Arno’s story then you are in for a treat as well and that should keep you busy for a little while, especially if you are going for 100% sync in all of the missions. It is a shame though that the aforementioned technical issues are currently preventing this game from reaching its potential. Assassin’s Creed Unity, in my opinion, is going to be a really excellent game once all of the patches are out. Unfortunately all of the patches aren’t out right now and it must be judged in its current state. I have not run into a lot of the problems some others have so in my personal experience Unity is a really good game with the potential to be really great down the road. If you are an Assassin’s Creed fan I definitely recommend playing this game. I really enjoyed the story, the new ideas and the different things Ubisoft can now do on this more powerful hardware. If you are unsure then be sure to rent it and find out for yourself.

Score: 7.5/10

Originally posted on Gaming Target

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