My dear friends, it is time for another review! This one has been sitting on my mind a lot since I’m still fighting my way through the game, but I think now is as good a time as any to talk about Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Unity for PS4. Probably one of the most anticipated games of the year, this follow up to the ongoing franchise came out last month nearly half-a-year after the E3 World Premiere Trailer (seen below) left jaws dropped on the floor. I think for me, the first word that came to my mouth was ‘orgasmic’ because of the visual quality given to the video sequence. Secondly, I knew what I was looking at was Assassin’s Creed and not whatever Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag was (because that was just some random pirate nonsense…). So all these months later, the game finally arrives… and it turns out it’s kinda weird. Actually, wow… what the heck happened to that trailer we saw? For some reason, this game is not the same as that video at all.
I know! That doesn’t sound very promising, but I decided it might be worthwhile to break this down into a list of the GOOD Things and a list of the BAD Things I found just for the sake of being fair. This is what I’ve come up with:
Things you will like.
- The protagonist is smokin’ hot: I believe I mentioned this in a previous review, and I will say it again… we cast beautiful celebrities to play parts in movies because it attracts the audience to the screen, right? Why should videogames be any different? Assassin’s Creed 3 and Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag failed (to me) when it came to presenting eye candy of any kind when the reality is that nowadays women and gay men play games too and want to see something stunning! I will admit, Ubisoft did a great job handling Ezio Auditore from the Assassin’s Creed 2 series and he is the character that attracted me to the series. While Roger Craig Smith‘s voice brought Ezio to life, he isn’t exactly an Ezio in real life given that the voice is forced talent and he looks nothing like our Italian assassin. However, Dan Jeannotte, though, is the real deal. Can we talk about how good-looking this guy is? Not to mention his freakin’ sexual voice? The funny thing is that he is such a perfect fit to star as Assassin Creed Unity‘s main hero, Arno Dorian, because of his great French accent. When he switches into French dialogue, a part of you just puts down the controller to hear the beauty of his speech. Arno as a character is interesting as he is fully fleshed out and defined from childhood throughout the game, allowing the audience to connect more with his journey. This game brought back the human side of the assassin’s that fall in love and understand the innocents they meet. I really missed that in the last two titles, which I couldn’t be bothered to finish. The designers put their best foot forward to give Arno a nice body, so when you get him into those advanced costumes you have something to look at for sure. It would appear that Arno became an assassin at age 21, possibly making our assassin one of the youngest to have joined the brotherhood, making it a lot more interesting to see this boy become a man. Upon further research, it would seem that Dan Jeannotte is no stranger to the series, having voiced minor roles in the previous two titles, and so it would seem the studio grew to like him enough for Arno. I don’t blame them because I like him for many things… All of this being said, just like a movie, a pretty face is not enough to drive a story.
- The classic elements brought back to the series: As I mentioned above, it is nice to see that this game goes back to the grassroots of the series that really did not exist in Black Flag. We’re back on land in the big cities of France and we get to indulge again street theft, assassin contracts, treasure box hunting, climbing buildings for viewpoints, and zone wars between officials and Templars. However, Unity takes it to another level with more side journeys, such as special kinds of treasure, COOP/Grand Theft missions, mystery case files, and many other Paris stories. It’s almost like an overload when you open the world map to see so many icons present. The fact is that there is a lot to do in this game and it’s most definitely something I missed. The weaponry and equipment has been a bit simplified in that you no longer have to visit blacksmiths to shop;, in fact, this game only has one kind of street vendor that caters to medical consumables and ammo of all kinds. While there is no more notoriety system in the game, walking the streets of Paris does allow enemies to spot you and for you to get into all kind of street fights, which never allows for a dull moment. The only thing I miss? Hiring prostitutes and backup for your missions! Though, I guess this is where the COOP thing comes into play. All-in-all, if you are a die hard of the classics in this series, you’ll love the nostalgia blast in this game.
- The bigger open concept: The last great thing I’ll give to Unity is the wide ground it covers. This is not a new thing as even the older games had big ambitious maps, but I like how seamless it is in this game to freely travel far and wide. The missions make use of the grand space, taking Arno from one zone to the next for each task. Of course, if you get tired of the long runs, there is fast travel as well, which again is not a new concept to the games. What is new, however, is the amount of hustle and bustle in the game. There are people EVERYWHERE… I have to say at many times I wished there wasn’t so much action, but it definitely adds to the realism of France during the time period. The game makes use of portal jumps in the system, as well as exclusive travel to different destinations off the map that allows the players to see an even wider array of settings. If you are the type of person who likes taking in the sights in videogames (like myself), you will like this game for that.
Things you might not like.
- The game engine is on crack: Let me make one thing clear: this game is anything BUT ‘next generation’. I remember reading via my Twitter feed many complaints on gaming sites reporting outrage in the community over Unity. I didn’t bother to look into it until I actually played the game and realized during the very first cinematic cutescene that things were not right. What every engine they are using to generate characters, objects, and scenes is not responding fast enough to the camera angles and events onscreen. What does that mean exactly? It means that the movie starts playing and as the main characters are talking, you see people magically popping up in the background, trees disappearing, hairlines growing out of thing air, etc… Now, I know better than anyone else that Assassin’s Creed makes use of a very good excuse, which is the Animus technology used by Abstergo Industries to relive the memories of the past in the game. However, you can tell this is not intentional like the desynchronizations or load screens in the game. It only gets worse as the game goes on… I can’t say how many times I’d be walking the streets of France and I’d see couples of people drop down from the sky and be placed in the game. Many times the enemies you fight will disappear into walls and get stuck like that too. Another crazy thing I noticed was that during missions where you are required to follow another character, you’d often be stuck waiting for the character to make a move? You’d actually have to shove the character onscreen or run around them to get them to remember where they have to take you. What kind of pathetic generator is this? I mentioned above that at times I felt there were too many people on the streets and I find this is the biggest downfall for Ubisoft in this title because their own system is not generating the content fast enough or seamlessly enough. For a game designed to march by PlayStation 4 standards, it utterly fails and is actually the worst I’ve seen since the PS2 days… Big miss for Ubisoft. I suppose, with all of this said, there is a reason why the CEO sent out this message:
- The lack of effort is very apparent: While I commend Ubisoft for issuing the above personal statement to each registered gamer and for following up with patches and promises, there is really no amount of healing that can be done to fix this game. Why? Because, to me, from the beginning they didn’t work hard enough on it. I noticed, during most of the running around you do during this game, that the street characters repeat the same thing over and over again in the same voices… It kinda donned on me that there are not nearly as many unique voices in this game as there are tons of characters. I also noticed a lack of diversity in the lines, where you’d be fighting an enemy and he will say the same phrase to you 10 times in a row consecutively not realizing he is rambling on like a moron. I also have to say I didn’t quite understand the accents and dialogues in the game… Why is there so minimal French used in the game when it is main,y developed in Montreal??? The acting, with the exception of key actors like Dan Jeannotte fails big time in this game. While the face animation was something to marvel at (especially Arno’s sexy face), hair in this game is something to be laughed at; I actually shed a tear each time Arno removed his assassin’s hood to reveal that nappy straw head.. That is pretty said considering studios like Square-Enix have been mastering hair since the PS2 days. I feel the developers put more effort into the buildings, settings and adventure content of the game that the characters took a quality hit, and that really isn’t right considering the characters usually drive the story. Maybe a lot of these things can be blamed on the engine, but I don’t remember suffering these problems in the other Assassin’s Creed titles.
- The mission expectations are too difficult: For my last critical point, let me take things in a different direction; the gameplay. Definitely the biggest boasting point for this game is the multiplayer interactive content, hence the title Unity. That is fine and dandy except for the biggest drawback of using this game console: PlayStation Plus. It is allowed to live and be there, but to make multiplayer content live only through this paid service is bullshit, considering it costs nearly $500 for the system and nearly $100 per game (in Canada at least). Haven’t we gamers paid our dues already? I had this problem with Destiny‘s online content too, though they at least offered a free month trial of Plus, which I gladly took advantage of. So what to do if you really don’t want to pay for the additional service, but want to play the game? Thankfully Ubisoft allows us to play all missions, including the COOP ones, solo! HOWEVER, like I mentioned above, the lack of effort given to the game is tremendous in that one would think the game would somehow modify the difficult of each 2-4-player mission for solo action. Just to confirm, no, it does not. You will be playing by yourself where a part of others should be helping you and this is not fair. It’s been a very long time since I’ve played a game where I had to restart the mission like a billion times, and this is like almost every single one (COOP at least). Yes, you can avoid these missions and stick to the basic story guideline, but the only way to shape up for the main story is to play the side stories, so that doesn’t leave a lot of room for completion of the game. Another thing I noticed in this game is that it’s not as easy to earn money and the good armor costs and arm and a leg. The best part? Said armor doesn’t even defend you in gameplay. One bullet or strike from the enemy and you’re basically down and out. There are many instances where you end up surrounded and the only option is to flee. The game does encourage the players to make use of stealthy tactics, but it’s hard to sneak by one guard to enter a room of ten. It actually makes no amount of sense.
Now, I’m not sure how one should feel after reading everything I’ve posted. There are some good things, but there are equally bad things too. Maybe the best thing for you is to experience the game for yourself and draw your own logical conclusions. I find a lot of the time I am like this despite what other people say. Although, I do consider myself a great judge of character. Anyway, many will say that Assassin’s Creed Unity is far from similar to the trailer that came before it, but if you’re a die-hard fan of the series, you can always find out where to buy it here. For now, check out the Official Trailer below.