The Cream of the Crap – Assassin’s Creed Unity
When Assassin’s Creed Unity was announced, I have to confess, I was excited. An Assassin’s Creed game set in Paris (exciting to me because I have family in France and thus have been to Paris frequently), with a new and promising looking parkour system, a new assassin who they said would be charming, a new combat system, an actual stealth button, and running only on PS4 and Xbox One because of the updated graphics. Not to mention set against a backdrop of violent revolution. I was ready for Assassin’s Creed to finally fulfill the potential I knew it had.
But instead of an awesome story of revolution and revelation, we got a watered down Romeo and Juliet story between the assassin Arno and his Templar lover, Elise. Let’s start with the fact that Arno is basically sassy and immature Connor Kenway. Where Connor at least felt like if Batman was an assassin, Arno just feels like a much more childish and sarcastic version. He’s not charming so much as annoying. Essentially he’s a millennial in the 18th century who stumbled his way into the Brotherhood after learning how to fight in jail?
But weak story and less than thrilling characters are the least of our worries when this creation of nightmares appeared during random cutscenes.
Yes, Ubisoft decided to harness the amazing graphic capabilities of the PS4 and Xbox One so they could show you what next gen is truly capable of. Power so strong you get to see INSIDE the characters. Heaven forbid they show us what they can do with the upcoming Xbox One X. I’m expecting softcore pornos from upcoming AC titles. And yet, not only do things disappear in the magical world of Assassin’s Creed Unity. They also magically appear. As the crowds gather around to watch people get guillotined, you’ll have some citizens spawn from nowhere, because apparently having 500 NPCs on screen takes a toll. Who knew? And why have so many characters on screen? Because it looks cool and sounds cool when you say so during a conference. If only they had funneled all that work into the gameplay department.
Unity wouldn’t earn a Cream of the Crap title for just graphical errors and poor characters alone. But lucky for us, it has so much more to offer because Unity represents everything wrong with the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Namely a parkour system that still doesn’t quite get you where you want to go, stealth that’s still not really stealthy, and combat that’s just horrible. Yeah, we’ll get to that later.
Granted, descending buildings is no longer easy if there’s only a hay bale to break your neck in, but that’s about as special as the new parkour system is. It’s still marvelously frustrating as you fumble over buildings with just more grace than a toddler running down a flight of stairs. It’s an improvement, to be fair, but it’s all relative. It has potential, and Syndicate capitalized on this potential, but in Unity it was in the early stages and thus didn’t look as cool or work as well as we hoped.
And then we have the newer and not so improved combat system. Combat has never been Assassin’s Creed‘s strong point, but at least it wasn’t as frustrating in previous installments. Granted, where was the need for stealth in AC 3 when you could win the revolutionary war single-handedly in the streets of Boston? But in an attempt to force stealth on you, Ubisoft thought it was a good idea to make enemies unnecessarily hard because, you know, why not? And there’s no nuance to the combat or its difficulty. This isn’t Dark Souls where the combat is brutal but it makes sense. It’s just brutal.
Speaking of brutal, it should come as a slap in the face to Ubisoft that for a game about “assassins” and “hidden blades” they still can’t create a good stealth game. Sneaking around a fortress becomes a pain in the a** as you attempt to scale a wall, only to go the wrong way and end up in a courtyard full of guards who then proceed to slaughter you. . . Or you just auto-fail the mission. A new “stealth button” designed to actually make it so your character can crouch is a nice improvement to the game, but it still only works so well. Yeah, you can use cover now, but the cover system is about as vague and undefined as when you ask your girlfriend where she wants to go for dinner. Am I actually in cover behind this thing? Am I not? “I don’t know.”
So in what way is Unity actually good? Well, it’s pretty. Sometimes. At moments the game is downright stunning . . . until the framerate drops, people appear out of nowhere, and you can’t climb that damn. . . Okay, I need to relax. But seriously, Unity is like the person you meet who you think is hot until your friends tell you everything about them. Then you just want to stay away. They have issues that need to be resolved and chances are it won’t be any time soon.
The music is typical assassin’s fare. Epic at moments, but not memorable enough to listen to when you’re not actually playing the game. And the voice acting follows the same vein: decent but doesn’t stand out when you step away.
And is the game fun? Assassin’s Creed Unity is about as fun as lighting your hair on fire while running around on LEGO barefoot, hitting yourself in the nuts repeatedly with nunchucks. Because, like I said before, the game is the compilation of nearly everything every gamer on the internet complains about when talking about the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
Also, microtransactions. ‘Nuff said.