A new, tasty sandwich review appears! This time, we’ll be sampling Ubisoft’s latest entry in the long-running Assassin’s Creed series for the Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC. But does the sandwich taste good? The answer to that question is a little . . . elusive.
THE BOTTOM BUN
The last three Assassin’s Creed games (III, IV, and Rogue) all took place in the Colonial Americas. That environment was certainly breathtaking in its own right. But after three games, I was growing sick of the environments’ “open-ness.” I felt like I was doing more sailing than anything else.
Entering Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s Versailles and Paris for the first time was a rush of wonder, excitement, and nostalgia.
The streets and alleys wind around in a maze-like pattern. The buildings are tall and packed tightly together, and many of them have fully modeled interiors that you can enter and leave at will. No loading screen required. It reminded me of the city environments where the first and second games (and its sequels) took place.
The crowds were simply enormous. Having a more realistic amount of inhabitants really brought the cities to life. And whenever fighting broke out, the fleeing masses were a pleasure to behold
oh god I sound like Jeremiah.
THE CRUD IN THE CENTER
Unfortunately, the meat of this sandwich is a bit undercooked. It feels like ACU was released in a roughly 75% complete state. While the visuals are great, once you play the game for a while (~15 minutes in my case), you will run into glitches. Numerous glitches.
Arno, the character you “control”, never seems to do quite what you want him to do. You’ll be hard-pressed to do some parkour without getting frustrated.
Once you’re inside a building, you’ll have the displeasure of trying to get into cover. Getting through a mission on stealth alone is a monumental feat almost solely because Arno is so unreliable when it comes to ducking behind a crate. I eventually resigned myself to the easier strategy: kill all the guards first.
But even doing that isn’t easy because of the uncooperative camera. During life-threatening combat or death-defying parkour, the last thing you want to be fighting is the camera. You’ll find yourself making jumps you didn’t mean to make and getting slashed up by enemies from off-screen.
These shortcomings, combined with some significant changes to game mechanics, result in a steep learning curve where the player is too often left wondering, “Why is Arno doing that?”
THE TOP BUN
The story isn’t mind-blowing, but it does its job: providing another source of motivation. In particular, I enjoyed the relationship between Arno and Elise, and my desire to find out what happens to that relationship kept me playing.
Those “significant changes to game mechanics” I mentioned earlier, however, are what truly saves the game.
Proper assassination missions make a triumphant return in ACU. Each mission starts with a clear target along with optional objectives that you can use to help penetrate the defensive perimeter. Slowly but surely, you inch closer and closer to your target . . . until finally you strike like a flash of lightning and disappear before the guards can catch you.
Combat has changed to accommodate this scenario, and now heavily favors your attackers. Counter-kills are no longer possible. Instead, you must time a parry perfectly in order to follow up with an attack, resulting only in damage–not a guaranteed kill. An imperfectly timed parry won’t stun your opponent, leaving no time for a counter-attack.
The difficulty increase of melee combat makes ranged weapons, tools, and gear upgrades much more valuable. It also makes stealth a much more attractive option (if it weren’t so frustrating).
Multiplayer, while still feeling clunky like much of the rest of the game, can still be great fun. A pack of assassins flitting around the rooftops can be a mesmerizing sight to behold. Unfortunately, you’ll need some truly cooperative friends if you want to try being stealthy. Most people I’ve been matched up with take the dominant strategy of killing everything (which is sometimes really fun).
What else do you do with lemons
besides all their other uses? Some of the glitches and shortcomings actually resulted in some entertaining moments and situations for me. Below are few anecdotes.
Being a crazy masochist, I embraced the challenge of unresponsive controls. I learned to be slow–but steady–as I navigated my way through Paris. I minimized erroneous movements by taking paths that required the least jumping and climbing.
Even the uncooperative camera provided me a fun challenge. As enemies moved off-screen during combat, I learned to listen for their attacks. I felt like Daredevil when I perfectly parried an attack by sound alone.
Traditional Rating: C
Sandwich Rating: Edible
This game has greatness within it, but that greatness can be hard to find while fighting glitches, unresponsive controls, and a stubborn camera.
What do you think of Assassin’s Creed: Unity?
Does this review sound like the ramblings of a potential serial killer? Let us know in the comments below!