Ubisoft head to France in this latest instalment. It's a more fitting time period than you'd imagine.
Somewhat controversially, Ubisoft must be applauded for their intentions this year.It may come as a shock to some to hear this, but they have tried their best to keep people on all formats happy this Christmas. Not only have they provided two Creed games, with an entry on both old and new consoles, but they have also pushed themselves creatively. Their workload has been divided to achieve this feat, whilst their ambitions for the new generation of games have been impressive.Assassins Creed: Unity, their flagship outing on PS4 and XB1, has clear intentions of being the benchmark for future titles, to prove that they can go back to the glory days of Florence. With a striking setting such as France in revolution, Unity sets out to provide a living, breathing backdrop for your antics with plenty of meaning and consequence.
SettingYou are Arno Dorian, the son of a French nobleman who is also an assassin making big waves within the higher ranks of both the public and the Creed. Arno’s story begins when he is but a child, before quickly moving onwards to reveal his journey to become an assassin and follow in his father’s footsteps. Thankfully, the beginning to Unity is nowhere near as lengthy as it was in Assassin's Creed III, and the tutorials don’t hold your hand for too long. Although the tutorials do guide you through the latest additions to the franchise, which make a huge difference to the gameplay.
Ubisoft has clearly recognised the need to keep the series moving onwards, rather than rinsing and repeating the same mechanics each year. Whilst Black Flag went slightly sideways, providing more entertainment beyond the regular assassin expectations, Unity makes you a much more proficient killer.
Your abilities to both kill and travel are enhanced and streamlined, making this the most fluid game to date. Where traversal and climbing have been a cumbersome affair in the past, Unity rectifies that with better parkour than before. Scaling buildings and ducking down alleyways is now fluid, with fewer worries if you’re going to escape in time or if you’ll get stuck in the scenery. Parisian France is a task to navigate because of its intricacy, as opposed to it being littered with AI or poorly designed environments, which is a testament to the game.
Your abilities to both kill and travel are enhanced and streamlined, making this the most fluid game to date.
In a move that may split opinion, the ability to instantly kill enemies by parrying is now abolished, with combat now relying more on your ability to parry and read your enemies. Early on, enemies can be downed with a couple of well-placed hits, with latter combatants needing to be broken down gradually before they’re felled. You can take pot-shots with your pistol to try and even the odds or weaken stronger foes, but combat is nicely balanced.
BugsAs for its appearance and quality, Unity is a very pretty game. There are no 'stop-and-stare' vistas like in Black Flag, but Paris is really brought to life and is full of character and depth. Sitting atop a sync point or a ledge is a moment worth savouring to appreciate the size of the playground which is available to you in the shape of Paris. Despite having sent the industry mad with its whole 900p and frame rate debacle, the lower resolution doesn’t detract too much from the overall quality of the entire experience.
If anyone was expecting a 'but' after my initial sentence praising Ubisoft, then congratulations, here it comes. Despite Ubisoft doing their best to provide as good a game as possible in Unity (and the ambition of the project being commendable) it’s a shame the end product doesn’t deliver on any of its intended promises. All the above sentiments are true, with the game looking good and the improvements made to the handling being greatly beneficial to the series, but Unity lacks the polish to make it the best title we’ve seen in recent years.
The whole storm that they kicked up by opting for a lower 30fps as opposed to 60fps to be more ‘cinematic’ should have been vindicated and proved. Instead, what we’re given is a frame rate that fails to reach even 30 when the screen fills with NPCs and things get hectic. In fact, it plunges terribly to around 20 frames or lower, making the whole game look horrible and turning it into a chore to play, especially when you’re dashing between buildings and vantage points. With hindsight, opting for 30fps looks more like an attempt to cover up the fact that Unity could never reach the desired 60fps in time for launch.
Unity’s troubles don’t end there either, with NPCs being a sporadic nightmare, popping in and out of scenes as and when they like, whilst they may even walk through walls. In fact, the entire game is a buggy mess (with a hefty patch required to fix them) in some instances making it a hilarity and unplayable at the same time. In its defence, many bugs were addressed with the day one patch, but some still remain as Ubisoft provide rolling support for Unity to rid the game of its problems.
United We Stand
- Looks great
- Fantastic Setting
- Improved parkour
- Fluid combat
Together We Fall
- It's a buggy nightmare!
- Terrible frame rates
- Too ambitious for what's currently possible
Assassin's Creed: Unity PlayStation 4 ReviewWhat Unity is, is a very strange beast. On the one hand, it’s definitely a leap in the right direction for future Assassin’s Creed games. It provides enough new changes to keep it feeling fresh and like there is plenty to be seen from the series yet. That’s no more so evident than both in its co-op modes and new equipment upgrade system. The former of which allows for tactical play between friends and random opponents, making tough challenges a little easier with careful planning and cunning. The latter pushes you to own better equipment in order to brush off the tougher enemies found in the more difficult regions of Paris, giving outfits a greater emphasis and meaning than in previous outings.
But what holds it back is Ubisoft’s lack of polish and sensibility in what they can currently achieve on the new hardware. Sure, we might see heavily crowded street scenes in the future, but right now the PS4 isn’t ready. Well it isn’t in the poorly optimised effort we have presented in front of us at this moment in time at any rate. Underneath this, however, is a game which is fun to play and it’s a real shame Unity wasn’t delayed until it was truly ready.
Unity may be a bold step into the future of gaming, but it needed to be a more realistic one, making waves for all the right reasons not the ones which it has made thus far. As the game is being constantly patched, this review will be updated to reflect the fixes that are coming from Ubisoft and whether or not they address the game's bugs and errors.
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