Assassin’s Creed Unity (review)

BreakingModern – It’s a revolution. It has changed the face of the world as we know it. It has brought the death of a lineage of … oh, never mind. I’m not talking about the French Revolution or anything. I’m talking about Ubisoft’s latest creation: Assassin’s Creed Unity. And it has changed the landscape of the Assassin’s Creed series forever.

A lot of Unity’s changes have to do with the setting. The game takes place during the French Revolution and features various political factions fighting for control of the country with the enemies divided into different groups, such as radicals, royalists, and others. This feature lets you have better crowd control, better gang wars, better land grabs, and better chases. In this regard, it’s quite similar to Assassin’s Creed III.

However, the overall storyline is a bit disappointing and confusing. In the past, Ubisoft always did a good job of mixing the historical with the fictional in its games. Certain events such as the Boston Tea Party (or the death of Blackbeard) have made appearances in the Assassin’s Creed series and have been well integrated into the overall plot.

But this time many of the pivotal events of the French Revolution have either been overlooked, or just pushed to the background. Take for example, the storming of the Bastille. In Unity, the protagonist, Arno Dorian, doesn’t conspire to launch or prevent the attack. Instead he just sits back and witnesses the events.

Really? C’mon, Ubisoft! The French Revolution was basically a giant conspiracy explosion. Assassins and Templars would have totally kicked ass in that kind of situation. It’s a shame they were relegated to the background.

And the storyline … it’s about as confusing (and disappointing) as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Instead of an Assassins vs. Templars battle (which would have been awesome), the storyline focuses on Dorian and how he helps his lover (Elise) avenge the death of her father. That’s it. You are never the Assassin hero charged with picking off the Templar leadership. Nor are you a revolutionary fighter taking out corrupt nobles for the good of the people. It’s so disappointing.

Historical characters, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, the Marquis de Sade and Robespierre, only make cursory appearances. Their involvement fluctuates depending on the mission and they don’t have any effect on the game’s outcome. This is totally opposite of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag where the historical characters played a central part in the overall story. Napoleon, in particular, was just a waste of potential.

Even though the campaign has its problems, the mechanics of the game are a welcome change in the series. Missions aren’t as constricted as they are in earlier games. Instead of a series of tasks that set up the final killing of your enemy, you’re simply given an enemy, the background information, and tasked to do your thing. This setup may be a bit difficult for beginners, but for veterans of the series like myself who prefer not to be constrained by any guidelines it’s ideal.

The graphics are a stunning improvement over Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Ubisoft has given us a new game engine and awesome new crowd interactions — it really does make Paris come alive. Even though the city is filled with anarchy and mobs beating each other up, at least it looks cool. Sadly, for some less powerful computers (especially on the PC version), the graphics are slow to react to player moves. And players have complained about a lot of other technical issues with bugs and glitches on Ubisoft’s gaming forum.

That being said, the best improvement of the game is its new co-op multiplayer mode. The co-op multiplayer has various missions whereby you (and four of your friends) are ordinary members of the Assassin Order and perform unique missions to hinder or further the Revolution. Missions in co-op have the same freedom as single player missions, and don’t feel like a cheap two-player mode.

Overall I would give Assassin’s Creed Unity a 7/10. The graphics are stunning, the mechanics are good, and it has a neat co-op. However, the storyline is a bit disappointing, and I feel more could’ve been done with the historical time period. If you’re an Assassin’s Creed veteran and want a change to the old Assassin’s Creed UI, I would recommend buying this game. If, on the other hand, you’d rather go for an Assassin’s Creed game with an awesome storyline, I would get Assassin’s Creed Rogue instead. Assassin’s Creed Unity is available for all platforms at Amazon.

For BMod, I’m Puching Zhang.

All Screenshots: Puching Zhang

Puching Zhang

Author: Puching Zhang

Based in Chicago, Puching Zhang covers the gaming beat for BreakingModern.

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