Assassin’s Creed games have always been a favourite of mine. I always love getting completely invested into the games worlds and sinking in hours of time playing the story missions and exploring the huge maps for collectables and secrets. There’s always been just enough intrigue in the franchises scifi/historical universe to keep me coming back for more. However, like most game franchises nowadays, some Assassin’s Creed games are good, some…not so much.
If you’re a geek like me you might be aware of the famous Star Trek movie curse. The curse states that every even numbered Star Trek movie is better than the odd numbered movie. This curse however can also be applied to the Assassin’s Creed series with two being more successful than the original and so on.
Following the success of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag last year, Unity had a lot to live up to. Not to mention being the first truly next gen Assassin’s Creed to be released on the Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Unity is one of the few games of 2014 to actually look like a fully-fledged next gen game. The games setting of 18th century Paris is beautifully recreated in an utterly jaw-dropping way. I’ll admit that once I had entered the world I spent a while just walking round the streets and in the buildings appreciating the near photo-realistic architecture and being at awe as you watch the midday sun passes through beautiful stain glass windows in a church and illuminates the whole interior in a wash of colours and warmth. This is not a pre-rendered cutscene, this is gameplay!
On the subject of gameplay, expect your usual healthy dose of parkour fun as you run and jump on the rooftops of Gay Paris. There is the occasional (and now trademark Assassin’s Creed) glitch of your character not quite going the way you wanted or doing something you wanted, an annoyance that most Assassin’s Creed players have just come to expect. It seems however, more present in this game as on more than one occasion I have found myself pressing the button to jump on my Dual Shock 4 only to have my character hanging there like a fruit basket.
The story of Unity follows the life of our new protagonist Arno Dorian, a young French noble who by through various tragedies early on in the game, finds himself becoming an Assassin for The Order and uncovering devious plots and conspiracies of the Templars amidst the chaos of a nation on the brink of revolution.
I found it hard to like Arno throughout my playthrough of the story. Sure, he was not as lifeless and devoid of emotion that Conner was in Assassin’s Creed 3, but no matter how hard I tried I had no emotional investment in the character. Even with his love interest and sometimes feisty partner Elise de la Serre, I was uninterested and simply wanted to move onto the next mission.
And this is the flaw with Unity. The story is forgettable. Throughout my 15 hour playthrough of just the story missions I was finding it hard to maintain interest in what was going on. I didn’t know why I was going to point A to kill person B I just did it to move along the narrative. The games does try and break up the story and give you a few refreshing gameplay twists that are genuinely enjoyable, but they are few and far inbetween and before you know it the story is finished with a somewhat underwhelming ending.
Aside from the story missions there are quite literally hundreds of things to do from Assassination missions to collectables throughout Paris. At one point I paused the game and brought up the interactive map and whelped at the sheer size of the challenge that was before me if I was to 100% the game. If you’re a ‘completionist’ then you’ll be busy for quite a while with Unity.
With that in mind however, I’m finding it hard to come up with an excuse to continue playing Unity as the games flaws suck the fun out of playing it. Even after a hefty amount of patches weighing in at 6.7GB I’ll still be faced with people walking out of the middle of trees or the next stage of a mission not activating forcing me to restart the game..
Hopefully this is not the shape of things to come in the newer, shinier generation of gaming as this is not what gamers deserve when they lay down their hard earned cash.
** 1/2 (/5) Stars
Out: Now Publisher: Ubisoft Platforms: PS4, Xbox, PC Buy:PS4