REVIEW – The French Revolution was one of the most important events in human history, so it’ no wonder, that the makers of Assassin’s Creed chose this setting as a backdrop for their next game in the series. In Assassin’s Creed: Unity you lead a young Frenchman, Arno Dorian who joins the ranks of the assassins while his love interest, Elise de La Serre becomes a Templar. Interesting premise but what we were more curious about is whether the game about the famous Revolution brought the much needed (r)evolution into the all too familiar series?
Pleasant and unpleasant surprises both abound in this latest Assassin’s Creed game, which revolves around the French Revolution. It’s also not without some small and some severe hiccups – you probably already heard about some of them. Many of the enormous bugs, which now became famous are taken care of but Assassin’s Creed: Unity in its present form still has some severe framerate drops and funny bugs.
Arno is quite the charmer
What’s indubitably a rather high point of the game is the story – even if it has its share of weaknesses as well. The game starts with a terrific prologue, with first a mission in which we lead a Templar for a short time in 1314 when the famous Templar, Jacques De Moley gets burned than we switch to the child Arno Dorian, whose father gets killed by a “familiar” Templar. Flash forward to 1789, with a twenty-something years Arno who was fostered by another Templar, le Marquis de la Serre, but some events (which we won’t spoil anymore) are forcing Arno soon to become a young assassin.
While the story of the game has its share of clichés, it’s still quite well developed, and a lot more focused than the one in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Arno is a likeable character: he looks and acts a bit like Gérard Philippe in Fanfan La Tulipe first, but he becomes a more serious assassin later. Yes, the Ezio vibe is here, but he’s different enough not to call him a simple copycat.
I also liked the way the story progress and used the Revolution. It would have been too simple to make the assassins the revolutionaries, and it’s, fortunately, more complex than that. There are some great side characters in the game as well, some of those historical, like the Marquis de Sade and Robespierre and some of them fictional who reminded me personages from a book of Victor Hugo.
However, there are some weak points in the story. Arno and Elise’s relationship isn’t convincing, and some cutscenes with them feel a bit forced. There are also some illogical or clichéd points in the focused story, but otherwise, it’s rather well developed.
“Vive la Révolution?” Not quite…
Besides the story, the game is rather an evolution than a revolution which one would expect from the first truly next-gen title of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Besides the graphics what truly changed is the combat and parkour system – but both have their share of flaws as well. Combat became a lot more realistic and difficult, and you are no more such a killing machine like you were ever since Assassin’s Creed 2. Yes, you can roll, and defend yourself, but if you don’t pay attention you can get slain easily by even some low ranked soldier. Combat movements are also more refined than ever, with awesome sword dances, finishers and the coup de graces.
However, there are some actions which are more awkward than in the previous games, like the pistol and rifle shooting. There is also a sneaking and cover system which is pretty functional and not always enjoyable throughout the game. It’s somewhat strangely weaker than the one in Watch Dogs.
The free-form parkour system is the bit more realistic and better looking as well, shame that it doesn’t always work as intended. Getting stuck, or not being able to properly enter a window or a door is still present in this game, after so many years which is a bit of a shame. While Ubisoft advertised a lot how the parkour is different and better this time around, besides some small cosmetic changes I didn’t feel so much difference, to be honest.
Paris worth a mass? Definitely.
If there is one thing which is indeed “Magnifique,” however, it’s the recreation of the revolutionary Paris. As one would expect, there are massive crowd scenes with a huge amount of people gathering everywhere, sometimes roaring, at times singing La Marseillaise, orators giving solemn speeches and other various happenings related to one of the biggest revolutions in the history of humanity.
And while it really feels like you are in the heart of the Revolution in many parts of Paris, there are other areas of the city, where people are doing their everyday activities, talking to each other, robbers, and killers harassing people, etc.
By the way: the way of freeing people from bandits harassing innocents like in the first Assassin’s Creed game is back again. After doing this several times you earn some credit, but it gets a bit repetitive after a while.
As you would expect the graphics of the game are pretty good if not that jaw-dropping then you would expect from a “truly next-gen experience” as Ubisoft advertised the game. Of course, the majority of Paris looks gorgeous, but so did the Caribbean cities in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag to be honest and I don’t see a significant difference here. The citizens in bigger crowds still look a bit zombie-like, and because of stupid bugs they sometimes act strangely.
Le Jour de Gloire est arrivé?
“The day of glory”? Not quite. Assassin’s Creed: Unity is a good entry in the series, but it’s far from the shining 9/10 or even 10/10 it must have been awarded. Instead, it’s an 8/10, which I even have to ponder, whether this deserves such a score. While the bugs were major issues, I won’t dwell on that much, since patches were already made and another major patch is in the making, but… oh boy. Suffice to say that to release this game in such a state was an insult to the AC fans.
The much-advertised parkour doesn’t feel different from the old one and sticking to walls and other objects is still an annoying issue.
As for the general gameplay: it still feels very Assassin’s Creed II, so if you still yearn to play the same kind of game (although very much refined) with a different setting, story, and hero you will be satisfied, but if you expected a real “Revolution”, you would be disappointed.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity is a good entry in the series, but it’s far from the shining 9/10 or even 10/10 it must have been awarded. What can I say to this “meagre” 8/10, which it received, and which I even have to ponder, whether this game deserves such a score or not? Sacrebleu!
+ Good story, which gets better and better
+ Arno is a likable hero
+ 1789 Paris is very impressive
– Bugs, bugs, and bugs – even after the patches
– Not much of a revolution
– Side-quests are pointless and boring
Genres: TPS, action, Open world
Publication: 2014 November