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Assassins Creed Unity review

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The Assassins Creed series is one of the best franchises around, with compelling stories and dedication to bringing an authentic look to the most interesting events in human history. This year’s next gen entry, Unity, is no different and it also brings new features that make this game an enjoyable experience, for the most part.

Ubisofts multicultural team does a great job of painstakingly recreating historical cities based off of archaeological finds, museum exhibits, and historical texts. Assassins Creed Unity brings us to Paris during the French Revolution. Parisians are growing restless as the class divide becomes more pronounced. This is reflected in the city as you sludge through the mud in the slum districts and then walk through beautifully designed bourgeois interiors with red carpets and aristocrats sipping fine wines.

The main character this time around is Arno Victor Dorian and his story shares similar elements to Ezio Auditore’s story from Assassins Creed 2 causing it to feel a bit stale. I have enjoyed the story and it does a good job of carrying on the franchise after the conclusion of Desmond’s saga. Even though the story does feel a bit stale, I still enjoyed Arno’s character overall.

There is so much to do in Paris from looting chests, picking locks for better loot, buying and renovating buildings, to completing Assassination contracts. It’s almost overwhelming looking at the whole map and seeing the plethora of icons indicating different collectibles and missions. This is all enhanced by the fact that you’re scaling the rooftops of an authentically rendered version of Paris that features all the landmarks from Notre Dame to the beginning construction of the Eiffel Tower.

In previous Assassins Creed titles the parry system was a bit overpowered allowing the character to parry blows indefinitely, leaving behind a pile of bodies that would make King Leonidas proud. Now enemies are tougher to stop, forcing you to use the full repertoire of tools available to the Assassins. Smoke bombs, noise-makers for distraction, and a few ranged options along with different routes available from underground sewer entrances to open windows allow for different approaches to different missions. Later in the game you will unlock more tools like poison bombs, and you can upgrade Arno’s weapons.

Ubisoft’s improvements to the parkour system are the best they have been in recent titles . Now scaling down a building is effortless since it has been given its own button separated from scaling up buildings. This has introduced a more fluid system of moving across the map, however, the old problems of getting stuck on certain buildings or not knowing exactly where to go next are still here. The occasional awkward movement or extreme framerate drops were jarring considering how smoothly this game normally operates. Textures rendering before my eyes were a bit more common than they should be as I ran through the streets of Paris. If I moved too fast the buildings would take time to show their full detail which can ruin the immersion. I can be a bit forgiving since they city has so much detail and so many people milling about that it quickly re-immerses me into the environment. There are far more buildings to pass through in this game, and many of them are designed so well that I found myself stopping to admire the interiors.

The new customization features brings a new layer to the normal Assassin’s outfit.  Now you can outfit Arno to fit your play style. Do you prefer stalking in the shadows and taking out enemies one-by-one in silence? Then you can equip your character with an outfit that reduces the sound of your footsteps and makes it harder for enemies to notice you.  Or if you’re like me and like to run through the front door guns blazing and blades swinging, then you can equip your character with sturdier armor that gives you more life for absorbing attacks. Either way, there are several gear options that allow you to customize your look and fighting style.

Fighting style is also dependent on which weapon class you choose. The options are one-handed weapons, heavy weapons, and long weapons like spears. Arno also has a pistol or rifle he can carry.  The gear can be upgraded via Assassin points that are gained from pretty much any action you perform in the game from assassinations to completing open world missions.

There is also a companion app that allows you to send members of your own personal brotherhood of Assassins on missions. Along with that you can complete puzzles and track your character on a map via the app. This app is a cool feature that allows you to contribute to your console experience while you’re playing or away from home.

I’m a fan of the Assassins Creed series, but where Assassins Creed 4 was a good game with rehashed elements from previous games, Unity takes risks with a fresh upgrade system, new parkour elements, and a return to the sprawling historical cities of older titles in the franchise.

 

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