Game review: Assassin's Creed Unity

Game review: Assassin's Creed Unity

Plenty has been said about the fiasco that is Assassin's Creed Unity, the latest chapter in Ubisoft's most popular franchise.

One should look at the game from two points of views.

Yes, the game suffered from plenty of glitches in the first few weeks after its release, most notably frame rate and performance issues which made gameplay extremely frustrating and annoying.

I had waited two weeks to play the game, thinking this would give Ubisoft time to correct the errors through a constant roll out of massive patches and updates.

But some issues remain.

Still, the game that appears on screen now is rather different from the one that was launched. Ubisoft has made subtle tweaks to the tone, colour and conditions of the game, and the frame-rate glitches have more or less disappeared.

Should Ubisoft have delayed the launch to next year to fix the glitches? Absolutely.

But now that much of the game has been repaired, there is no denying that Assassin's Creed Unity is a fun game, even if it does not live up to next-generation aspirations.

In this new chapter, which takes place during the French Revolution, you play Arno Dorian, who was very young when his father was murdered.

When his adoptive father is also murdered, Arno discovers that his birth father was an assassin. Arno rises through the ranks of the same organisation his father once belonged to, trying to find out the secrets that led to the deaths of both his fathers.

The storyline merits closer scrutiny. Unlike the technical glitches, which can be fixed, Ubisoft will find it hard to fix the boring, cliched-ridden storyline.

Gamers who have followed the history of Ezio and Connor from previous games would be upset by the by-the-numbers narrative here.

Parents dead. Accused of murder. Thrown in jail. Trains under a master assassin in prison. The love of his life is now his enemy. Secret catacombs.

Hidden trials. I have basically named many literary tropes, and they are all laid out in this game.

I have grown bored with the Assassin's Creed lore - you know, about a modern man who uses a machine that can unlock the memories in his genes that enables him to retrace his ancestry.

Every new game tweaks this premise. The changes in plot with every new game make me think that Ubisoft is just making things up as it goes along.

On top of visiting the late 18th century, the game has Arno hopping across time, appearing during the construction of the Statue of Liberty in the 1870s, and Nazi-occupied France during World War II.

But no matter what era he is thrown into, Arno's skills as a stealth killer serve him well. Players now have more fluid control over their in-game character, as he jumps over roof tops and races through the streets of Paris.

Character animations have improved and Arno's movements now match his parkour skills.

The scope of the game has increased tremendously. Paris, rendered beautifully, has become a massive playground filled with side quests and people to meet.

Missions are more challenging. While there is the usual chasing of victims and killing of certain individuals, some missions require a little planning, and trial and error.

It is not like that other assassination game series, Hitman, but having to plan ahead and devise an escape without being spotted is challenging.

The game introduces a skill tree that players can use to upgrade Arno's combat, stealth and health traits.

Overall, this game is a great addition to the series. When it works, the animation is beautiful, and Unity, even with its flaws, shows the potential that the series is capable of.

sherwinl@sph.com.sg

Rating: 8/10

Price: $74.90 (PlayStation 4, version tested, Xbox One); $59.90 (PC)

Genre: Action


This article was first published on Dec 24, 2014.
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