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Aug 19 2017

Late Assassins Creed Unity Review

Don’t do it. Do not do this to yourself. Don’t waste your time on this absolute piece of shit, no longer having any relevance in the overall AC universe since they killed Desmond off. It’s nothing but 80 hours of collectables and a story that makes you want to blow your brains out.

I’ve only just realised that I never wrote up a review for AC:Rogue so as a very quick overview; It’s a standalone game, the gameplay was very good and a good culmination of the work from AC3 and Black Flag, with ship mechanics that finally worked, only moderately used in the game whilst combined with what wasn’t too bad of a story and some great action scenes, especially in combat. It still has the pain in the ass feature of containing a billion collectables which my OCD just couldn’t not go after, spending more time on that than on actual gameplay, but overall, it was a good game and I liked how it related to the beginning of Unity, though I would have liked this storyline to have been expanded upon later in Unity. So considering the playability of the most recent AC games, by my count, it’s upto you on whether to play 3, skip Black Flag, definitely play Freedom Cry, play Rogue and skip this piece of shit.

I really don’t feel in the mood to go in-depth in this review, as I’ve felt I spent far too long on this game, somewhere around 100 hours and I really don’t want to spend any longer having to type this review on this crap. My problem is that I’ve got a mountain of notes beside me which I might aswell make use of, plus there is so much more steam I need to let out.

To get started, lets ruin the back of the envelope story for everyone, as there’s nothing to it, it makes no sense and doesn’t inspire players, if anything it makes us hate all the characters and sadly the French as well.

The story starts with a kid called Arno who’s Assassin father is assassinated in front of him and is then adopted by some dickhead Templar. After having been raised for so many years as basically a stable boy alongside his adoptive father’s daughter, his adoptive father is killed by another Templar due to squabbles in the organisation within France that is currently going through the French Revolution. Arno goes after the killer and learns about the world of Assassin’s and Templars, also only now learning that his adoptive dad and step-sister were Templars all along. For some fucked up reason, he doesn’t understand that he was nothing but a trophy and that everyone treat him like a piece of shit, instead he’s sad even though his dickhead step-dad raised his daughter his way and ignored his adoptive son though it would have also made more sense to train him as a middle finger to the Assassins.

The rest of the game is pretty much Arno chasing skirt whilst going after some guy who’s encouraging the revolution effort to take down the current King of France. Arno fails at foiling Germain’s plans miserably at times, so all those bodies of henchman left lying behind you, were technically for nothing. Along the way, he meets a few famous faces of the past, most notably Napoleon, which made not an ounce of fucking sense, who only gives you the most boring, stupidest missions I’ve ever had to complete in a game and later on in the DLC, Arno seems to be out to get him for absolutely no reason, though they seemed to be best mates just two minutes prior. At the end of Unity, the bad guy Germain pulls out an artifact out of his arse, a really boring boss fight ensues which is nothing but just walking around him in a circle to stab him in his back, at some point, he then kills your girlfriend, so so much for all that chasing skirt earlier as it turns out that she’s not even your fucking ancestor if she’s fucking dead, so that was fucking pointless, and clearly Arno didn’t give a shit about her, as he must have banged someone later on to pass on his genetic memories, so what a massive waste of time all that story was.

In the DLC, Dead Kings, there’s some mentions to an Iron Mask, which puts in mind the DiCaprio film with the musketeers, and I don’t know why the story didn’t go down that fucking route, considering the game is called Unity and has so many Co-op elements placed throughout. Surely it would have made 100x more sense to have played with friends as musketeers who just so happened to be Assassins, trying to save Kings and various damsels and whatever else needed doing during the revolution. The problem with the co-op elements in Unity is that they don’t actually fit into the story, it’s just Arno and his bird he want’s to bang (and to be honest, she’s nothing to really look at), plus also the fact that Arno at some point gets kicked out of the Assassins (which I thought was to the death, you can’t simply be just exiled with all those secrets whilst also being a bit of a loose cannon) so those co-op missions should have technically disappeared. They should have gone down the musketeer route so that there would have been 3-4 hero characters that you could have filled out with friends, experiencing the campaign together or be allowed to swap between the characters just like in GTA5. I’m sure it would make sense that 300 years down the line, their genetic DNA had come together in an offspring, which actually would go towards making these genetic memories ‘stronger’ rather than suffering these bullshit crashes that would occur in the campaign, in which someone outside of the Animus machine would make out the server you were currently living in was crashing and that they had to move you to another server to hide you from Abstergo. I’ve still to play it on my PS4, but in Syndicate, I’m sure that you can switch between playing as a Sister and Brother pair, possibly finally getting the Co-op feature to work maybe, though I’ll have to double-check that one as it could potentially mean that their offspring is the product of incest if it has the genetic memories of both people, which I doubt Ubisoft would go down the route of, so I’m probably wrong, which then probably means that they never implemented Co-op properly, ever. (*EDIT* Whilst having completed my review, I decided to do some research on this, and found that it turns out the twins memories can be experienced due to it not being the Animus at work here, but the Helix system that allows anyone to experience anyone’s memory from the past. As much as I do remember mentions to this in Unity and Black Flag, I didn’t actually have any idea how what exactly it was referring to. If I had been fully aware of this earlier, it may have allowed the previous games to make more sense, but I guess things do get confusing when you’ve got a billion side notes that have been spread out around facilities in no particular order that you have to collect over 50 hours and still have any focus remaining to make sense of what they say about the Helix system.)

I’ve no idea really why the modern day Assassins wanted to experience the memories of Arno, as he doesn’t reveal where something like an artifact might be hidden, there was something about looking for a Sage but he gets killed anyway, and I think from that point, the sage is pretty much useless to anyone, so not sure why any of this is happening at all. The artifact he does find in the DLC gets sent off to some Assassin somewhere in the world, so if anything, that’s the one they need to go after. As I’ve been so invested in the Assassin Universe for so long, I want to see some advancement in the overall story. Being fooled into playing a game with no consequences to the universe gives me little reward for all the hours I’ve put in.

Now the only way you can advance the story really is by unlocking some gear to take on the increasing difficult enemies that block your way. They get pretty strong pretty quickly, and your basic loadout is no match against them. So to unlock and upgrade your gear, your going to have to complete a lot of the repetitive side quests and collect pretty much most of the collectables. The hours of Twitch streams I clocked up whilst just mind numbingly running around the map was into the triple digits. There must have been thousands of collectables, and hundreds of side quests that don’t really have any impact on the story or Arno’s character development. There may have been some character development for the side characters, but not in positive way. Most of these quests lacked any common sense, with the worst having to just walk with Napoleon who’s trying to get off with some virtual bird that he ends up forgetting about anyhow. THIS IS NOT HOW I WANT TO SPEND MY RESPITE TIME, JUST WALKING WITH AI CHARACTERS FOR 5 MINUTES WHO DON’T THEN SAY ONE SINGLE WORD TO EACH OTHER. THIS IS AN ACTION GAME, NOT FUCKING COOKING MAMA.

Honestly, I spent an entire week just going after collectables, I had to take a 3 month break from this game as my brain was melting out of my ears. I gave up after about 90% collected, having finally fully upgraded all my gear and wanting to just get this game over and done with as soon as possible at this point. I struggle to wonder if the game can be completed any quicker than that though, as you do need this gear otherwise you’ll just be constantly swarmed by enemies with no chance of beating them. Being stupidly swarmed is something I’ll expand on later. I have definitely gone off collecting stuff in games now, and will honestly be double questioning myself on whether I should be wasting my time doing this, rather than being led along like a sheep. I get that it is to fill the game out and keep players playing the game, especially alongside the repetitive co-op missions, but this is taking the biscuit with no ingenuity on the developer’s parts.

One of the most annoying sidequests are the riddles, which after tackling all 18! Will unlock an outfit to look like armour, though it doesn’t actually give you any stat boosts. The problem with the riddles, coming from someone who used to be in Mensa (not trying to brag), is that half of them don’t make a fucking ounce of sense. The point of the riddle is that it’s supposed to send you around town, looking for either the next riddle or the quest enclosing reward, but unless you’ve logged that certain areas of maps contain glowing glyphs, you wouldn’t otherwise think to ever go there to look for a riddle answer. I had to refer to the Internet constantly throughout these quests as I was interested in getting the armour I had no idea was completely worthless, and even the Internet struggled to understand what the writers were aiming for, themselves having only found the answers by pot luck, so massive fail there.

To break up this doom and gloom, the only thing I can say positively about this game is that the graphics are very nice. Though there were some massive glitches prominently reported when the game was first released, that only makes the series look more of a joke, damaging it’s reputation further. Being The Late Gamer, I was able to experience the game years after release, in which most of the bugs had been sorted, so the game looked pretty good throughout. There was only a few glitches I ever encountered in the 100 hours of gameplay. The textures in the game are really fantastic, amazingly realistic and for certain buildings such as Notre-Dame, are built to such a high standard with plenty of attention to detail from the ground up. Statues and brick work were fantastic to look at, seeing as your constantly scaling up walls with nothing else to look at, and even little details such as the guttering were brilliant. I actually followed the entire guttering system, seeing that it all perfectly lined up and would have worked perfectly well in real life. Plenty of other structural features are also included, nothing has been left out and the developers have done a fantastic job catching all this detail.

 

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Again, on my SLI 970s, I was able to run the game perfectly fine on Very High settings for my Ultrawide 1080p monitor with a second screen playing videos throughout. Only compromises was turning Nvidia Technologies off as always as well as using FXAA for anti-aliasing. It looked fantastic throughout, with textures sometimes flickering when fast travelling around, which was easily fixed by just re-enacting the fast travel out.

Character models for npcs did look pretty shit though, with faces that just looked absolutely repugnant and barren of thought. It would at times break immersion with how bad they looked, especially compared to the rest of the game looking perfect.

I did find I had issues playing this game with a PS4 controller, with it not being natively supported, as the game would activate bumper buttons even though I was only pressing in the trigger buttons. Playing on my Xbox One controller solved this.

I did like the return to the series’ roots in regards to the combat. Health potions are back, leaving it to the player to manage their own health, though in some fights I could end up using all 10 potions in an instant due to NPCs constantly drilling into you. Inflicting damage to npcs is done usually by hitting down on them a few times to open up their defence, then getting your sword into the opening, though it was hard to follow up on constantly attacking a single enemy as other mob members would attack you, causing you to having to instigate a block maneuver, breaking your chain of attacks, all whilst trying to avoid npcs on the outside of battle shooting you and throwing in flash bombs. The shooting was a joke, with no defense against them other than timing a role, otherwise you would have to try to break out of combat and run towards the shooter, who would then just switch to melee weapons, putting up a defense whilst the enemies you left behind now pulled out their guns, repeating the cycle of running around amongst them, doing the smallest of damage, causing scuffles to go on forever. Most times I would have to refer to smoke bombs to stun local enemies and hide from snipers, doing plenty of damage with no challenge. All I ever had to do was make sure to have a constant supply of smoke bombs available. I was also disappointed with the range of pistols, and couldn’t carry a rifle for the increased range as this would replace my main weapon rather than the pistol, meaning that I was now carrying two firearms that shared only something like 9 bullets between them. Pistols were also useless for auto-aiming onto enemies, as even as you were looking at the enemy you wanted to shoot at, this didn’t count as targeting, instead Arno would just shoot the enemy closest to him, making it more difficult once again to take out any snipers in the middle of combat.

Skills would unlock by spending points that were gained from completing story and co-op missions. As I didn’t play all the co-op missions, I didn’t unlock all the skills, so there was parts of combat I never experienced such as poison bombs and long weapon mastery, which meant you would be limited really to one type of weapon, making combat quite repetitive very quickly. You can no longer disarm enemies or pick weapons up off the ground, so you no longer really get to experience the combat animations assigned to these weapons. I felt that compared to Rogue though, the gadgets and weapons didn’t really hold up, seeing as in Rogue, set so many years before Unity, you had items such as a grenade launcher which would have really helped in this game. Also the fact that throwing knifes are out, what the fuck do Assassin’s do these days in their training, seeing as in the old games, you could use that weapon perfectly undetected, whilst using the mini-crossbow attached to your wrist that is supposed to be the silent alternative to using a pistol is always detected by enemies, fucking up so many well planned operations, meaning that eventually I resigned to just running straight into compounds rather than stalking it out due to no benefit of wasting time silently infiltrating when I would always get detected doing the stealthiest of actions.

I can’t believe Shaun makes yet another fucking return to the series. The most boring of characters and celebrities to be involved in the series, how this character hasn’t been killed off yet is a surprise to me. If anyone was a Templar in real life, it’s going to be this guy, purposefully putting such a fucking downer on the series. I’ve been waiting for this guy’s demise since the first time he was introduced to the series, having had to watch lesser annoying characters die off instead such as Desmond and Lucy (though if the writers ever realise that they’re in charge of such a critical series, they might one day bring her back though that should really be said for Desmond, though we know that he was cut up into pieces from Black Flag to ensure that he would never make a return, I wonder if the writers had a falling out with his voice actor Nolan North and took it out on him in the game). (Having just typed that last bit, I did a quick google on the subject and found this interesting thread of Nolan North giving a talk about the Desmond character. I’ve not watched the video yet, but having got the gist of it, it seems that what he says is how he hated how Desmond ended up becoming a whiny bitch and would have originally become the ultimate assassin by learning from 6 master assassins experiences in total, which sounds much more in line with what the original game had in store for Desmond, though apparently a developer has shut him down in his comments, though I’m more inclined to believe Nolan North than some prick who’s ruined a series with great potential and wasted thousand of hours of my life.)

One thing that actually saved me a tonne of grinding (thank fuck) was that a patch had been released that meant we didn’t have to play the mobile companion app to unlock chests in the games. The chests don’t really offer much but outfits that have no relevance to gameplay, but still, I gave the app a go and it was dead boring, setting assassins to assignments and then coming back to your phone a few hours later to do it all over again. There needs to be more to mobile games than this. I feel sorry for the players that did buy this game on release, with fucked up graphics and discovering that parts of the game where hidden behind a companion game, I know I would have been even more pissed than I already am. Again, why I’m glad to be a Late Gamer.

So we’ve touched on story, graphics and combat, there’s only one field left we ain’t explored and that’s exploration, in the form primarily as parkour. As usual, there’s always parts that work and parts that don’t properly, usually something different in each game. In this one, I liked that if you jumped onto a wall by accident, you could do a quick flick of the controller and Arno would seamlessly roll off the wall, continuing in the original direction at top speed. This usually required instead having to press B to get them down from the surface, that would usually slow you right down. I did find that he was too sensitive though at times of jumping onto nearby surfaces and would get stuck on tables and stacks of boxes that would take some work to get him off from. They have taken out the ability of being able to hold RT than press A to jump straight up, instead doing this will cause your character to jump forward even though you’re not pushing forward on your stick. I also did miss that you could climb up a building instantly by tapping on A whilst scaling a building which would make your character leap upwards, whether there was a grasp hold there or not, instead you can only take direct routes up a building in this game, and some of these routes don’t actually go anywhere, sometimes causing you to get stuck as you weren’t able to just simple drop down from, so would have to go all the way back you’d just come. Also I felt that the hay pile detection mechanism was broken at times, clearly jumping off the building at designated points that were supposed to aim directly for hay piles, instead falling right past them and breaking Arno’s spine on impact. This would get annoying when occurring in the middle of missions. I also felt that the distance he could fall without taking damage was quite small, I even later equipped boots that should have allowed him to fall an extra 80% distance without taking damage but I never found they worked, usually as he would still end up dead. There was much more running on roof tops than had been present in the previous two games in the series as all the buildings were much closer together just like in AC2 Italy, seeing as the American Frontier contains buildings and farmsteads that are so spread out from each other.

Arno is capable in this game of swimming, though it’s not really used for any missions. Also there’s no use of mortar weapons and cannons that have also been popular in previous games. There’s no use of a single vessel that can be used for fast exploration in the game, such as a horse in the original games or a ship in the later ones. Everywhere is travelled to via foot or fast travels. It can take quite a while having to constantly run back and forward everywhere. Paris is certainly a vast place, and there are a far-flung of buildings that will load into view, giving a great impression of distance and immensiveness, with the streets full of protesting npcs. There are some areas where there must have been a thousand of npcs waving their arms and signs, so that was a good stress of the system and game engine. The npcs can be quite interesting to watch going about their business, carrying heads on pikes etc.

One thing that did surprise me in the game was the Unity Intro Title screen. I had played something of like 4 hours of gameplay, having logged onto the game 3 times in this time, all whilst having watched Arno go from childhood to becoming a man, doing a few missions with him, only then for a late intro of the game finally announcing that I was playing Unity, in case of any confusion.

There are segments as mentioned before, where the simulation will crash, and you will have to jump servers, which starts a minigame in which you go to an alternative time in Paris history. The three time periods are 1898, First World War and medieval France. You can come back to these areas for some additional sidequests, though there’s not much to explore and your under a time limit whilst here. It was nice to see the Eiffel tower up close at one point, an essential part of Paris that would have limited the experience if it had not been included. It’s a shame we don’t get to play in this era, ie World War and was hoping that the recent announcement in the series would allow this, instead AC7 is taking us to Ancient Egypt, which I’m sort of psyched for, as I like Egypt, but feel that the storyline will have already been amazingly tackled by the Stargate TV series in relation to Egyptian Gods and aliens, so this game will probably not quite compare in that aspect, if it doesn’t somehow manage to fuck it up anyhow. I’m sure Ubisoft also know that The Great Wars will also be the biggest selling games of the series and holding back on it for when they need to regain popularity in the series. I do think Ubisoft do a great job of transporting us to these eras to experience, as I actually did learn quite a bit about the French Revolution that I never took any interest in when I was forced to learn it in my History and French lessons as a kid.

What I will say, is that between my school French teachers and all the characters in this game, the French do seem to be ignorant dicks. Every single character in this game has no remorse for each other, treating each other like garbage, obnoxious to what was ever said to them, etc. The worst culprit is Arno himself, nothing but a piece of shit who doesn’t really give a shit about his dead dad though as a grown man, cries like a baby whenever he loses his watch memento. Arno then kills his fucking mentor who only ever wanted to sort the creed out, even after this guy actually pulled Arno out of the gutter, trained him up like the son he never had, something which Arno’s adoptive father never did who only treated him as a stable boy as he raised his daughter at that time to be a Templar, he also actually saved Arno’s father at one point as the two where the best of friends, and he offered to let Arno rule by his side, instead Arno cries because Bullec kills (as his career choice would sort of determine him to do) the previous leader of the Assassins justifiably in an attempt of ridding the creed of softness and corruption. This was a massive downer to the story and if this had actually gone the other way, I would have been able to get much more behind the campaign, ridding the Creed of corrupt Assassins. Arno basically represented everything wrong with people, shortsighted, looking out for themselves, thinking their own cause is almighty and trying to get his dick wet by some bitch that would walk all over him.

At one point in the game, I actually activated the Dead Kings DLC by accident, which resulted in some massive spoilers whilst I was still trying to piece the main game together. I then couldn’t leave the DLC until I had completed a mission, then had to explore the entire add-on map for a way out of the city and back into the main campaign. I would have preferred that the DLC had stayed locked until the end of the main campaign to have prevented any chance of accidentally having activated it, as it was only something else that happened to piss me off about this game.

The worst part about this game was the AI. Though there are people walking the streets with heads on pikes, I’m the character that is always under suspicion from guards for just walking past them. It was a pain in the ass constantly being pointed out for acting as a normal person as the rest of the world is falling apart around me. I don’t understand how as an Assassin, someone who is meant to be able to hide in the shadows, can be constantly picked out by guards from miles away, who I’m sure haven’t even been debriefed on keeping an eye out for such individuals. Worser yet are the missions in which areas will just be absolutely surrounded by guards, meaning you have no chance of infiltrating an area undetected and I honestly do mean that some of these missions are absolutely fucked up with the number of guards on site. There was one mission in which I have to retrieve some guy’s poem for some time-wasting reason, I get to the site, and no word of a lie, there was guards on every single floor, covering all the entrances, just to protect a fucking poem! There’s a fucking revolution going on for fuck sake with a King and his family locked up in Palace somewhere. How about going over there and actually being useful in some way and just burn down this guy’s house if you haven’t got the time to guard it, rather than giving it a 30 man patrol. So fucked up and beyond believe, it broke every remaining shred of immersion I had left in the game.

As much as I really wanted to like this game, essentially based off the graphics, I was done with the broken mechanics, bad story and characters about a quarter the way in. I had to force myself so hard to complete this repetitive shit, as I’ve now done this for like the 8th installment in the Assassin games, and I’m really questioning with continuing with this series. There’s no fresh action and I’m definitely going to have a break before tackling the next one, which I probably wouldn’t be bothering to play if it wasn’t for the fact that I already own it on the PS4. I have had a quick go on it, and I’m very unsure of what to think of it.

As far as I can tell, Unity has no relevance in AC lore, and will probably never be referred to again in the later games, so I would recommend on skipping this one unless you really want to play as a motionless bodyguard for Napoleon and his girlfriend.

 

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