Assassin's Creed Unity

Assassin's Creed Unity made an awful first impression on me. It's as if every problem ever reported in an already notoriously glitch-filled game waited to bombard me within the first hour. I'll open the review with the ludicrous investment on your system to be able to play the game. The first night I had it, my disc copy made an outrageous 50GB install - then the game proceeded to download a 6.51GB update, then I was forced to download all of the free DLC before I could play. I don't know if you know this - but the PS4 isn't quite a wide open pasture flush with space, which is why I bought the disc version (I was under the impression the install wouldn't be SO big).

The story is the same as most other Assassin's Creed games. You are Arno, a kid with a bit of a traumatic past who becomes an assassin after being verbally abused by one in prison. For the most part, he's an average Joe in every sense of the term, but he kills people for a living (forget the job description, it's in the title). Mix in a few story twists and turns and you have the next AC installment.

There are some weird sequences in Assassin's Creed Unity. One that stood out was when Arno was becoming an assassin, he got high on... Something? and raced through a dream of an alternate reality. There's also really cool parts where you'll be transported to a different time period, but one specific part has two turret segments with mounted machine guns. It was really out of the blue and confused me more than impressed me.
The game definitely looks great when it's working.
 Unity will take you a good long time to complete, let alone master. I'm about 40 hours in and I've beaten the main game and the lion's share of optional missions - but I still have hundreds of things to collect around Paris and the Dead King's DLC which I haven't even touched yet - not to mention getting all the trophies I can in the process. If this is the direction next-gen games are going - I'm fine with it. I feel like I've gotten more than my money's worth with Assassin's Creed Unity.

The visuals are so nice and crisp, and such a hot mess at the same time. I experienced frequent frame rate drops and a LOT of model / texture pop-in all over the world in missions, free-roam, and co-op alike. In cut-scenes, it's like the game is trying to catch up with itself with what seemed like constant dynamic graphic adjustments. The lighting and shadows look great, and most buildings are opened up to wander around in - but I can't help but feel like the settings and openness of the world could have been turned down a bit from 11 so the game would run smoother. It's only a matter of time before developers, especially the ones with the resources of Ubisoft, will learn to master the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (and, from what I hear, advanced PC's as well) - but Unity isn't where we should set the bar, it's a great starting point though.

The customization is really cool, however - you get to choose all equipment from weapons to headgear. Once you unlock a decent amount of color palettes and armor, it feels great to make the assassin you want to be. A lot of the joy in Unity comes when the game lets go and gives you control, but the game often times is hesitant to let you do your thing. There's a small bit of emphasis later in the game on making Arno, or your online assassin look like previous protagonists, but thankfully you're not forced into it.
The game shines in small, controlled areas.
You'll hear the same cries and murmurs from the citizens of Paris, and the same conflict music over and over again every time you play for more than a half-hour. Other than that, there's only a few stand-out voice-over performances and most other sounds are passable if not a touch cliche at this point. There is nothing in this iteration of AC that you haven't heard before

It's no secret once you get in the game and past the parts that are meant to impress (but instead crash your PS4), the game gets a lot better. One thing that is understandable, yet annoying still, are the loading times. Every time you fast travel, die and have to reload, or move into a separate area - you're going to face a ridiculous 20-30 second black screen. There's a lot of stuff to be loaded, but maybe that is a sign that this was too ambitious of a project.

Again, I'll say - this is another Assassin's Creed game so you know what you're getting in to. Flashy, solid, skill-based combat (attacking, parrying, and dodging), and sneaky, slow-paced assassination missions. It's because of the gameplay that I kept Unity in my console and on for hours at a time. All the staples are here, you climb something high and magically know where everything is. Then from there, you do side missions, main missions, find treasure chests, pick up other collectibles (artifacts and ribbons), and do Crowd Events.
This is impressive graphically, but will slow you down to a crawl.
 Assassin's Creed Unity might just be ahead of its time, or it might just be a mess. It crashed my PS4 system to the point I needed to unplug it from its power source once. It also has soft-crashed (at the time of this review) twice, which means I could still use the PS4 after the game forced itself to exit. After playing through it in its entirety, I want to give it the benefit of a doubt and call if halfway between a masterpiece and a disaster.

Let's Review:
  • Full of glitches, no more patches in sight
  • Arno is a boring main character
  • Extremely solid gameplay when it's working
  • Sub-par sound design
Assassin's Creed Unity gets a 7 out of 10.

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