Veteran’s Day saw the release of Assassin’s Creed Unity here in the States. The long awaited next-gen and PC game installment in the franchise. Does the game fall down or does it hit the ball out of the park?
Honest answer? Neither unfortunately. It does some things extraordinarily well and then it turns around and fails just as spectacularly at others. FYI, we play on the XboxOne.
Let’s get the abysmal failures out of the way first.
- Frame Rate: the game can flat out freeze for seconds at a time or it can quickly become slide show theatre for a few seconds. These don’t last very long or occur very frequently but the fact they occur at all is a problem.
- Sound Cuts Out: this is annoying beyond words. Walking along and boom Paris goes silent, or mid sentence all sound cuts off. Again happens for seconds and then everything returns to normal but once again, not something that should occur period.
- Story: Massive, unforgivable story holes that if you’ve never played the franchise before would leave you confused and unclear what Arno was doing or why. Also, since when did the Brotherhood Oath change? There are just massive issues with the way the Brotherhood was written. And since when did an Assassin become so well known that he is casually greeted walking down the street by strangers, commoners and noble alike? The Templar vs. Assassin tension is flat out missing.
- External Integration: AC Initiates is a complete mess as of this writing. It fails to show whole games not being played and has lost levels compared to when AC IV was the new game. AC Initiates also does not have new content ready to go for Unity despite the game being released which is just poor implementation. Uplay is spotty in it’s connectivity and usefulness. It too is missing games previously played. The Companion App is wonderful, that is if it hasn’t lost your Nomad Brotherhood entirely. The App works perfectly for me and is useless for hubby because his Nomads have proven their French heritage and gone on strike.
- Micro Transactions: Really? Just Really? Pay to Win transactions for a game that doesn’t have true multiplayer and would be even worse if true multiplayer existed.
- Co-Op: Failure to include split screen co-op or co-op similar to Diablo III is unforgivable.
- Rebecca and Shawn: They’ve been there for every game since AC II and now they are suddenly missing? No seriously, where are they and why are these strange people talking to me about Abstergo? Am I an Assassin or am I just some tourist in an amusement park ride?
Here are the things that AC Unity has gotten incredibly right.
- Story: There is a story once again, almost worthy of the glorious story telling of the three AC II installments. Yes, there are glaring holes and gaps in the story but by god there is a story. I can run around Paris and meet people and help them out once again. I helped Mme. Tussaud yesterday. I actually like Arno, compared to my disdain for Edward Kenway.
- Companion App: Kudos to Ubisoft for offering the companion app on more than just a couple of devices and kudos for the app itself. The rendering of Paris and real time updates are incredible. The ability to read the database outside of the game at my leisure is something I truly appreciate.
- Paris: The city is huge. There are less viewpoints in this game but you can see much, much further on each and every viewpoint. The streets are crowded, the crowds react to you and the environment, and the tension between the factions is evident.
- Co-Op: It isn’t reliant on you having a friends list populated by friends also playing the game. It utilizes the matchmaking system to let solo’rs play the co-op missions. I haven’t tried it yet, but I undoubtedly will at some point.
- Paris Throughout History: Helix rifts are a new type of game play that allow the player brief glimpses of alternate history of Paris throughout the ages. Some of these are stunningly gorgeous.
- No SAILING: no seriously, no sailing is a huge thing for me. AC IV was unplayable for me because of all the damn sailing required. AC Rogue might have a great story but it has sailing, so if we get it I’ll watch the story unfold as hubby plays.
- Micro Transactions: Kudos for Ubisoft for recognizing that fools and their money are soon parted. We won’t be buying any of the micro transaction currency but hey if Ubisoft can make money from stupid people, go for it.
For me, the game is completely enjoyable. I loose track of time. None of the failures of the game have detracted from my enjoyment. Sound and frame rate issues are hiccups but haven’t caused me to cuss or hurl my controller in frustration.
Overall, Ubisoft did well but not amazing. They need to hire more QA staff and not release games until they are ready rather than sticking to the “every fall” time table. Unity and the external companions could have benefitted greatly from another quarter or two of polishing. Instead, Ubisoft rushed the game to market and risked customer goodwill. They’ve earned some of my trust back with the story once again being present. They need to vastly improve their customer communication about fixes and problems. They are all over Twitter when it suits them but when there are problems they fall silent. Silence in today’s market place will kill a game far quicker than bugs.