Note: Ubisoft declined to send a review copy, so we’re not constrained by review embargo dates as the copy reviewed was bought by the reviewer out of his own pocket. Not cheaply either…
Assassin’s Creed: Unity marks the 8th entry into the main series of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, a franchise that has become a yearly event looked forward to by many, reviled by others..
Ubisoft’s insistence that we need a new Assassin’s Creed game every year has brought a level of stagnation to the popular open-world stealth adventures, but Assassin’s Creed: Unity looks to buck the trend by presenting an entirely fresh approach – but does it live up to the hype? Or has the series fallen on its own blade? Read on for the full Assassin’s Creed: Unity review.
For me the historical tales that are told within the Assassin’s Creed games are a big factor; I’m one of the few who enjoyed Desmond’s story arch and didn’t find Conner Kenway in Assassin’s Creed III a total boring douche.
Thankfully the story isn’t anywhere near as convoluted as some previous entries (Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, I’m looking at you buddy.) You step into the robes of French Assassin Arno Dorian.
The affable Assassin harks back to the days of Ezio Auditore with his flair, panache and charm, though he’s not as black and white as the Italian killer. No, Arno is a little deeper than almost all previous Assassins. His back story is particularly interesting having being adopted by the Templar Grandmaster after his birth father was slain.
That’s not the only link to the ‘dark-side’ that Arno has either; he fancies the frocks off of the Templar Grand Master’s daughter, too. Ouch.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s story is littered with subplots, many of which are found within the side-quests that play out alongside the main storyline. More on that later though.
Without giving too much away, Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s main storyline is a coherent tale that’s told well through a cast of memorable characters, though it does at times feel a bit all over the place. The main reason being that missions are no longer set out like previous games, instead it’s more in line with the original Assassin’s Creed, minus the lengthy cut-scenes that many criticised after its release. Personally, I enjoyed them,
You’ll be tasked with following out a few simple errands, as per, and then you’re presented with an area that houses your target and it’s your task to take out your would-be victim in any manner that you please. It strips away the linear, cinematic set-pieces (though there are still a few to be found, and well done, too,) and invites players to play their way.
From a narrative point of view it isn’t the best course by Ubisoft, but from a gameplay stance it works wonders in making players feel like a true Assassin, so it’s swings and round-a-bouts.
The present-day storyline that runs parallel to the Parisian adventures of Arno are somewhat forgettable, unfortunately. Where previous entries made it worth your while being pulled from the Animus and thrust into the hoodie of Desmond Miles, Assassin’s Creed: Unity merely uses the present day as a reason for the game to exist. The brief plot with the modern-day Assassins leaves a lot to be desired, but there’s certainly room for Ubisoft to shift the focus to the present day, should they find a story arc worth exploring as they did so well with the fate of Desmond and his happy gang of Assassin’s.
There’s also some surprise missions thrown in there that many fans of the series will enjoy, possible giving hope for how the future of the series will progress, but to say anymore would spoil the surprise, but trust me, if you’ve ever wondered what Assassin’s Creed would play like if it was set a little bit closer to the modern-day, you’ll be happy. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.
In short, if you’re in for the story and are ready to suspend disbelief for a few hours whilst you traipse around Paris during the French Revolution era, then you’ll be left satisfied. However, if you’re looking for something to anchor the game with a modern setting that gives you a reason for running around France looking all fancy and what not, you’ll be disappointed.
It’s not a bad attempt by any means, though one thing that did strike me as unusual and a little bit annoying was how everyone seems to speak as if they hail from Downton Abbey. Ubisoft has already stated their reasons for giving the characters English accents, but it’s still a bit strange to hear posh English voices mutter the odd French word. It detracts from the story and reminds you that you’re playing a game. Not a big deal as part of the big picture, but worth mentioning non-the-less.