Yup. I know I briefly covered Assassin’s Creed Unity in a comment on my Assassin’s Creed post, but now that I’ve played it I feel that it almost falls into a completely different category. Well, okay, just remember that I said almost.
I never thought I’d get Unity. I looked at it, looked at the time period, looked at the price, shrugged it off, walked away. When I was given a high recommendation of it (in a comment on my Assassin’s Creed review), I looked for a sale and grabbed it. Sadly, I’ve quite a bit of trouble with the game.
I downloaded it, ran it, and it very nearly bricked my computer. That was partially my fault; I’d been running a dual-SLI 660ti Nvidia build on its minimum recommended power supply for nearly a year (700W). But it wasn’t just me. I’ve never had a game shut my entire computer down. Not even hard-pressing games like Crysis 3. Assassin’s Creed Unity, on the other hand, took one look at my rig, rubbed its hands together in glee, and blinked my computer into oblivion no less than five times. I’m lucky it survived, actually. Eventually I caved in and grabbed a new, 1050W power supply (at least it leaves more room for later upgrades), and those crashes haven’t happened since. But the game is far from smooth. I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried running the game at max settings. I’ve tried running it at minimum settings. Nothing (apart from anti-aliasing) seems to affect how the game runs – it’s choppy, it’s irresponsive, and it’s constantly flicking my screen around. I’m tech-savvy enough to know that my computer is good enough to run the game. I can out-rig pretty much all my buddies, and yet they don’t get the same issues. Assassin’s Creed Unity is terribly optimized (in other words, the development team probably just gave up on it). What gives me the most kicks is that Unity was released the same day as Assassin’s Creed Rogue – and Rogue runs beautifully on high settings for most gamers. Even high-end computers have massive trouble running Unity. Which is a pity, because of the next paragraph.
Paris is pretty. I liked Rome and Venice and Jerusalem more, but Paris is definitely pretty.
The biggest pro for me about Assassin’s Creed Unity is its co-op element. Without that, I doubt it would have gotten as much attention. In fact, it would have fallen out of the sky at launch without co-op (see all other paragraphs). I suppose it goes without saying that I love co-op gameplay. And this is the only co-op Assassin’s Creed game. That’s right. Ubisoft broke its only co-op AC game. I’ve struggled through hours of trying various tweaks, guides, reviews, and more to get the game working. Why? Because I just want to get it to function on my computer. I have gotten a few hours of semi-functional-but-mostly-epileptic gameplay with my friend, and it’s super fun. The co-op, not the epilepsy. The problem is, I can’t seriously play the game with that kind of performance. The number of times I’ve tried to shoot a sharpshooter who is aiming at my buddy and somehow had the screen completely reverse (resulting in me shooting some random object – or civilian) is through the roof. That’s bad for teamwork. The amount of instances I’ve tried to stop my character from lagging into hugging a wall when I’m trying to run either away (which results in my death) or to save my friend (which results in his death) is unbelievable. But when it comes down to the basics of Assassin’s Creed in co-op, it’s a lot of fun to walk and jump around a city in unison. If only it wasn’t threatening to give me epilepsy every five seconds.
Story-wise, Unity is just another Ubisoft Assassin’s Creed game. The character is traumatized from a young age, he wants revenge, he grows up and turns into a killer. He kills people, questions people, etc. We’ve seen it before, and we’ve played it in games that run faster than twenty frames per second. It’s not a bad story, mind you; it’s just that Assassin’s Creed hasn’t tried anything new (until Rogue, but that’s quite literally another story). I haven’t gotten very far into the game, unfortunately, because I’m not a big fan of epilepsy (see above).
Assassin’s Creed Unity is different to all the other AC games. It plays slower. A lot slower. The combat feels less arcade, but is also less realistic. Sure, it’s harder to fight the guards. They can block, stun, drop grenades, and generally do anything we can do. And yet it’s not actually an improvement. In the older Assassin’s Creed games, if someone tried shooting you, you could move behind his buddies to break line-of-fire. In some of those games, holding enemies in front of you was an actual button-press counter to ranged attacks. In Unity, they just ignore their buddies and fire through them to stagger and severely wound you. I don’t care if this is some kind of compensation for player latency (due to co-op gameplay) – this is just poor game design. We can’t fire through civilians (or non-civilians) to hit shooters, so why can they fire through their mates to kill us? Also, even though the old “kill streak” combat option was removed from Unity, the combat still very much goes like this: watch for an attack and hit the parry button. And again. And again. And again. Apart from avoiding pistol shots, this works fantastically and flawlessly. If the combat was to be more challenging, why not allow multiple enemies to attack the character at once? That would present both more challenge and a more realistic feel. Overwhelming numbers means exactly that. Even in a ten-man battle we only have to deflect one at a time in this game. Except for that one shooter who is standing behind a mob of five of his allies and hitting us flawlessly every time.
Assassin’s Creed Unity needs a team to work on it. It’s not finished. It’s still about as functional as a beta release. It needs people to continue on it and make it work. After that’s happened, I’d like to play it.
- Co-op gameplay
- Relatively smooth combat control
- Fluid freerunning
- Historical locations and people
- Decent musical scores
- Beautiful scenery
- Repetitive combat
- Repetitive AI scenarios
- Locked skills (really? I can’t sit on a seat or throw coins on the ground until I earn enough points?)
- Disgusting optimization for PC (and, so far as I’ve heard, Xbox and PlayStation as well)
Question: why, in France, does everyone have a strong British accent? I don’t think I’ve encountered a single character with a convincing French accent yet, and – although my sessions have been sporadic – that’s a lot of gameplay.