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Assassins Creed Unity – First Impressions

As with all Assassins Creed games, there is so much to them that a true fan can’t rush through it. Or at least that’s what I like to think! For those of you who know me well, you will be aware of my dying love for the franchise. I have a lot of merchandise, many collectibles and have spent more than a few pennies on the special editions of the last few games. The latest additions, Unity and Rogue, are now included in my collection and as always I have been excited about playing through them to get the full experience. But with an internet hiccup and there not being enough hours in the day to play, I’ve not had a chance to get as far as I would like! So these are my first impressions of the game so far which I hope will dispel any doubts you may have about Unity if you are still thinking about whether to buy it or not.

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We all know about the reviews that originally came out around release day. The game had some problems, some of which I have never seen, but some I have come across. But we’re not going to focus too much on those things of the past. I’m pretty sure no game is perfect when it goes gold now, simply because it needs to be on the shelves making money and not being caught up in post-production delaying the release day even more. The issues I had at the start were more a case of sloppy and lazy finishing in cut scenes where the audio levels were all over the place. I’m no genius but I’m pretty sure I could have got the audio mixing to a higher standard. It has only happened a couple of times so far, but it is simple stuff that shouldn’t be hard to get right. I also experienced the horrific frame rate drop during a mission in a cathedral. I thought my PS4 was about to break because of it, but it soon stopped and I’ve never come across it again since. Other than that, there have only been the usual AI walking through walls and on screen prompts saying my allies are under attack when no one is around. These I can forgive a little, but overall, some careless mistakes made by Ubisoft which should have been ironed out before release.

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But let’s look at the good stuff, because actually it’s a really good game. I’m only about 20% in at the moment because I’ve been running around climbing tall buildings to synchronize all of the viewpoints and taking part in the side missions to make some money and level up my assassin. As with the previous few games, there is a lot going on and the income side of things is similar to the Ezio trilogy where renovated areas generate much needed pennies. The missions help bring in dribs and drabs which might help you buy some new weapons and the consumables you tend to use up like your Phantom Blade projectiles and smoke bombs. A new feature to the missions you would expect are murder mysteries which I have found to be quite fun as you find clues and question the suspects to find the killer. If you chose poorly, your reward is reduced but if you pick wisely, the prize can be a pretty useful weapon. The only missions I haven’t really had the chance to try out are the Nomad and riddle puzzles. I do have the companion app which supports the Nomad missions, but my attempts to sync to the game haven’t worked thus far. Still, the app allows you to level up a brotherhood and do some puzzles which link in to the game. A little bit of toilet time/bed time entertainment while away from the console.

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I also have not yet had the chance to try any multiplayer missions which I have been looking forward to the most. This was initially due to no one on my friends list having Unity, so anyone who has the game and wants to play, give me a shout and we’ll take on some French radicals together! So let’s move on from the side missions. I’m not going to get into the story because I haven’t finished the game and if you’re going to play then you can enjoy it yourself. All I will say is the story sections tend to have a couple of parts to them prior to taking out your target. A few times I have found that my performance a little sloppy. This might just be down to there being more than one path to take in any situation in the game which I haven’t quite gotten used to yet. I do like the step away from the usual linear movement through the gameplay as it makes it a little more open world which is what seems to be the popular way of doing things at the moment. It does work well, if you remember to take advantage of it, which I fail to do on occasion.

Another new feature to the gameplay for this game is the Rift missions. These are portals into future France. The first one you encounter is great. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to trying out some more. It’s an interesting addition to the story line but brings in the ‘outside interference’ which would be similar to your trips outside the Animus in previous games. It’s a nice touch. I also think this is a way to keep the fans happy as past feedback about the Animus/present day side of the gameplay and story was a little mixed. I didn’t mind the Desmond aspect or the hacking side of things in previous games, although I didn’t go ahead and do everything you could in Black Flag as my reality checks were few and far between unless the game wanted me to.

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But hang fire, let’s go back and talk about Paris. Wow. The graphics are stunning. Ubisoft know what they are doing when it comes down to making a beautiful setting and putting in that attention to details. The atmosphere is constant with every street bustling with people as the city teeters on the edge of the revolution. The Rifts carry this feeling into the future France and really capture the essence of the time period you are taken to. In revolutionary Paris, I find myself spending a lot of time on the rooftops soaking in the views and watching the crowds for the events which help Arno rank up so I can take on the next batch of missions. The parkour has been stylised, however there is still the issue of running down a street and then suddenly climbing up a wall for no reason. It has a tendency to be blocky and has been a nagging problem throughout the series which hasn’t really improved. Also, in previous games, falling from a great height ended in death. It still does, but sometimes you’ll fall and nothing will happen. No health loss, no controller vibration and so you live to run around like a lunatic for another day. Still, it is just about forgivable as we should be used to this by now. But getting back to the point, graphics wise, Unity is breath-taking and takes the next step from Black Flag.

Not to compare too much, but let’s talk about Black Flag for a minute. One thing I thought that Ubisoft got just right was the combat aspect. This is something which I feel has taken a little bit of a back step in Unity. It improves once you have a sword and your assassins clothing, but in the beginning, it doesn’t have the fluidity that was achieved in Black Flag. Gameplay wise, I suppose this is my only real complaint as it becomes a little blocky. The HUD for the incoming attacks for you to parry is pretty handy in Unity so you can avoid those pesky blows which end in almost certain death. Combat is something that improves as you rank up though. This is done by buying new clothes which improve your stats which you can customise by changing colour. Like me, you could have a Napoleonic pimp Arno. It was fun for a while but this is also the way you level up so you can progress through the story and the side missions, so I didn’t get a chance to grow too attached. There are some good weapons to save up for and don’t forget about the pistols. Also, you need to manage your sills in this game. You don’t automatically gain the double assassination ability, you have to buy it with the skill points you earn as rewards as go through the story. Some are quite pricey so don’t give in to the prompt on screen to tempt you to spend it before you’re ready.

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At this point, I have to remind myself, I’ve barely scratched the surface with this game. There’s still a lot for me to try out. Including the Helix points which you can use instead of your money and skill points to hack the purchases you make. Unfortunately, this is linked to your online UPlay accounts as you can purchase this for real money for use in game. This has not been possible for me to try out during our internet blackout so I be giving this a go shortly. I’m also looking forward to finishing the story and finding out what will happen with Arno. There’s a lot still to come and I’m looking forward to it!

I really like this game so far. Yes there have been some hiccups along the way which Ubisoft have recognised and have now promised a free add on for fans (much to my disappointment as I have spent out more pennies on the season pass). I got the Guillotine Edition which is pretty awesome, and pictured below is the limited Initiate Edition which is just epic and contains the chalice, scroll and walkthrough guide. As much as I love the franchise and this game, I’m not afraid to express my disappointment about the issues that have been raised in this review and any previously. Ubisoft did release it too soon in my opinion. It should have had another couple of months to iron out the creases and rectify the silly mistakes. That being said, it is still a good game. I still need to finish Unity, start Rogue and then eventually the new Assassins Creed will be released which has been announced as Victory and is set in Victorian London. I’m excited about all of these games and for the future of the franchise. I just hope that Ubisoft learn to take their time with the next few games to make sure they don’t run into problems next time. If you’ll excuse me, I have some parkour assassinations to perform!

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