sun 27/09/2020

Assassin's Creed: Unity | reviews, news & interviews

Assassin's Creed: Unity

Assassin's Creed: Unity

The French Revolution makes for a stunning backdrop to free-roaming stealth action.

'Assassin's Creed: Unity': Looks so good you can almost smell the revolting peasants…

What a setting! The history-hopping stealth action series drops into Revolutionary Paris in Unity. Arguably the first game of the "next generation" uses more processing power to render a gigantic, living city teeming with revolting peasants, towered over by Gothic cathedrals and stuffed full of passageways and distractions. Assassin's Creed: Unity looks so real you can almost smell Robespierre's breath.

What a setting! The history-hopping stealth action series drops into Revolutionary Paris in Unity. Arguably the first game of the "next generation" uses more processing power to render a gigantic, living city teeming with revolting peasants, towered over by Gothic cathedrals and stuffed full of passageways and distractions. Assassin's Creed: Unity looks so real you can almost smell Robespierre's breath. Such a shame, then, that the game fails to engage meaningfully with setting or period.

The Assassin's Creed series follows an increasingly ludicrous and labyrinthine plot about memories of our ancestors being buried in our DNA, and rival Templar and Assassin secret societies at war through history. It matters little – each game dumps you into a pivotal moment in history and sees you completing free-roaming and stealthy assassin missions. Follow people, stake out their guards, and then sneak up and it's stabby-stabby time. Then run, climb and jump away before you're caught.

Assassin's Creed Unity - stealth series hits next generation consoles PS4 and Xbox OneThe core concepts of the game are huge, free-roaming environments, with multiple ways to approach your targets, and Parkour-style running and clambering movement. Unity is little different in this. Coming after the enjoyable Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, which featured piratical sea battles, Unity strips back the action to solely on land – and loses out as a result.

Unity's setting in Revolutionary Paris turns out to be both its biggest strength and weakness. It looks stunning and the streets, teeming with life, are spectacular. But they're also cramped and crowded – and the game simply doesn't cope well with that. Whereas Black Flag saw plenty of open seas and grand, spaced-out plantations and islands, here it's all interiors, narrow streets and crowds – and in those tight spaces, Unity's control system fails.

Assassin's Creed Unity - stealth series hits next generation consoles PS4 and Xbox OneToo often you'll try and jump through a window and run up a wall instead, or you'll run through a crowd only to leap onto a market stall you hadn't spotted, picking you out to your enemies. Too often your fluid and fast assassin will get tangled up by the game.

As well as control woes, there is a crass character upgrade system involving four different types of in-game currency, to encourage you to grind out extra skills and equipment, or cheat and pay real money for virtual items.

There are also occasional technical glitches – hordes of people popping up from nowhere, frame rate stutters. But these are a lesser issue to the control problems and the lack of engagement with the gift of a setting.

Instead of engaging directly with the Revolution, Unity seems happy to plonk you in as a side-player – visiting iconic locations such as the Bastille and Notre Dame, but only using them as a convenient backdrop to continue a baffling and boring story that's largely unrelated to the Revolution taking place.

A missed opportunity in setting and too often cumbersome controls, but at least Paris during the fall looks amazing.

So real you can almost smell Robespierre's breath...

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters