Also available on PlayStation 4 and Windows
Imagine, if you will, that you're on vacation in France exploring the countryside by car. It's a beautiful day, and everywhere you look, flowers are in bloom. Now imagine that your companion and navigator on your drive is the paperclip from Microsoft Word. Now imagine that the engine overheats every 15 kilometers, forcing you to pull over and let it cool for ten minutes, and you have a tire blow every 50 kilometers. That's basically how it feels to play Assassin's Creed Unity. It's got the potential to be absolutely fantastic, but two key flaws make sure it will never even begin to approach that potential.
Assassin's Creed Unity quickly became a bit of a meme online for the fact that its plethora of bugs and major technical issues made it nearly unplayable. Unfortunately even four years after launch, it's only reached the level of "technically playable." It took me two days to play through Unity, and in that time, the game completely crashed six times - two of which resulted in having to hard reset the Xbox - and I encountered a cornucopia of more minor bugs from floating characters to clipping through objects to characters getting caught on objects not to mention the serious frame rate issues. Yeah, it's playable, but it makes a Bethesda game on launch day look downright stable. Even after sizable patches were released in the time following its 2014 launch, it's a buggy mess. As was the case when I played Sonic Boom with its 1.2 GB patch (and that was a 1.2 GB patch on Wii U), I shudder to think what this game was like before any patching.
The performance issues are bad enough, but that's only one of Unity's two major flaws. The other is an overzealous parkour system. Free running has always been one of my favorite things about Assassin's Creed. I love sprinting through the environment, climbing up and jumping off buildings, and jogging across ropes strung between structures. Unity does that a lot better than Rogue did, but not by much. What they did well with letting you climb pretty much anything is completely killed by the fact that the system seems intent on having your character do anything except what you want him to. Want to climb in a window? How about we have you just climb up above the window instead three times in a row? Want to shift your position in cover? Let's just stand up and wave at the guards who are trying to kill you. Want to perform a double assassination? Na, just kill one guy and shake hands with the other. Some of that stuff happens on occasion in every Assassin's Creed game from simple user error, but it's consistent here. You'll find yourself climbing everything under the sun regardless of whether or not you're even trying to, and actually killing who you intend with air assassinations is a crapshoot even with the game's red outline for your "targeted" foe.
The combat system is another missed opportunity albeit far less egregious than the parkour and general performance. There seems to be a certain amount of chance involved in whether or not your character actually parries or evades when you press the button. Sometimes, it seems, he just feels like standing there and getting stabbed despite your desperate button presses. Given the the fluidity of parries and ripostes was always my favorite part of combat in Assassin's Creed, this was a major source of disappointment for me. As far as visuals go, the game looks nice. Too bad those good visuals are hampered by a sluggish frame rate and textures that take their sweet time rendering, sometimes waiting until halfway through a cut scene to stop being a blurry mess. At least the voice acting is good. The story is pretty interesting, too. Good luck not being too disappointed to really appreciate either of those, though.
Assassin's Creed Unity is...okay. It's a really good game buried beneath layers and layers of caked on technical flaws and questionable design choices. Unfortunately that's caked on THICK. It's not nearly as broken as Sonic Boom, but it's not far off. The narrative and characters are a big redeeming factor for Unity, and my score would be lower if it weren't for that. If you're a fan of the Assassin's Creed series, then yeah, give it a play. If you're either a casual Assassin's Creed player or relatively unfamiliar with the series, however, skip Unity. Its problems are great enough that I can really only recommend this one to serious fans of the series.
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.