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Assassin's Creed Unity Review

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Story:

The little background I gave about the beginning of Arno's story in the game is actually not the beginning of the game. The game starts with you launching the Helix program, developed by Abstergo, the modern-day Templars. The purpose of the program is to give gamers the ability to play through the collected genetic memories of various people, with the hope of finding Sages throughout history. I'll come back to Sages later. For now, just understand that you start off as a Templar when they are under attack, and are shown in a somewhat sympathetic light, which makes sense as the Templars are the ones giving you access to it. Once this segment ends, you are contacted by two modern-day Assassins who want to enlist you to search Arno's life, to find the Sage he encountered before the Templars do. The Assassins go by Bishop and Deacon, with Deacon having the voice and personality of Shaun, from the previous titles.

At this point, the Assassins give you access to Arno's memories, starting as a child, so that you can experience the truth about what you have seen, and naturally join them. There are two glaring issues here. One is that, while the Templar memory takes about, oh, fifteen minutes would be my estimate (I did not time it precisely), it takes another hour or so, in Arno's life, to encounter the Assassins of his time. I am not sure how much time I would invest into such a venture presented to me by a complete stranger who hacked into my computer, but I do know I would want them to get the point faster than that.

The second issue here is, that the Assassins are not really introduced well as a force, you should be more sympathetic than the Templars. Really, the best you get is the image of Arno's father lying murdered on the floor, only to learn later that he was an Assassin. Of course, you also witness the murder of François de la Serre, who took you away from your father's body, adopted you, and raised you as a son, who it is later revealed was the Templar Grandmaster. I mean, in the grand scheme of Arno's life, up to the point that he learns about the Templars and Assassins, there is no reason to prefer one to the other, so why would the Initiate playing through these memories? In fact, based on the remainder of the game, Arno feels a deeper attachment to de le Serre than to his own father as he seeks out the conspiracy that killed the Grandmaster, but no consideration is made for uncovering who slayed his actual father. Besides, when you consider that his father, an Assassin, is killed and then de la Serre, a Templar, appears at the body to take Arno away, would you not think that it was in fact de la Serre who murdered your father?

 

 

 

 

To top it off, Arno's adoptive sister, Élise, is obviously his love interest and a Templar. Now, perhaps it is just me, but if I were to learn about the Assassin and Templar war for the first time, after my adoptive father was murdered before me, and that the love of my life is also a Templar, I would probably join them. Instead, it seems like everyone takes it for granted that you are an Assassin, as it is passed down by blood, despite having been raised in a Templar's household. Sure, you were apparently shielded from this information, but still, Arno knew, trusted, and cared about Templars, so why would he turn to and join the Assassins as he did?

For the remainder of the game, Arno has two key motivations, but does develop a third that I do not think was treated well. One was to uncover de la Serre's murderer, and kill everyone involved, while the other motivation was to ultimately get Élise in the end. The third motivation he develops is that of serving the Assassins, which is presented as him just using the Order's training and teachings as a means of achieving revenge. Considering what more he does, including what he does to actually protect the Order, has this presentation makes little sense. How the Master Assassins threat him also makes little sense throughout, chastising him for going after a Templar conspiracy. Granted, the two orders actually have a truce in place because of the unrest in France, but it still seems very hypocritical as the way they chastise Arno for seeking vengeance. It seems like they want revenge on him, for what they perceive as violations of the Creed. I would have really liked to see Arno stand up to them then, as at this point, it truly seemed like Arno was past the vengeance and was seeking more to bring about a peace, by ending the conspiracy he had uncovered.

 

 

Along with all of this, there are some betrayals you experience, and each one I saw coming and felt quite contrived. I mean, you could tell what was coming just by listening to the people, but then one of these betrayals did not even lead to sensible reactions from others that were also betrayed. The introduction to Napoleon is also rather shallow as you meet him and work with him to find something, despite not knowing his name or purpose yet. It does show him getting an Apple of Eden, which had been revealed in other games, but would be completely meaningless to players who have not played the other titles. Previous experience with the franchise did seem to be taken for granted at times, which is disappointing.

Speaking of the previous titles, I do not recall there ever being a memory-reading aspect to the Eagle Vision mechanic before. When Arno assassinates his targets, he is able to view their memories, which is very helpful for explaining the conspiracy, but does not make much sense. It is never really set up in the game, beyond Arno just acknowledging that he did or did not see something in a target's memories. It would really have been nice if more time had been spent explaining this as it could have been made into a very interesting tool.

 

 

Finally, I want to touch on the Sage in the game. Sages were explained before as humans who are born very rarely and have, in effect, the essence of the First Civilization members within them. In Unity however, the Sage is just some guy with more First Civilization DNA than others, which had been the explanation for why some people have Eagle Vision. This enabled him to see symbols and information from the First Civilization, which was very highly advanced at the time of its demise. This naturally makes any Sage a potentially grave threat, but I really did not like how it is treated as little more than that. Previously, the Sage had his own goal that he fought for, using the Templars and Assassins as needed. In Unity, he is a Templar and really just seems to be a Templar with different colored eyes and Eagle Vision. The additional knowledge is not really even touched on, besides a last-minute explanation for his ambitions. Really, the whole Sage plot could have been removed without damaging the story, just by leaving the guy as a Templar. Because you are an Assassin it is enough reason to want to kill each other.

In summary, the story of Unity is rather weak, especially the ending, which has Arno making a speech about how the Creed is not a license to do what you wish, but a guard against that, and how he finally learned this after the events of the game. With the actually statement of the Creed being so much earlier in the game, and lack of emphasis on it throughout, this seemed out of place during final cutscene. It definitely did not wrap up things up well, in my opinion.

 




  1. Assassin's Creed Unity Review - Introduction
  2. Assassin's Creed Unity Review - Graphics
  3. Assassin's Creed Unity Review - Story
  4. Assassin's Creed Unity Review - Gameplay
  5. Assassin's Creed Unity Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  6. Assassin's Creed Unity Review - Conclusion
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