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Assassin's Creed Unity Review

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Gameplay:

I have already talked about the stuttering in the Graphics section, so there is little point to cover that again, besides saying that it really did negatively impact gameplay. With that covered, we can get to specific gameplay.

Just based on the name, you can expect there to be a healthy stealth component to Unity, as you will have to hunt your targets and then escape after you have struck. For some parts, it works well, but not always, and for a few reasons. One of those reasons is that roofs no longer offer the vision protection they once did. Snipers on other roofs had an easy time finding and tracking me, and the roofs lack any cover, besides the possible extended wall with chimneys. Also the slants of the roofs make it easy for enemies on the ground to spot you, if they are looking for you. If you want to avoid enemies chasing you, you will have to exploit the density of the city and potentially jump into open windows.

One of the interesting features of Unity is that there are many houses that are actually open, so you can run through doors and windows for whatever reason you have. This is definitely pretty cool, even if NPC's do not really respond to your sudden presence. The feature does have the issue that it is actually kind of hard to enter a window. In one instance, which I took video of, I was in front of an open window, trying to get in, with a tip up saying to press Control. I did numerous times, without luck. What eventually did work was backing up slightly, pressing shift, and moving at the window. This behavior was fairly consistent, with free-running being more successful at entering open windows than the key indicated for doing so.

Free-running has also seen a change in this game by allowing you to select a button to free-run up or down. In theory, this sounds pretty good, as it means you can select if you vault over an object, leap off of a ledge, slide under an object, or have a controlled descent. In the game, the practicality is lost and it seems to serve more as a way to force the player to actively change buttons, instead of just watching ahead and changing lateral direction to continue. At times, it also seemed as though there is a preferred way to overcome some obstacles; free-running up or down would work better. Which the preference was, I never quite seemed to get right, as Arno would often half slam into something, before doing whatever he had to do. A unified and more contextually intelligent free-run system would be better, and has proven itself to be before, as this is what the franchise had been using and refining with each title.

 

Even with those delays from running into things, there is not much to worry about. Arno moves so much faster than everyone, that you could easily catch up after the short delay. Actually, the bigger problem was staying behind or next to people I was walking with.

The cover system also has some issues with it, as you cannot round corners with it. You can swap cover, if the objects are in line, but to just go around an object's corner was impossible for me, without leaving and re-entering cover. As it was, entering cover did not always work, much like entering windows. It is almost like there is a minimum distance I was getting inside of, which is definitely annoying. There is also no dive mechanic, to avoid being seen when swimming. Why this is the case, I do not know. Granted, there is not much water in Paris to swim in, but one mission puts you at a dock and requires you steal a letter from someone. Wanting to be stealthy, I chose to jump into the water and approach the target that way, only to be sighted and shot, because I could not hide beneath the surface.

Firearms are very common, both in the form of rifles and pistols, and can be very annoying. Some of your enemies are dead shots and have very powerful weapons that will remove good chunks of health with each hit. Considering almost every enemy type seemed to have a version with firearms to do that much damage is pretty ridiculous. Plus, it is hard to avoid the shots when in combat.

 

Another odd change is the removal of a counter mechanic. In previous games I could comfortable take on groups of enemies because I could counter attack them, killing them. That is completely gone in Unity, though you still have a parry ability. It works, but does not really help you much in large fights, or during heavy stuttering. I found it was better off running, and just running. Sometimes I tried dropping a smoke bomb for cover, but then sometimes there were enemies that would still attack me through the smoke.

Arno's training as an Assassin is hidden from the player, with only one sword fighting segment shown, with people saying you have spent months or years working on your skills to cover the rest. This is unfortunate because of how it ties into the skill acquisition system. Instead of you naturally progressing and unlocking abilities, there are unlock in groups just for completing certain memories, thanks to the two real-world Assassins assisting your out-of-Animus character. Being able to execute a double assassination or used a ranged weapon is not linked to when Arno learns to do it, but when someone disassociated from your character's actions chooses to. Even then, these abilities are only made available to you, and require you spend Sync points to unlock them. You acquire these points by completing memory sequences, and having completed the campaign, I have not acquired enough to unlock everything I would like to. This leads me to believe there are others means to getting them and I think it may be by the co-op missions. I have not tried any of these as I have little interest in the multi=player, and I do not have any friends to play with. This is definitely frustrating because I would like to have everything accessible to me, as I did in the previous games.

 

There are also Creed points and Francs to deal with, with Francs being used for purchases of gear, consumables, social clubs, and renovating your base, and Creed points being for item upgrades. The Creed points are not too difficult to earn as you are awarded them for a number of actions. Just playing the game naturally will accrue quite a wealth of them. The Francs are a little harder to gather at first, but if you put the effort into the Café Theater missions, renovating it and social clubs, you will start raking them in at thousands every twenty minutes. Helix points are also a thing that you can use to hack items and upgrades. I believe these can be purchased through micro-transactions, but did not investigate because they were more a convenience for me than useful. You are apparently awarded them just by playing, so you know, as I did see the amount increase as I played.

One quick thing worth mentioning is that you can purchase any gear from just about anywhere, using the character customize option when you open the map. Shops are only needed for purchasing consumables. Skills, gears, and upgrades are accessible everywhere, if it is in the game. For some reason, it was decided to show off gear that is actually not available in the game, but in an upcoming DLC. This is somewhat annoying because they are not labelled any differently from items locked due to mission requirements, except when you actually inspect the item.

 

By the way, upgrades on gear are not reflect in their stat graphs, which makes comparisons a little annoying as well. Also outfits appear to be purely cosmetic, with the gear you equip still being what carries the stats. At least that is true of some of the outfits, but I am not sure about the one unlocked by collectibles.

Like previous games, there are collectibles that, if you find all of, will grant you access to a special outfit. (In previous games it was actually better armor and not just cosmetic.) In this case, the collectibles have been hidden by Nostradamus with riddles. Now, on its own, that may not sound too bad. The problem is that the riddles require knowing the landmarks of Paris to understand, because there are no map indicators to even set you in the right direction. Sure, there are in-game database files on each landmark, but at least I am not going to spend the time reading them, so I did not. Also, the riddles can be multiple parts too.

 

If it seems like I am jumping around between points and that is because I made a list of things I want to cover. I am trying to keep a flow between the points, but these last few are a little hard to tie together, so bear with me.

The map is overwhelming, to say the least. You open it and every marker is shown at the same time, practically obscuring Paris beneath icons. There are filters to hide them, but every time the map opens, it shows them all at once. Plus those filters are a little funky. It would have been a very good idea to make it possible to select which icons are shown, and have that saved. Or maybe there is a way to do so, that I just did not find.

Something seen in some of the trailers were rifts, which are actually the results of the Templars searching for the player on its servers. To avoid being caught, the Assassins open portals to other servers, and these are in different time periods of Paris, such as during World War 2. It may seem odd for Arno to climb the Eiffel Tower and shoot down airplanes, but it actually works fairly well. After completing a rift, you are able to return to it, and run a kind of time trial that can reward you with money. I do not think it is particular efficient, but they are easily repeatable.

Another feature shown off in a trailer was how there are alternate objectives that can be completed during an assassination mission, to open up new paths to your target or for your escape. Truthfully though, these are really just side objectives. They are always shown to you at the beginning of a mission, so it is not like exploring the area will uncover a secret entrance. They are a nice addition, but not especially deep. It is not like you are free to approach an assassination as you wish.

 

The final assassination mission you are offered has no side objectives, but does have a rather poor boss fight at the end. The enemy has a very strong ranged attack, but it can only attack in one direction. You have an ally with you, so I was really expecting some help, like a distraction so I could charge in at stab the enemy in the back. Nope. I had to just wait for the guy to not be looking in my direction and charge at him, often losing some health in the process. The ally did nothing at all to help.

Speaking of health, there is no health regeneration. If you want more, you have to use some medicine. This is kind of annoying, because that means that even a little damage requires medicine and when you are out of medicine, you are, more or less, out of luck.

I spent about 15 hours and 33 minutes in Assassin's Creed Unity, achieving only 32% completion. That may seem low, but that is partly because of how each mission has its own minor objectives, like not being spotted or performing so many cover assassinations. Regardless, I do not expect to spend much more time in the game than I already have. The stuttering hurts the experience significantly, but even then, the gameplay is just not as refined and deep as it should be for such an old franchise. It is not bad; it just is not that good.




  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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