Unity = More co-op player crap.
Another year, another Assassin’s Creed game. Well, two games last year, but I’m no fool. I’m not buying Rogue for the PS3 because I just KNOW there will be some HD remaster/remake for the new-gen consoles in the next year or so. No thanks, Ubisoft, I’ll wait it out. You aren’t catching me on that one.
This game’s release is yet another Triple A launch disaster. Lucky me, I didn’t play the game until after the patch that fixed most of the issues. Part of me is a little sad I missed out on the hilarious face glitches. I mean, look at this!
Comedic gold, this is! …And yet, even I can admit it’d get real old after the first five minutes.
Which isn’t to say I didn’t experience any glitches. This is an Assassin’s Creed game, after all. Check out this video I posted on Youtube that made me chuckle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1eUZrgD3W4
While I missed out on all the release day drama, I can say this entry in the series is polarizing for me as well, just for different reasons.
My main issue is the constant need on the part of the developer to inject stupid, desperate micro-transaction cash grabs into the game (especially a game like AC where they feel completely out of place). Ubisoft thinks I need to spend real money to hack an upgrade on a piece of gear when I could easily get the currency the legit way? Or, what’s worse for me, is realizing that there are gamers out there who actually DO cough up the dough! After spending full price for the game. When the real money “cheat” is nowhere close to necessary to beat the game! I mean, I zoomed through the game in 20 hours and didn’t feel like I needed those real money “hacks” to feel like I had a chance beating it.
My other annoyance is how they added icons on my map that could only be cleared by using the outside companion app. No. Just no. After what Bungie thought they could do with Grimoire Cards to make the players use their stupid app or website to find out key aspects of the game, I decided to take a personal stand against the practice. Granted, in AC: Unity it’s nothing with that much impact on the overall story, but I’m still against the whole idea. Instead, they should have put an ad on the opening menu or load screens to inform me about the app. And, if I so chose to download and use the app, THEN have the icons clutter up my beautiful map of France. It irritated me to no end that I’d never clear out my map because of the extra missions and chests I wouldn’t be opening. I realized early on that I wouldn’t have a cleaned up map by the end of the game, and it was probably a large part of why I didn’t even try.
Stupid developer money-grabbing decisions aside, I actually liked this game a lot more than I thought I would. When I read reviewers’ skepticism regarding how much the formula was being changed, I was a bit concerned. But then I said to myself, “Wait. Every year I complain the games are more of the same. Therefore, shouldn’t I be embracing the chances? Maybe this game will feel like a fresh experience.” And you know what? Overall, I’m happier with the gameplay in this one than the last few installments.
I have one big like and dislike when it comes to the changes. What I liked, no, LOVED, was how they changed most of your story assassination missions. I can’t recall how much I hated the very strict rules taking place during story missions in most of the series. The annoying follow and chase sequences. The fact that you’re not given any freedom to carry out the mission your own unique way. Sound familiar? Well, I’m happy to report that the main assassination missions allow you to be a lot more creative in Unity. Once triggering the mission, you’re given an informational screen that tells you helpful tidbits about the area, such as; number of guards, hidden entrances, and alarm bells in the area. Then, the world opens back up and you get to do some investigating to decide the best way to attack the mission. Yes, you’re given nearly free reign to approach the target how you see fit. I was tickled pink when I used Eagle Vision to find a person I could tackle to reward myself with a key to get in a hidden entrance… If I so chose. If not, I could go about my business in another fashion. I thought this method was more in line with my vision of how a game as an assassin should play out.
Part of the reason the game plays out this way is because at no given point in time are you guaranteed to have a certain skill. Which ties into one of my dislikes about this game. Instead of having every skill an assassin may utilize after finishing his training, the main character Arno has to unlock skills with Sync points. The concept of unlocking skills isn’t where my beef lies. My annoyance is in how they approached unlocking skill points. Like Ubisoft’s other series Farcry, skill points are locked by story progression. Pretty lame in sandbox games, if you ask me. In every other AC game I enjoyed opening treasure chests as I made my way across the map, clearing out one section at a time. Not possible anymore, because now there are locked chests that you need to level up your lockpicking skill to open… And you barely get enough Sync points in the main story to bother. Passing by treasure chests is a painful experience for me. Between the locked and Nomad treasure chests I couldn’t open my heart was literally aching. My title is “Loot Whore” for a reason. Yet I can acquiesce that Unity beat it out of me. It was just hard to care about spending skill points to be able to open chests that only rewarded me with money that I was already earning at a stupidly high rate due to my property allowance.
To acquire Sync points, aside from completing main story missions, you need to complete online Co-op missions. Which is bogus and pisses me off. The real reason it made me mad was because they didn’t balance it out for those of us who don’t/can’t play co-op. Why couldn’t some of the Assassination side quests also reward the player with Sync points? There’s no reason for it. If you don’t plan on doing any co-op missions, you’ll maybe unlock about half of the available skills in one playthrough. A very big turn off for me.
New and typical Assassin’s Creed gripes aside, most of what Ubisoft does with this game’s aesthetics and writing is done rather well. The city and locations are absolutely gorgeous. While Arno, your Assassin du jour, is a bit dull and follows the over-worn “I wanna be an assassin because revenge!” line, the supporting cast is great. Elise is probably my favorite Assassin’s Creed female character.
Yes, her personality is as fiery as her hair.
If you check out the finer details of the image, you’ll notice she has Templar insignia on. Yes, here we have an Assassin in love with a Templar! Oh, the shame! The Star-Crossed lovers thing serves to move the plot forward and creates a pretty interesting dynamic. Unfortunately, the greater implications of creating a truce between the two ideological camps never gets fleshed out in this game. It basically starts and ends with Arno’s personal quest. I probably don’t need to tell you this either, but don’t expect the present day parallel to get anywhere. Because, again, it doesn’t. I’m getting the impression Ubisoft throws in some dialogue because they have to acknowledge that aspect of the modern-day tensions and the Animus crap. But it’s quite obvious the writers couldn’t care less.
I have to give them credit for trying something new. And, to be fair, this is probably my favorite Assassin’s Creed game since the Ezio days. While I didn’t dislike Black Flag, spending all that time sailing on the open seas wasn’t the magical new formula for me that everyone else found it to be. I thought Unity was a bolder two steps forward for the series, even if it still took one step back.