Bloody times of revolution
"Assassin’s Creed Unity" by Ubisoft for PS4, Xbox One and PC
Ubisoft has developed Assassin’s Creed Unity exclusively for the new generation of consoles from Sony and Microsoft, as well as for the PC. PS3 and Xbox 360 get their own game with Assassin’s Creed Rogue. In essence "Unity" still an action-adventure with sneak elements, but the developers change a few things. But if this is the revolution that does justice to the historical setting?
Arno Dorian grows comfortable in the France of the 18th century. The first century on. As a boy, he visits Versailles with his father at a time when the monarchy still bleeds. While he is playing there with the girl Elise, his father is the victim of an assassination attempt. Elise’s father takes care of the orphan Arno and adopts him. In the next scene, as a teenager, he witnesses and is the prime suspect in the murder of his foster father and ends up in the infamous Bastille. Shortly afterwards, the historical turbulences begin in France, which led to the storming of the Bastille in the summer of 1789 and thus to the French Revolution.
Ubisoft https://www.ubisoft.com/en-DE/ sets with the open-world action-adventure "Assassin’s Creed Unity" on preserved: The setting with upheaval, unrest and plenty of murder and manslaughter fits to the series. In addition, there are the entanglements between Assassins and Templars. Also, the frame story in modern times again turns the real video gamer into a virtual video gamer, visiting historical events in a virtual reality engine.
The intro gently introduces the gamer to the action and controls. First, as young Arno, he may steal apples together with Elise and hide from the guards. The first battles are in store for the young adult Arno in the Bastille. His teacher is also his later assassin mentor. He also introduces him to advanced skills such as the eagle eye, which the player uses to identify enemies and hiding places.
Thus, the protagonist realizes that he is caught not only in the entanglements of the French Revolution, but also in the power struggles between the crude orders. He quickly becomes a skilled assassin who is a thorn in the side of the Templars. With his independent actions, which are aimed at revenge and often astonish even the controlling player, he does not only make friends with his comrades-in-arms.
Notre Dame: a dream for free climbers like the Assassin
The main story takes the player through the Paris of the late eighteenth century. In the process, he meets various historical characters of Louis XVI. From Robespierre to Napoleon Bonaparte.
The left-wing French Parti de Gauche complains, as reported by Le Monde Online, about the way in which history is presented in the game "Assassin’s Creed Unity" and warns against reactionary propaganda. Political reality is thus catching up with the fiction of the game: There, the virtual player is warned about the Templar propaganda within the virtual reality.
In the central missions of the story, Arno usually has to take out a well-guarded enemy or infiltrate fortresses as undetected as possible. In addition, there are again numerous sideshows with their own quests. The developers have added more variety to the game than in the previous installments and, in addition to the usual assassin missions, have included new scenarios. So Arno may try himself as a detective and solve mysterious murder trap. To do this, he interviews relatives and suspects and uses his eagle eye to discover hidden clues.
The Nostradamus riddles are a scavenger hunt: the player has to find descriptions like "In a peaceful garden full of stones waits a fluxed watcher" and look for the next clue in the right place.
As in previous titles, there is also a home base – this time in the form of a cafe-house. There Arno collects regular income, which increases through the expansion of the cafe and the completion of appropriate side missions. Across Paris there are other establishments that Arno first renovates to get additional missions there and then increased income.
The player can again send the Brotherhood of Assassins on missions, but not as part of the console game, but with the companion app. Ubisoft offers this free of charge – with a premium option with a few bonuses – for Android, iOS and Windows Phone. With mini-games and brotherhood missions, the player unlocks special chests within the console game. The app doubles as an interactive map.
The companion app shows a map with targets and opponents
At first, parallel play is entertaining, but at the same time it is part of a problem of "Assassin’s Creed Unity"The developers got bogged down. The collection of the chests, which had just been "Assassin’s Creed II" and the two successors was a pleasant sideline while exploring, becomes almost burdensome in the youngest game. Besides the normal boxes, there are locked ones, whose locks Arno can often open only late in the game. Then there are chests, for which the player needs the companion app, and others for which he needs to create an Assassin’s Creed Initiatives account in addition to his XBox Live/PSN and UPlay account.
The integration of micro-transactions, which are otherwise typical for free-to-play games, is also unpleasant: The player can buy a virtual truth with real money and use it to purchase boost items or unlock weapons earlier than with normal in-game earnings.
Less would clearly have been more. The central story is not particularly original in terms of numbers, but it offers varied and playfully sophisticated scenarios. Also, the optional missions are entertaining and varied. Among other things, they drove the gamer to other eras of the French capital. For example, he can climb the Statue of Liberty, which is waiting to be transported to New York. Unfortunately, the sheer mass of trappings muddies the event. For example, on the way to the next mission Arno should constantly hunt down some robbers or protect innocent people from potential murderers.
Time jump with Eiffel Tower and zeppelins
Ubisoft has made a few changes to the controls, most of which are only noticeable at second glance. Almost nothing changes in pure climbing. The way to the top feels familiar fluffy. There are still occasional bad decisions by the automatics, with Arno climbing in the wrong places or hopping around a beam forever before pulling himself up. Most of the time, however, the mechanics work just fine. A new course system also helps with the descent and prevents the painful or fatal falls of the protagonist that occurred repeatedly in earlier games.
The battles have become more demanding. Among other things, the developers have eliminated the counter-kill, with which the assassin directly defeats an opponent with perfect defensive timing. Instead, a counterattack merely stumbles the opponent. Away from the fighting, the opponents are unfortunately behaving inconsistently as usual and are too easily traded and shunted off.
The combat system has been refined by the developers
Unpleasantly, numerous bugs came up: The tested PS4 version had no crashes, but jerked again and again in places that were not even particularly populated, and showed graphic errors such as enemies disappearing into walls or the ground. Ubisoft has since apologized for the bugs and is offering some compensation in the form of free downloadable content and game respectively.
Visually shines "Assassin’s Creed Unity" especially in the distant view. Paris from a bird’s eye view is impressive. Even exploring Versailles becomes a virtual palace tour. However, the close-ups and animations of the faces still leave a lot of room for improvement. The populated alleys provide a good atmosphere at first, but in the long run the player recognizes too many recurring character models and scenes.
Raid trains are a co-op variant
"Unity" is as the name suggests strongly focused on co-op. Multiplayer is firmly integrated into the game. The gamer can only complete special missions together with friends or strangers. The idea is good, but the sneaking concept is not very suitable for the cooperative experience, so it quickly leads to a rough battle.
At the core "Assassin’s Creed Unity" a successful game. With its combat system, exploration and varied, interesting missions, it certainly comes close to series highlights like Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood. However, it is more a successful evolution than a revolution within the series. Graphically, it’s mostly a feast for the eyes – certainly not least thanks to the decision to focus exclusively on PC and the latest console generation. Unfortunately, the bugs keep stumbling and even if they should be fixed soon, there are numerous things like the overloading, the poor enemy intelligence and the micro-transactions, which spoil the gameplay in the long run.