Monday, December 15, 2014

Get Assassin's Creed Unity - PC

Get Assassin's Creed Unity - PC




EDIT 12/13/12: Tried playing the game again for the first time since I wrote this review due to a French friend who insisted the patches had fixed the game up. My first game loaded up and I was immediately assaulted by flickering textures on half of the walls I looked at. Our mission was to gain some intelligence from a castle. I quickly scaled a wall, was detected 4 times with no enemy in sight, and hid inside the castle. I was then detected again while hiding behind a box with no enemy in sight. Apparently the patches have made the game WORSE. Nice job, Ubisoft. You've officially killed off one of your true fans. Uninstalled and given upon -- Do not buy this game for any price!!


I'm a huge fan of the Assassin's Creed series. As a history nerd and a huge stealth genre fanboy, these games are always right up my alley.

Now I'll tell you why Assassin's Creed Unity is, flat out, one of the worst games I've played in years, and why it's absolutely unrecommendable to everybody who owns a gaming PC.

I want to start off by saying that I was absolutely hyped for this game. More hyped than any Assassin's Creed game since Assassin's Creed 2. I had watched a few gameplay videos that sold me due to the fact that the devs seemed to be going for the classic Assassin's Creed experience: An emphasis on stealthy gameplay, an intriguing historical period, and a stripped down approach to weapons and gadgets. It hearkened back to Assassin's Creed II, which is an amazing game and probably the best in the series, closely followed by Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and Black Flag.

The first drawback is the one everybody already knows about: The game is nearly totally broken at this point. Bugs are everywhere, the game hard crashes quite often, and it runs like a dog even on the most beastly of rigs. For me in particular, the most damning graphical drawback was some kind of weird frame stutter that I would experience literally every 4 seconds without fail, even in menus. I'm not sure what's causing this, but the game is literally unplayable with it. I did manage to bludgeon through about 5 hours of the game before finally giving up and uninstalling it for good. It's the most broken game I've played since Obsidian was forced to release Knights of the Old Republic II in it's half-finished state way back in 2004. And that's saying something, because that game was a broken mess.

There's been enough said about the games broken, poorly optimized state. I'd like to talk about why it would be a bad game even if it were to run beautifully. I'm going to talk about the past couple of AC games here, so bear with me.

I hated Assassin's Creed 3. Absolutely despised it. I thought it was terribly designed. It had muddy control and poor line-of-sight mechanics that often resulted in instant game over detections, it had awfully designed stealth sequences that forced you to follow people at ridiculously close lengths, and it had bad checkpoints that compounded both of those issues. A number of the missions (the midnight ride, the Charles Lee chase sequence) were just horribly designed to the point where they were frustrating. To top it off, the writing was utter trash, all of the characters were cardboard cutouts, and nothing was even worth following.

Then came Black Flag, which was a complete redemption for the series. The game was so much fun, it was beautiful to look at, and, most importantly for me, IT FIXED THE SERIES STEALTH AND GAMEPLAY DESIGN PROBLEMS! Control was smooth. Stealth sequences were designed well. Free running and climbing was nearly bug-free, quick, and intuitive. Trying to achieve 100% stealth in the plantation sequences were probably my favorite missions in the game. Playing Black Flag felt like the Assassin's Creed series had truly taken a step forward, like it was ready to get back to being the stellar franchise that Assassin's Creed II had promised it would be.

Enter Assassin's Creed Unity.

The reason I contrasted AC3 and Black Flag is because playing through Unity gave me the distinct feeling that I was playing a game designed by the AC3 team. It has the same exact pitfalls that I just described in AC3. Controls are muddy and you never truly feel totally in control of Arno. He lumbers to and fro in the vague direction you send him. A cover mechanic has been introduced that's way too sticky, way too close to guesswork, and generally hampers stealth so poorly that I completely stopped using it except in sequences when the game forces you to. And, to top it off, they've redesigned free running and climbing with a system that seems like it should work beautifully, but fails miserably in every aspect of its execution. The days of your jumping off into odd directions, taking the wrong path up a building, and even inexplicably stopping in place and having to recenter the stick, then hit up again to continue moving HAVE ALL RETURNED FROM ASSASSIN'S CREED II. Seriously, bugs from a game that was made back in 2009 and were just solved last year have miraculously reappeared. How do you ♥♥♥♥ up that badly?

Add in that the music, something that was unbelievably atmospheric and really made the experience of Florence in Assassin's Creed II, and lent you sea shanties that stuck in your head for hours in Black Flag (and was utterly forgettable at best and terrible at worst in AC3) is absolutely unnoticeable. In fact, I didn't think about it once until, midway through this review, I remembered how much I loved Jesper Kyd's work in AC2. That's how forgettable it is.

There are also several instances of immersion-breaking content, including chests that are only open via the Unity Companion App, and microtransactions that are so hamfistedly jammed in they pull you right out of the experience. It's a basic example of an immersion murdering mechanic, and it boggles my mind that developers have not learned why you don't do these things in games. Hell, even the publisher and the money people should know why immersion is important for a single player gaming experience. There's no excuse for garbage like this.

You can also consider Ubi's utter failure to maintain some semblance of business ethics by setting their review embargo to 12:00 PM of release day, rather than the day of or the day before as is common practice. Why would they do this, you say? The only obvious reason that comes to mind is that they knew their game was an unfinished, broken piece of garbage, and they decided that their best course of action was to lie to their customers for as long as possible in order to prevent them from canceling their preorders. Despicable.

It really disappoints me to tear this game apart so viciously because I've been such a huge fan of the series. I'd like to believe that this was rushed out the door by Ubi, and that the team would eventually have produced a good game if they were given adequate time to have worked on the things that fail here. But at the end of the day, blame lies with the developer as well as the publisher.

"A delayed game is eventually good, a rushed one is forever bad"

- Shigeru Miyamoto

In conclusion, there is nothing redeeming whatsoever in this game. Even if the game were totally fixed, even if the graphical issues and the bugs were completely ironed out and the game ran beautifully, this still isn't worth a purchase because it's just a bad game. The dev team here has an eternity of failure to look forward to, as people will forever think of this game as an exemplary pillar of Ubisoft's descent into the basement of video game development and business ethics. Hell, at least Watch Dogs had some interesting mechanics and some competent stealth sequences. This game brings absolutely nothing to the table. Just replay Black Flag instead. Or burn $60 in your backyard while punching yourself in the face, because that's a more valuable, entertaining experience than playing this game will ever be.

I look forward to washing the coppery, fecal taste of Assassin's Creed Unity out of my mouth with Dragon Age Inquisition next week.