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Review

Assassin's Creed Unity Review

  • First Released Nov 11, 2014
    released
  • Reviewed Nov 11, 2014
  • PS4
  • XONE

Relative revolution.

Assassin's Creed Unity is at once comfortingly familiar, yet drastically different. For all its recognizable tropes, and for all its throwbacks to Assassin's Creeds of old, Unity is surprisingly progressive. The sprawling narratives and endless procession of historical figures that have come to define the series have given way to a sharply focused, personal tale that eschews moments of joviality for something altogether much darker in tone.

But where else could the series have gone? Its complex Abstergo storyline has long since jumped the shark, leaving more recent entries in the series to wade through the mess and attempt to find some coherency. Unity ties itself into the wider Assassin's Creed universe, but does so only briefly and rather apathetically compared to its predecessors. Its opening--a trailer for Helix, a commercialised version of the Animus intended for entertainment purposes--might suggest otherwise, but if you were hoping for a deeper dive into the muddled mysteries of Abstergo, you won't find it here.

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This isn't so much of a problem if, like me, you found the Abstergo stuff to be a distraction anyway; it's nice to be able to focus on the historical narrative without too many jarring interruptions from the "real world." This does mean that the historical narrative had better be a great one, but Unity's doesn't quite meet the mark. Arno is certainly one of the most charismatic and well-acted Assassin's Creed leads I've seen--cocksure, mischievous, and just enough of a jerk to still be lovable--but the story never exploits his charms to the fullest.

It certainly tries, though. Unity shies away from having a vast collection of ancillary characters, focusing instead upon its lead Arno and his love interest Elise. With fewer of those secondary characters around, many of which tended to play a more lighthearted role, the story is much darker in tone than anything else in the series. It evolves from love story, to revenge tale, to murder mystery, and then circles right back to love story again, all at a heartier pace than one might expect from an Assassin's Creed game.

So it's hard to get bored, or at least hard to be indifferent to Unity's story. But, given the singular focus, that all-important chemistry between its two leads just isn't strong enough to tie the whole thing together; I cared enough to want to see things through to end, but not enough to be truly moved by any of its events. It doesn't help that the story is filled with all manner of clichéd conversations of deceit, and betrayal, and gibberish about honour. This might be par for the course in Assassin's Creed, but given the effort to reign in the sprawl, it'd have been nice to see the same effort extended to adding more variety to the dialogue--and I don't think we need to see yet another Assassin's Creed start with the death of a family member.

Similarly disappointing is how little the story ties into its setting, particularly since Unity's portrayal of a Paris scarred by the civil unrest of the French revolution is one of its greatest triumphs. The attention to detail that's gone into the city is nothing short of astonishing. As the story progresses, the city crumbles before your eyes, the streets becoming awash with citizens burning effigies and waving flags in protest, while loyalists and revolutionaries battle over the future of their homeland.

The benefit of Unity's exclusivity to the latest generation of consoles isn't immediately obvious, particularly if you're focused on face-value aesthetics, which look only slightly more impressive here than they did in Black Flag. It's only when you explore Paris' many districts do you realise that the sheer scale of the city is incredible, not only in terms of its explorable limits, but in the huge number of citizens wandering its streets. A mission where you're tasked with performing an assassination amongst a crowd of thousands shows how Unity is as close as the series has ever come to creating a tangible, convincing city.

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But Unity's story and its single-player missions do little more than skim over some of the finer points of the French revolution and the struggling Parisians, the setting serving as an extravagant backdrop to Arno and Elise's private shenanigans. Part of the joy of Assassin's Creed has always been in how it explores and toys with history, and--despite the benefits of an increased pace--that's sadly been lost here. Where Unity's more progressive elements succeed (and indeed, where most Assassin's Creed games rarely falter), is in its combat and its missions. There Unity's stripped-back approach has resulted in a wonderfully freeform and satisfying stealth experience.

Where you'd previously have to complete a mission in a certain way--poisoning a drink, or sneaking in through a certain entrance--Unity leaves those decisions up to you. You're still given hints about what to do, with Arno scanning the area for potential infiltration points and eavesdropping on exploitable civilians--but you can choose to completely ignore them and forge your own path. In one mission I had the option of setting some prisoners free from a jail cell as a distraction to get me into the building. I chose to ignore that completely, and attempt to sneak in via the roof, where snipers mercilessly gunned me down.

No, not every plan is going be a rousing success, but the fact that you're given the freedom to choose is far better than the enforced hand-holding of old. I also quite like the trial and error approach, planning out the perfect assassination route after multiple attempts. Indeed, after a few tries, I had that roof approach licked, jumping into the building through an open window and blending into a crowd of bourgeois loyalists before sneaking up on my target and making the kill. With multiple options of attack available, the replayability factor here is huge, giving you more of an incentive to go back and nail those bonus conditions for completing a mission.

These excellent sandbox-style assassinations make up the bulk of Unity's missions, but there are sadly still times when you have to stealthily tail a target, only to have to start over if you put a single foot wrong and get spotted: it's time to put these pointlessly frustrating missions to bed. Thankfully, Unity's new co-op missions eschew these dated ideas, and are largely based on large-scale sandbox assassinations. Most fun are the heist missions, where your team is rewarded for stealth: the more people you alert along the way, the less cash you get at the end. It means that every member of the team has to work together efficiently and precisely, without any forced fail states outside of everyone on the team dying.

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The ability to highlight potential kills for your teammates, as well as unlock skills like shared eagle vision, do a great job of reinforcing this idea of teamwork. The most successful and entertaining heists come from putting together a varied team, with some members focusing on close-range attacks, and others taking point with long-range weapons and sniping any stray enemies. The co-op is a nice addition then, if not the go-to multiplayer mode you might have hoped for. Integrating the co-op into the single-player campaign (with new missions opening up as you progress) is a neat idea, and it makes for more cohesive ties into the storyline. But it also means that the co-op is a mere sideline to the action, rather than something you'd want to plough a lot of time and effort into. Sadly, the excellent competitive multiplayer from previous games doesn't make a return.

Outside of the main missions, well, it's fetch quest central for the most part, along with a few assassinations. The excellent stealth mechanics make these missions more exciting than they have any right to be, though, particularly thanks to a few new tweaks that solve some age-old problems. Breaking line of sight with an enemy now creates a visible silhouette of your last known position, which makes it easier to know exactly where you've been spotted, and which areas to avoid. It also works rather well as a lure. Enemies often investigate your last known position, and if that happens to be right by a ledge or a behind a doorway, it makes for an easy assassination. The parkour system has been tweaked, allowing for greater freedom of movement. It means you aren't locked into a set course during a climb, so you can easily move diagonally across a surface, or descend with fewer awkward animations. Arno's new phantom blade ensures you always have access to a silent, long-range weapon, opening up new avenues of assassination that would otherwise have been closed to those who didn't opt to hone Arno's skills in projectile weaponry.

Speaking of weaponry, gone are the complex crafting systems of old, replaced with a far friendlier cash system: complete missions, get cash, buy and upgrade weapons and armour. This simplicity is good, because there's a dizzying amount of stuff you can buy, all of which has some sort of effect on Arno's skills. For example, certain hoods extend the range of your eagle vision, while certain pants increase your stealth abilities. The chest, forearms, waist, head, and legs can all be customised to your liking, giving you noticeable boosts across melee, stealth, health, and ranged attacks, as well as a unique look if you opt to tweak the colours.

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Annoyingly, some of the content is locked out unless you take part in the web-based Assassin's Creed: Initiates, while there are also certain chests in Paris that you can't open unless you unlock them via the Assassin's Creed Companion App. I'm all for giving people the option to extend the experience onto mobiles and tablets, or on the web, but those things should offer standalone extra content; locking stuff out of a game you've just dropped $60 on is infuriating. And it's not like that companion app is any fun either. Dull puzzle games and Top Trumps-like Nomad missions do not make for an exciting second-screen experience.

There are other irritations too: clipping issues, NPCs randomly walking in midair, and unstable frame rate during busier scenes all do their bit to suck you out of the moment, but at least none of these glitches were game-breaking. The new, freer parkour did cause a few problems though. For the most part, the freedom to scale and descend buildings at more subtle angles makes the parkour much smoother, but it also makes it far too easy to jump to the wrong part of a building, or scale down the wrong section of wall and straight into the path of an enemy. The enhanced parkour is great when it works, and immensely frustrating when it doesn't.

Also, despite whatever canonical reasons Ubisoft gives, it's really weird to wander around revolutionary Paris and have every conversation play out in a thick British accent. And not just your stereotypical typical toff accent either. They're all here: the street urchin, the cockney, and the West Country farmer. Playing Unity is just like taking a tour of Britain, only, you know, in France.

Not all of Unity's more progressive touches are for the best then, but you might spend more time noticing what's old than what's new. The terrific city atmosphere of Paris, the focus on parkour, and the incentives for performing stealthy assassinations, all these things hint at a game that's trying to return to its roots after branching out so wildly in its past two iterations. Yes, Unity is the most ACII-like of the series since, well, ACII, and while it never really hits the dizzying heights of Ezio's jaunt through 15th century Italy, Unity's similarities are comforting enough to take the edge off its less-than-successful changes.

But is it the next-gen Assassin's Creed game we've all been waiting for? Not quite. It's very good, maybe even great in places, but the story's smaller focus has come at the expense of its exquisitely rendered backdrop. The grandness and spectacle that so often graces the finest Assassin's Creeds is sadly sorely lacking here.

Back To Top
The Good
Stunning recreation of revolutionary Paris
Huge crowd scenes add to the atmosphere
Arno is a charming lead
Sandbox-style stealth missions let you plan your own assassinations
Simplified customisation makes it easier to pick skills
The Bad
Focused story doesn't make the most of its gorgeous backdrop
Arno and Elise's relationship isn't convincing
Free-form parkour system doesn't always work as intended
Lacks the grand scale and spectacle of Assassin's Creed
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Assassin's Creed Unity

About the Author

Mark has been a member of the brotherhood since Assassin's Creed II, but prefers to forget about ACIII. For the purposes of this review he completed the single-player, indulged in some co-op, and played through a good chunk of Unity's side quests.
1989 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for Xmeromotu
Xmeromotu

The solution to the problem of having British accents in Paris is simply to switch the game language to French and use subtitles. I'm certainly not fluent, and it seems much more natural now.

Also chasing all the side missions gives you exactly the opportunity you want: to explore the vast city and atmosphere of the game.

Avatar image for jsprunk
JSprunk

@Xmeromotu: I wish I would've thought of that before I completely finished the game and the DLC.

Avatar image for mehrunezzdagon
MehrunezZDagon

Holy cow,

this community is sooooooooooooo full of shit ! ! !

Avatar image for advocacy
advocacy

Whoever writes the review for Assassin's Creed Syndicate should read this review first. If there are little to no improvements in the series, then the next game in the franchise should receive a much lower score.

Avatar image for jalapen0
jalapen0

graphics are beautiful. but it's almost only positive thing about the game.


the gameplay mechanics haven't changed since the ac2. the missions are boring. go there, assassinate him, talk to him, protect her etc. it's annoying. yes i've had a lot of fun in the previous games but seeing same things at every new game is boring me. if it's a next gen ac game, it should be a totally next gen ac game, better graphics and huge crowd arent enough.


i barely beat the game and gonna sell it. buying syndicate? i don't think so. this serie brought a revolutionary gameplay and a gorgeous gameworld with the first ac game. and ac2 was beautiful too. but ubisoft didn't develop the serie as it should be. in my opinion after releasing syndicate, ubisoft should pass the next year and develop a new ac game without in a hurry. maybe then we can see a playable and enjoyable ac game.


ps: i miss the various cities and villages in the first game.

Avatar image for jsprunk
JSprunk

@jalapen0: Just got done playing this on my PC in 2019. Graphics looked horrible to me, and I play a lot of games from 2015 and before.

Avatar image for jockstrapon
jockstrapon

As an extremely massive AC fan i found this game......

BEAUTIFULLY BORING.


To look at ...wow, especially as this was the first next gen game i have bought. In my opinion Ubisoft have lost their storytelling somewhere down the line, which is what made this game series so captivating in the first place to me and have replaced it with a beautiful carcass. Great to look at with no substance.


Bring back the great depth of the story and you will get your fans back. Look at naughty dog if you need inspiration.

Avatar image for Mo60
Mo60

@jockstrapon Or CD project Red.

Avatar image for jay34mcr
Jay34mcr

Seeing as Gamespot didn't do a review for the PC version, and probably with good reason this is meant for the PC users and to get the airheads at Ubisoft to listen to some sense.



Why are Ubisoft so awful at making games?


Why do they have one of the worst gaming platforms? (Uplay)


Why are they working on a new AC when they haven't even made the previous one barely playable?


I'm done with Ubisoft. A french company with little to no experience with customer satisfaction and false representation (especially with Watchdogs)


You may be tempted but don't pre-order Syndicate and only buy it at least 6 weeks after launch providing they have fixed what will also be wrong with this game.


No promised tessellation, horible stuttering since release still not been addressed.


UBISOFT ARE CRAP AT MAKING PLAYABLE GAMES

Avatar image for mhfon
mhfon

And now, is this game fixed?

Avatar image for Shantmaster_K
Shantmaster_K

@mhfon It was for me. Only minor glitches.

Avatar image for auditorevita
auditorevita

Dear Developer of Ubisoft. Please read this!!

A main story of Arno was not the story about French Revolution in UNITY.
It is fraudulent advertising.

Arno was not involved in the French Revolution at all.

Please revise a main story of Arno to the story about French Revolution.

Please revise a main story of Arno into a story of stopping reign of terror after supporting the French Revolution.

Please bring back a confession scene after the assassination.

Please bring back the battle using the hidden blade.

Please bring back a kill streak.

Please add ambient music in all the time of the Assassin's creed Unity.

Please change clothes of Arno to the black and red

Because clothes of Arno is very blue unlike a package.

Please understand that all of assassin's creed fans made big expectation for the Assassin's creed Unity.

And, please understand that they were betrayed.

All assassin's creed fans thinking that the French Revolution was too early at the Assassin's creed.

Please know that assassin's creed fan standing at the crossroads whether or abandon Ubisoft.
And all game fans are careful about the next movement of Ubisoft.

Avatar image for jay34mcr
Jay34mcr

@auditorevita lol are you suprised about them lying? Its Ubisoft after all!

Avatar image for Conscrumptured
Conscrumptured

@auditorevita I'm sure they'll get working on this very soon.

Avatar image for auditorevita
auditorevita

@Conscrumptured @auditorevita Really?

Why were you sure they'll get working on this very soon?

Avatar image for never-satisfied
never-satisfied

To many bugs, guards are overpowered with their guns, Arno is incredibly stupid and struggles to jump or even run at times, the game play itself is ok for a good 2-3 days but after that its about as fun as playing snakes and ladders with your nan. Im going to stick to no.3 and black flag for now.

On the up side the graphics are incredible taking into account how far you can see and all the detail included but thats as far as my praise goes.

Avatar image for m-kswiss
M-Kswiss

Alright, after delaying to buy this game, I finally bought it. Let's just say, Ubisoft made this game so that Assassin's Creed 3 is not so bad anymore... Narratively speaking. (Note to self, watch next Assassin's Creed game on YouTube) I'm done buying these games.

Avatar image for jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

This game was released too soon, with too many bugs period. While incredbily beautiful, game play is poor, and many quests are bland.

This article sums up the problems with AC unity better then anything. http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-12-19-buggy-games-deserve-much-harsher-treatment

I have played the games at launch since the first AC on xbox 360 which was plagued with problems also, but this one ... was simply in need of Q&A and maybe a tad more time.

Avatar image for monks99
monks99

Just bought Xbox One and I love it!!! PLEASE friend request me for HALO, ACU, FORZA HORIZON 2 and FORZA 5!! I play these games all the time!!! Thanks guys!!! USERNAME is miggity106

Avatar image for deactivated-58bf2c0ad76b2

Got this on Black Friday for fairly cheap and I'm liking it quite a bit.

I'm glad they mentioned the accents, because it made me try playing the game with French dialogue and English subtitles. I like it! Can be a bit difficult to read and play at the same time but a lot of the french actors are quite good.

Avatar image for streamline
streamline

@FinalPreator It reminds me of older US made TV shows and movies where anyone alien, from outside the US or Earth, had a British accent.

Avatar image for Astroliner
Astroliner

This is by far the worst reviewer ever. Also the only one who did encounder bugs and framedrops on the game.

Avatar image for jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@Astroliner Are you kidding me this game has been widely panned for its bugs and glitches.

Avatar image for phili878
phili878

This review is ridiculous. Read at the BADS about this game....so not seeing two characters go down on each other gives the game a 30% worse score....Ubisoft is perhaps the best company out there these days producing games. They actually visit all those places, invest in historians and other professionals to try make a game as fantastic as possible, but apparently the "reviewers" of today (if you can call them that), do not really care for that.

Avatar image for deactivated-57bcc1891a93a

@phili878 exaggeration overload.

Avatar image for brocklee5000
brocklee5000

It's part of the story and it has to be convincing if it is put in. Overall this game is getting bashed. No one caresabout historical events or figures if the gameplay and story is terrible. Reviewers have no biased towards or against the AC games because they continually give up and down reviews for all the AC games.

Tip, if you want to see historical events and figures, go watch movies.

Avatar image for duncancameron23
duncancameron23

Actually I do

Avatar image for Aero5555
Aero5555

The frame rate "freeze" is jarring and almost a game breaker. I noticed it's similar to the Skyrim issue on PS3. So, rebooting the game should fix that (I think it did, for me atleast). Better than nothing. The new parkour system is also 60% functional. Way too glitchy.


Aside from that, I liked the up-scaled visuals and the way assassinations are basically leeching off Hitman's best mechanics. I kinda agree with the score.

Avatar image for deactivated-57bcc1891a93a

@Aero5555 for the PC version the 1.3 patch got rid of that stuttering mostly. i just have to do what you said every hour or so. eh, i'll take it.

Avatar image for Aero5555
Aero5555

@Kickable @Aero5555 Thanks for the heads up. Unfortunately, already beat and sold it even before I posted the original comment lol.


It's a very very very good game if the bugs are a non-factor. Fun.

I'm one of those who'll buy AC even though it's being milked. It ain't broke? It's fun? Keep 'em comin', I say.

Avatar image for dabomb790
dabomb790

One of the things i vehemently disagree with Mark Walton (the reviewer) is when we said, "The benefit of Unity's exclusivity to the latest generation of consoles isn't immediately obvious, particularly if you're focused on face-value aesthetics, which look only slightly more impressive here than they did in Black Flag." I mean honestly, I feel dude must've been a little intoxicated or high before writing this review. The game looks vastly improved and better from previous iterations of the franchise. Plus they used a lot awesome camera effects that can only be accomplished on next-gen such as blur, depth of field, increased draw distance and other neat tricks. Overall it's has a strong filmic and cinematic flair that the last-gen couldn't hope to capture.


Don't take his word when he's talking about the graphics. It's a HUGE leap from Black Flag. Simply because of the fact you see hundreds, if not, thousands of people on the street at one time while seeing them from a long distance. Black Flag looks a game made for PS3 and 360 with improved textures running on a high resolution for its current gen counterparts. The game looks terrific and is way better than the score he's giving. There many side missions which feels polished and deep, plus the story pulls you in like you're watching a Hollywood film, and the combat is deep and thrilling where each battle feels rewarding and satisfying due to a stronger difficulty.


But yeah, don't write this off. He seems like an editor who was tasked to write a review for a game he wasn't that much interested in. The graphics are way better than he's portraying, the story is much more appealing than he's giving it credit for, but plus there are a ton of interesting and alluring things to do that reels you in and keeps you playing (mind you I'm already near the end of the game). Give this one a shot, digging this a bit more than Black Flag. You won't be disappointed!

Avatar image for MaddenBowler10
MaddenBowler10

@dabomb790 Agreed. I feel this game- graphically, was a major leap over previous AC titles. Walton needs some new glasses.

Avatar image for Derugs
Derugs

NOT a very good review.

Avatar image for Erilis
Erilis

This is one of the most reasonable reviews I've read. I don't agree with all of it but most of it I do. Tough but fair.

I was happy to see it drop the naval combat and go back to the stealth assassination missions and combat of the first few titles.

Avatar image for forbiddenmow
forbiddenmow

KiddiesCreed

Avatar image for evexxxxx
evexxxxx

Has the game been fixed yet? Any updates?

Avatar image for eLite0101
eLite0101

@evexxxxx There should be patch 1.3 sometimes soon that should hopefully fix more important things.

Avatar image for Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

Excellent stealth my ass. Cover mechanic is utterly and completely broken, double assassinations are incredibly inconsistent and difficult to pull off. To top it all when you get noticed, later enemies gun you down in few seconds. Disguise skill is forcibly turned off for some missions, and also there is no way to lure a guard to your position but to drop a FIRECRACKER that no one hears from more than 3 meters away.


Horrible review.

Avatar image for Erilis
Erilis

@Morphine_OD You can lure guards by hiding right after their symbol turns red or orange. If it's yellow they will not investigate.

Avatar image for Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

@Erilis great workaround there and for the game to lag less you can play offline. So what? It's still a workaround and the issue is still an issue.

Avatar image for voljin1987
voljin1987

I could get this. But I am having too much fun playing AC Mordor right now to care for this.

Avatar image for Sevenizz
Sevenizz

I usually pick these up in a bargain bin. Looks like I'll have to wait for this one to hit the 10 dollar mark.

Avatar image for Payasoplas
Payasoplas

@Sevenizz Even if the game would have reached a higher score I would wait for it on the bargain bin, UBISOFT is crowding the market with an excessive ammount of AC's games...

Avatar image for sherrypizza
sherrypizza

Love the game, probably the best AC of the franchise, apart from minor glitches but who cares.

Avatar image for dabomb790
dabomb790

@sherrypizza I certainly have to agree with you bro, from the alluring, cinematic story with all of its next-gen boasting and flair to the varied and fun side missions to the engaging story missions that are compelling, freeform, and distinct the game is a pleasure and delight to play! Certainly up there as one of my favorites!

Avatar image for Sevenizz
Sevenizz

A lot care. These games strive for emotional involvement. Seeing a random NPC float by or an unintentionally deformed head takes away from that.

Avatar image for streamline
streamline

@Sevenizz You're telling us that those aren't normal things to see in France?

Avatar image for jj2112
jj2112

What's the Eiffel tower doing in revolutionary France?

Avatar image for devious_nige
Devious_Nige

@jj2112 Google search 'Helix Rifts in Unity' and there's your answer

Assassin's Creed Unity More Info

Follow
  • First Released Nov 11, 2014
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Assassin’s Creed Unity is the next-gen evolution of the blockbuster franchise powered by an all-new game engine. From the storming of the Bastille to the execution of King Louis XVI, experience the French Revolution as never before, and help the people of France carve an entirely new destiny.
    6.6
    Average Rating732 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Assassin's Creed Unity
    Developed by:
    Ubisoft Montreal
    Published by:
    Ubisoft
    Genre(s):
    Adventure, Third-Person, 3D, Action
    Theme(s):
    Historic
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol