‘Unity’ causes rift between players and product

By Austin Miller

“Assassin’s Creed Unity” takes place in the late 1700s, during the French Revolution. Players take control of Arno Dorian. Dorian is caught in the middle of the war between the Templars, a group focused on global control, and the Assassins, who seek to stop the Templars.

When Dorian is a child, his father, an Assassin, is killed. Dorian is then adopted by the father of his love interest, who turns out to be a Templar leader. After the death of his adoptive father, Dorian goes on a quest for answers regarding both deaths, leading him to join the Assassins, his father’s brotherhood.

If that brief summary sounds convoluted, it is.

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“Unity” is the eighth installment in the franchise, and it really shows in this game.

The series is known for trekking across time periods, including the Crusades, Italian Renaissance and American Revolution. But the constant jumps in time have made the overarching plot confusing. Instead of following the lineage of the first protagonist, Altair, now random Assassins serve as main characters.

The plot of the series is sacrificed for the story of individual games. It is as confusing as reading a random chapter from various “Harry Potter” books, instead of each chapter in order. Even a huge fan of the series would have trouble piecing everything together.

The setting of “Unity,” Paris during times of revolution, is the highlight of the game. The city feels like a living character, rather than bricks and mortar. Hordes of protesters fill the streets, creating a wave of hardship and frustration. The citizens are poor, starving or homeless, and they all voice their problems. No other game can boast the amount of characters on screen at one time.

The buildings also show the disparity between classes. The richer districts are pristine and clean and the poorer districts are dirty and burning.

Paris is also home to some of the most popular tourist attractions. Notre Dame, Les Invalides and Palais de Justice can all be climbed upon, as well as having their interiors open. Players can also visit the Palace of Versailles, one of the most extravagant and gigantic palaces in the world.

Along with an improved setting, the gameplay was also upgraded. Now, gamers can simply hold B, or circle, to climb down a building. That may sound simple, but in previous games, jumping was the easiest way to get down, leading to many unnecessary deaths.

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Enemies are now tougher and harder to counter, meaning battles won’t be over in a few seconds and Assassins should stick to using stealth.

Players have to go through large areas to find one target among the 30 or so guards that also occupy the space. Each assassination is reminiscent of the challenging boss levels of older games. Many games nowadays are too easy, so it is nice to see a game that expects a little more.

In addition, cooperative missions have been added for the first time. Four players can join together to take out multiple Templars. These missions are larger in scale and difficulty. All four players are needed to complete a level. The cooperative missions are the most fun levels in the entire game, but there are too few of them.

While there are bright spots in “Unity,” it is the latest release to suffer from mechanical problems. Every couple minutes there are drops in the frame rate, making the game stop and stutter. One minute, Dorian is running over the rooftops of Paris, the next it looks like he’s stuck in molasses.

While the ability to climb down buildings was an improvement, there were several times where Dorian would drop and fall through the cobblestone streets. He would continue falling down a white abyss, then be shot back up and killed.

These weren’t isolated incidents; they would happen multiple times an hour.

In the “Halo: Master Chief Collection” review it is mentioned how frustrating it is to keep having these unfinished games released continuously. But this one is even more infuriating.

In August, developer Ubisoft announced the release of “Unity” would be delayed two weeks. Ubisoft knew the game had problems and decided they only needed two weeks to fix them. Boy were they wrong.

With “Halo,” if you could get into a game, you could at least play it. With “Unity,” it almost wants you not to play it. As those glitches add up, playing it becomes a chore.

There is fun in this game, especially if someone can find a group of friends to play with. But you’re better off waiting for the game to be patched.

Stars: 2.5 out of 5

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