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Should We Worry About Assassin’s Creed: Unity?

With little over a month to go until release, I’ve got to hope that Ubisoft Montreal will pull its finger out if Assassin’s Creed: Unity is going to be ready for launch.

Unity is supposed to be the ultimate Assassin’s Creed experience. A return to the core values that the franchise was once established on, and an opportunity for the series to truly establish itself as a force to be reckoned with in the next-generation.

But the work Ubisoft has done on the three main pillars of the series – focusing on rebuilding the stealth, combat and navigation systems and mechanics – just isn’t coming together. To be honest, two are in a worst state than they’ve ever been before.

Combat feels the worse off. In an attempt to finally move the series away from one-touch parry battles – that let even the most inebriated assassin make it through large altercations without a scratch – the flow of combat has been broken. It’s more difficult, but perhaps not in the way Ubisoft intended.

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Fights with three or more enemies usually leads to a desynchronisation, which is fair enough; we’re supposed to be assassin’s not Rambo in a robe. But swinging swords and firing pistols feels imprecise and unsatisfying. The parry system is finicky and when you do finally land a few blows with your blade, the animation feels laboured under the pressure of your button inputs.

But the real problem is the numerous glitches; as Arno swooped in to perform cinematic kills he had a tendency to glitch through enemies entirely – sword arm and all. Or the weapon would just float around the victim, blood splattering from a wound never made. Perhaps it’s an in-development bug. Perhaps it’s because I’m playing on Xbox One. Believe me folks, I considered both of these possibilities. But the problems persisted, and so did my concerns.

A month away from launch, not to mention one of the first hands-on sessions press have actually had with Unity since its reveal at E3 2013, I expected the code to be in better shape. A couple of sword battles later I decided to try a stealthy approach to tackling Unity’s open world and missions. There’s only so much frustration I can stand. Or so I thought.

Unity has introduced a dedicated stealth button into play, but it doesn’t assist in your attempt to stick to the shadows. If anything, it makes it more difficult. What’s the point of clinging to cover if you’re ultimately limited with what you can do from it? It’s near-impossible to navigate around and/or over cover – leading to plenty of situations where we were discovered by AI because we simply had nowhere to move to. Even GTA 5 managed to implement a satisfying cover system, think about that Ubisoft Montreal.

It feels like Unity is ticking a box off of a fans Assassin’s Creed wishlist instead of introducing a worthwhile mechanic.

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Stealth has improved slightly in the open world, with Arno automatically becoming hidden as he moves into crowds. We’ve heard plenty about Unity displaying 5,000 NPCs on screen at once – it’s a shame that they still have no reaction to the hooded lunatic adorned in weaponry walking amongst them. They react to our presence and aggressive movement like we’re not there at all. We also noticed a surprising amount of repeated character models, something the trailers have done a good job of hiding thus far.

And then we get to the final pillar of Unity: navigation. For better or worse, it’s simply Assassin’s Creed in that regard. Climbing is still as automated as ever. You’re still latching onto environments and roughly manoeuvring the character with the thumbstick towards rooftops. You never really have the sensation that you’re a master parkour artist, or that you’re in full control of the character – but then again, we weren’t expecting much in the way of innovation on that front. It’s essentially been the same since it first debuted in 2007. Being able to parkour down environments is a neat touch, but also seemed finicky. More often than not it was easier to just seek out the nearest haystack to get back on the streets.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity is still a month away and though the combat and stealth systems feel unfinished, there is hope it could be fixed. If the rest of the game was solid, then perhaps there would be less cause for concern, but it’s – honestly – a buggy hellscape of frustration. We’d routinely see buildings materialise in-front of our eyes, dead enemies getting caught in environments and, on a couple of occasions, we even fell through the environment entirely. Falling and falling until we eventually desynchronised.

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Before I leave, I’d like to share my first experience with Assassin’s Creed: Unity. It’s also the event that left the longest lasting impression.

I took my first steps into the first truly next-generation Assassin’s Creed – Ubisoft’s first next-gen only game – towards the Notre Dame Cathedral and began to clamber up its imposing walls. The scale was truly impressive, but the textures failing to load wasn’t.

I positioned Arno Dorian on a spire of the Cathedral and prepared for the most impressive looking synchronisation I’d ever seen in an Assassin’s Creed to date. The camera began to swing around the area, but I didn’t see city streets bustling with activity or a draw distance so impressive I received an involuntary next-gen stirring in my pants. I saw fog. Dreary looking fog covering everything in sight. Perhaps it was just a suspiciously overcast day in Paris, I considered it at least.

So off me and Arno went to see the sights of 18th Century Paris. We visited the Louvre, conquered the Bastille, and scaled the Palais-Royal. Every time it was the same old story. Fog. As soon as we moved away from the streets and into the skies, the game generated enough black ice to put a KISS concert to shame.

In the previous generation perhaps this wouldn’t have bothered us, but after three years of development and four months of incredibly impressive technical demonstrations from Ubisoft we were expecting better from Unity. It’s Ubisoft’s Big Thing this year, so hopefully many of these problems will be fixed. But it was overlooked with Assassin’s Creed 3 and 4; hopefully it won’t be the same this year.

SOURCE: NowGamer – Read entire story here.


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