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Assassins Creed: Unity – A Good framework 

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By: Jake Gibbons, Lion’s Eye Staff Writer, jmg6173@psu.edu

I’d like to begin by saying that I’ve never had any serious experience with the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and my knowledge of the series before I began was limited to the ranting and raving of friends and relatives and about five cumulative minutes of total seat time spread out across a the years since the series’ conception. So, after being subjected to an especially long and almost violent rant given by my close friend about the latest title, Unity, I decided now is the time to try the game for myself and see just what eight titles worth of hype is actually like.

Unity is the latest game in the series, and the second one to appear on next-generation consoles (PS4/Xbox One). The story follows Arno Dorian, a son of a nobleman, during the heat of the French Revolution in the late 18th century. After Arno’s father is killed, he learns that his father was part of a secret and ancient order of assassins, which he must join in order to uncover the true force behind the revolution and defeat the Assassins’ rival faction, called the Templars.

The story is littered with history, merging real world events and historical figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte and King Louis XVI with a fictional sort of sub-storyline. Overall, it’s an interesting theme, but not much else; the narrative is fairly weak and at the end you don’t really care about what happens to Arno one way or the other. The Assassins and the Templars are a long standing theme of the series, and the game is presented as though you are a descendant of the Assassin bloodline in the present and have to use a Templar developed system to access past memories and develop the story. It’s all sort of confusing and, honestly, a bit silly.

As this is a next-gen game the developers of Unity intended to use every ounce of the new consoles’ processing power, and it shows. The game is a gorgeous thing to behold, each district of Paris pulsing with life, all with a distinct feel and culture that oozes from every wall of every home, church, and palace. There are a number of side missions in Unity (which you’ll want to play) which help to define them even more; things like murder mysteries, heists, assassination contracts, or entirely separate subplots. The character customization is strong too, with a slew of weapons, armor, color schemes, abilities, and equipment to suit individual play style, from stealthy tactician to haphazard barnstormer.

Though the game looks amazing, playing it isn’t as rewarding. Before you actually start the game for the first time, there are nearly seven gigabytes of patches and fixes to install, and even with those in place, the gameplay is still shaky at best, with a lot of frame skips, glitches, and general awkwardness, especially with the game’s free running system, which never really gets your character to do exactly what you want. This, coupled with torturous loading screens, makes it feel like a remastered PS3 game instead of a brand new title.

Multiplayer is where Unity really begins to come alive.  Four players can freely roam Paris and complete jobs together, or a player can jump right into another’s solo session and request assistance. Each online mission follows a separate storyline as well for some added depth to the online play. This system is all new for Unity and it serves as an excellent framework for all future titles to be based on.

Sadly, I cannot compare this game seriously to the others in the series, and sadly, I have only a finite amount of space to tell about Unity. After playing it, I feel like raving for hours like my friend did to me before I experienced it.

Since I can’t do that, just think of it like this: everything it does well, it really does well, and everything it does wrong it really does wrong.

If they keep the good and ditch the bad, the next installment will be the stuff of legend.

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