I could not believe my luck. I really couldn’t. The news that not one, but two, new Assassin’s Creed games were being released. I was like a giddy child at Christmas, as clichéd as it is to say that.
So, having both an Xbox 360, and an Xbox One, I promptly proceeded to pre-order both games as soon as I heard of their release; a great many months ago now. It was a long wait. An agonising wait. I know that big companies like EA and Ubisoft save their best franchises for the Christmas rush… And holy fuck do I hate them for that.
Then, perhaps unsurprisingly, not one, but both of the titles were pushed back by around a fortnight. After months though, the agony of a baker’s dozen of days would be negligible. No one told me that that was the American launch…
Ubisoft went on my list.
Then midnight came around. My Xbox one digital pre-order of Unity unlocked. And that was me busy from that moment, until now. I stuck with it. I forced myself to stick with it. I felt, that as a long standing AC fan, I had to stick with it.
Contrary to what I’ve read from dozens of sources online, I can actually say I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the challenge of the gameplay, so different from any of the earlier AC games. So many more ‘fucking bullshit!’ moments; so many more deaths and so many brilliant new things. I’m not going to lie. A part of me missed the naval aspect of Black Flag, first introduced back in AC III (albeit in a more linear fashion).
Playing Unity from day one, there were many things that annoyed me. The frame rate problems were appalling for a game with such a strong pedigree. But where I have read that the problems it caused made it unplayable, I wholeheartedly disagree. It was never unplayable to me… Not even when the sounds glitched into a near dubstep arrangement, and the frame rate dropped below the ‘supposed’ 30 fps.
And why? Well, that’s a simple question to answer. If like me, you avoid the hype of games until after their completion… You may have dashed expectations, but you also have awe. You don’t sit there expecting it to be so much more than it is. You don’t ruin the best bits of dialogue (I’m thinking of you GTA V) with the trailers. You may still be disappointed with the game, like I am a little with Unity. But you’re never left destroyed by the hype.
AC Unity has many problems. I will never disagree that Ubisoft should have released just one of the two games they released, and had their other workshops working on the same game, rather than two different ones. Maybe that would have put an end to so many annoyances. But Unity was a fun game. It was much more of a challenge and much less of a bore than previous ACs. It’s the first of the franchise that I have considered a game, rather than an interactive novel… And yes, it was fun.
My problem with it is differs from the ones that seem to bother the majority of players. Not the micro transactions, which, if you’re patient, you don’t need. Nor the obviousness of how unfinished the title was. Nobody likes jumping off a low rooftop and missing the floor completely, instead falling through the scenery for a good 30 seconds. But that’s not it either. I was certainly not bothered by the complete change of direction that the multiplayer took… Because I loved it. And I have always hated AC multiplayer, since its first incarnation. And, Ok, I was bothered that they didn’t bring back the recruitable and reliable assassins from the earlier games… Nothing ever pleased me more than having minions to do my bidding. But that’s still not it.
My only serious grievance with the game was simple: plot. Assassin’s Creed is one of the most beautifully researched and brilliantly written stories I have ever played, and Unity was simply not up to standard. To put a comparison into the mix, Black Flag was such a brilliantly researched story, and the fiction so seamlessly intertwined, that it inspired me to research deeper into the Caribbean pirates of the time, and that itself spawned the first novel I’ve ever managed to complete. The story of that game was so brilliantly exciting and fascinating, that I could never put it down, even with all of the monotony of the sailing. But thanks to Unity, I don’t think the French Revolution is interesting enough to warrant a novel of its own. Which is really a shame because I know enough about it to know it was actually incredibly interesting, and yet AC have managed to kill it for me.
So with the rushed let down of Unity now completed, I have finally put the disc of Rogue into my 360. Having only launched it, I already disapprove. Not only does it appear on the face of the title menu, to be a carbon copy of Black Flag, but from a templar perspective, I truly disapprove of being a templar. The previous games have had me too set against them to suddenly cross allegiances… I almost don’t want to play it, thinking that should I put the pad down, many assassins may survive and spawn new truly great titles. I don’t want to cut down the next best assassin, for yet another half finished and fully rushed game. I guess time will tell. But two simultaneous games, on the face of it, appear to be too much to handle for some franchises.
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