Assassin's Creed is an annualized series, but that doesn't mean that Assassin's Creed Unity itself should be taken for granted. In some ways the game represents a return to form of the franchise's heyday with Ezio Auditore; fulfilling many of the hopes I had for this title and making it one I think should be included in this year's list of Top 50 games.
After forays into the high seas and wilderness of the past few games, Assassin's Creed returns to the type of setting in which its flourished – a dense urban locale filled with a rich history, a multitude of tasks, and captivating architecture. Paris isn't just a location in the game, it's a living city. I knew I was hooked when I started reading all the database entries for the buildings, history, and characters. The game certainly has its bugs and people have remarked on having trouble scaling said buildings, but I haven't had any more trouble than in previous AC games. In fact, I think the game does a reasonable job interpreting my intentions – apart from swinging through windows.
Unity is, of course, chock full of missions like other titles in the series, and I liked how many of them create a companion narrative that fleshes out the world. Whether it's renovating my theater base, co-op heists (which can also be done solo), Paris missions, or the new murder mysteries, I'm always eager to dive into the wealth of content. Sometimes it's just for the money, other times it's to add to the fabric of the city and its story, and there's also the thrill of the challenge. The Nostradamus riddles are a nice diversion from the bloodbath that occupies most of your time.
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The fact that the game has players start from scratch and build their Assassin combat and stealth techniques doesn't bother me – they match Arno's own initiation into the Brotherhood. It didn't take me long to become a force to be reckoned with, and the skill point system also allowed me to build the Assassin that I wanted. It also meant that the game didn't have to spend precious in-game time tutorializing for weapons and gadgets that I wasn't going to use anyway.
Planning for A.I. enemies' heightened awareness and coming to grips with a tweaked counter combat system became more absorbing as the game went on. I liked the difficulty, and still felt that I had enough tools at my disposal to escape even hairy situations. When I was gunned down ruthlessly, I knew that there was another way that I could approach the problem next time. On top of it all, quietly assassinating random guards, story villains, and even random thugs in the street is still worryingly satisfying.
Unity's role as a reset for the franchise is mirrored in the story. The game pares back the modern storyline (which had become a mess anyway) and Arno's journey focuses on his relationship with Elise. The latter is effective and is what makes Arno more than just another Ezio.
The Top 50 Challenge
Assassin's Creed Unity came out with a number of bugs and requisite updates, starting it off on a bad foot. Nevertheless, there is loads of worthwhile content, and the game has reaffirmed my excitement in the series. I know that Reiner has played all the titles in the franchise, so I'm curious if feels as rejuvenated as I do.
Reiner was given one day
to play Assassin's Creed Unity. Come back tomorrow at 8 AM CT to read his impressions
and see if Assassin's Creed Unity will get his support for Game Informer's Top 50
Games of 2014.