Unity takes the action to 18th Century Paris with new lead protagonist Arno. Some 50 years after the pirating events of the previous game Black Flag and around 100 years after the discovery of the Americas in Assassin’s Creed III. At this time France was in one of it’s many periods of revolutionary zeal with the demise of Louis XVI and the rise of Napoleon providing the back drop to the action this time out.
This seventh mainline entry in Ubisoft’s premier historical open-world franchise launched to a back drop of some notoriety. This was a very, very ambitious game with a new version of their Anvil game engine being shown off for the first time. Alas this ambition would prove Ubisoft’s undoing. Intel have a tick-tock policy when releasing their processors. New features on the the tick, new manufacturing techniques on the tock, never the two together. Ubisoft changing the underlying game engine and introducing new game features proving too much in one release. The PC version in particular was ridiculed at launch with pretty horrifying glitches in character rendering.
When I first played this game it was a few months after the initial launch and by then the first patches had been applied fixing the worst experiences at release. Indeed I don’t actually recall encountering anything beyond the standard Anvil game glitches every Assassin’s Creed game exhibits, and certainly remember nothing here being as game breakingly bad as what I saw in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.
AI density and crowds are the largest, most deeply packed, of any Assassin’s Creed game and certainly nothing I’ve seen rivalled until the opening Paris level in the most recent Hitman trilogy many years later. For the first time in this type of game, and fitting for a city in the mist of a revolution, the streets actually feel alive.
Unity also improves on the Assassin’s Creed formula vertically. Buildings tower over the player and feel more realistically in proportion. This necessitates an improvement in the underlying parkour to make climbing and descending three or four stories a little more fluid than previous games blessed with a lower skyline. It does take some getting used to but ultimately works surprisingly well.
All in all Unity is a very good game that is unfortunately placed between two series highlights in Black Flag and Syndicate, and marred by launch glitches.