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Dec. 4 2014
Assassin's Creed: Unity - PS4 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
13/11/2014UbisoftUbisoftUbisoft Montreal12-4
Version HDD Install Resolution Touchpad PS4 Exclusive OFLC Rating

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The streets of Paris are chaotic during the FrenchRevolution in Assassin's Creed: Unity.
It's fair to say that for Ubisoft, a French company, creating a game based on the French Revolution and set in Paris must be a dream project. After the phenomenal success of last year’s Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, a game which we loved very much here at Futuregamez, there was a lot at stake for this title which is for current- gen systems only and promised so much.

Assassin's Creed: Unity is set in Paris in 1789. The French Revolution has turned a once-magnificent city into a place of terror and chaos. Its cobblestoned streets run red with the blood of commoners who dare to rise up against an oppressive aristocracy. Yet as the nation tears itself apart, a young man named Arno Dorian will embark upon an extraordinary journey to expose the true powers behind the Revolution. His pursuit will throw him into the middle of a ruthless struggle for the fate of a nation, and transform him into a true Master Assassin.

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Paris is stunningly recreated in Assassin's Creed: Unity.
So before we start the main review, let's get to the white elephant in the room - the game's technical issues. As you may have noticed, our PS4 reviews here at Futuregamez now include a version number at the top, and Assassin's Creed: Unity has been the catalyst for this change. When the game was released it was a mess with dozens of bugs and issues reported by gamers and reviewers alike. Over the last couple of weeks Ubisoft have released several patches, each one bringing with it dozens, if not hundreds, of changes and fixes and improved the game considerably.

Somewhat fortunately for us, we received the game quite late for review and besides an initial test on the non-patched disc, we have been playing on patched versions of the game. Indeed it must be said that we didn't encounter too many issues; we fell through the ground once while climbing a building, a couple of cut-scenes had terrible lip-synching so it looked like a poorly dubbed Hong Kong Kung Fu film, and occasional clipping issues and items floating where they shouldn't (at one point in a crucial cut-scene a book being held by a character was floating about 15cm above their hands). All-in-all while this game launched with a lot of issues this is improving at a rapid rate to the point where it's not such a big deal and perhaps some early review scores are reflecting the early, very buggy, builds of the game.

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Artistically Unity looks gorgeous.
Now we're not trying to excuse Ubisoft here - the game should not have been released like this. It had a deadline to make the launch date, and come hell or high water the game was going to be out with the developers set to fix any issues with patches. This is where the game industry is really starting to suck in my book. While we can understand Christmas sales affect the bottom line, long- term a rushed, buggy release, will hurt the franchise. Just ask Electronic Arts about Battlefield's perception in the marketplace now following the disastrous Battlefield 4 launch and somewhat muted response to Battlefield Hardline. Fortunately Ubisoft have realised their mistakes with Unity and are offering some nice compensation - DLC will now be free and those who ordered the Season Pass will be offered a new game for free - and we're talking new releases like Far Cry 4 or The Crew which released this week.

Anyway enough about those issues, how is this game overall? Well as expected Assassin's Creed: Unity is a third-person open world action game where your character tries to survive the complexity of the French Revolution. While the game still contains some modern day elements, they are near non-existent which, in our books, is a good thing. The story isn't overly riveting, however the real highlight is Arno's childhood friend Elise who is an absolute highlight of the game compared to the pretty dull main character. Ubisoft should have elevated her to the main character!

As with other games in the franchise the lead character has a wide range of weapons at his disposal including single handed weapons such as swords, heavy weapons, long weapons, pistols and rifles. Arno has Phantom Blades for stealth kills and takedowns and while he starts out with pretty mediocre skills and attire he can be upgraded as the game progresses and therefor improve Arno's stats and abilities such as health, attack strength and moves, and lock picking skills.

There are, however, some gameplay elements that have been removed. One of the biggest staples of the franchise - being able to perform double assassinations from above - isn't available until a fair way into the game. Even more bizarre then that is the fact you can no longer hide bodies to avoid detection. I mean this is a new(ish) console and yet you can't take a body of someone you have slain from lying in the middle of a pathway and move it into some bushes or a cupboard to hide the evidence. Bizarre.

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We could look at these visuals all day.
Prior to release much was made of the improved parkour movements across the environments - buildings, walls, and other objects. In order to improve movement it's now possible to press either X to move upwards, or Circle to move downwards when climbing, although we're not sure it's much improved over just moving the analogue stick up or down. R2 is used to run, which you'll do a lot but when running around the environments, and away from attacking enemies, you'll quite often climb up objects you either don't want to, or intend to. Melee fighting is improved and it's a lot easier to now counter and parry enemy attacks while the instant kills from a successful parry have been removed making combat a little more challenging and rewarding.

This game isn't just about the main campaign, indeed if you complete it without any side missions you're probably looking around a 30% overall completion rate. As with other games in the franchise there are plenty of side-missions and tasks to complete - finding and opening chests, chasing down criminals, completing Paris Stories which are missions not related to the main storyline. As you progress through the storyline you will also purchase a Cafe Theatre which can be upgraded and earns income as well as Social Clubs which can be used to meet and play co-op missions with friends.

One of our favourites was finding clues to solve a series of murder mysteries. In these missions you will investigate the murder scene looking for clues, interrogate people involved, and then accuse a suspect. Get it wrong and you will reduce your reward. So far we've completed around 8 of these mysteries, and there are still more to go - there's a few hours of fun here alone and indeed I wish Ubisoft had included more of these puzzle solving elements into the main Sequence missions which are primarily get to point A, sneak in and assassinate a character before escaping.

Also entertaining are Helix Rift missions which see you entering a Virtual Environment (this is a link back to the modern day component of the game), and rushing around to collect code fragments which can then be used to free trapped operatives. It's a nice diversion from the main game and, again, is a nice time waster.

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Stealth remains a major part of the game.
The developers have also included missions designed around online co-op gameplay for 2-4 players. We played several of these missions and they were tremendous fun overall - especially if both, or all, of you are on the same wavelength to work through the mission. To be honest though we're not sure these missions couldn't be completed in single player, other than the increased enemy numbers. Unfortunately things aren't perfect though as we had connection issues with other gamers, and then experienced some dropouts mid-mission. Oh, and yar, we're still pretty pissed off that there are no female assassins in the game.

Sadly there are plenty of small, niggly issues that remain with the game. Loading becomes somewhat annoying between missions or cut-scenes. Indeed, why is it with this generation that even with massive installs to the Hard Drive - in the case of this game we're talking 44GB - that we're still left to wait for 30+ seconds during loads. Might as well save my Hard Drive space and stream off the Blu-Ray disc. Movement through the crowds looks a little awkward and not nearly enough people get pissed off when you just shove them out of the way.

More annoying then all that is the amount of "social" connectivity - there is a Smartphone App available which needs to be used to unlock Nomad Chests in the main game - but there are reported issues that using the App can corrupt your save file. The game also connects to UPlay and has something called "Initiates" which changes your ranking and unlocks more content - but, ermm, whoops as of this week there are still connection issues so you can't unlock the rewards. Whoops.

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Assassin's Creed: Unity includes 4-player co- op.
Without a doubt one of the highlights of this game is the spectacular visuals. Using Ubisoft's own AnvilNext engine the recreation of Paris is jaw dropping at all times, from the highest vantage points and vistas to the streets and the sewers below them everything is simply spectacular. Never before in a video game have streets been so busy and alive and indeed at times there are over 1,000 NPC's on-screen simultaneously. People going about their normal lives, authorities trying to keep order, criminals performing crimes, shopkeepers making a living and people just trying to survive - hell, you'll even see cats and dogs going about their business. We still find some of the character models lacking a bit of detail, but Elise's hair, oh, her flaming red hair. Simply gorgeous.

It's not all great visually though; as we've mentioned already the game has been lampooned due to the number of bugs and despite improvements with patches it's the visuals which in which you are likely to encounter the most issues with clipping remaining the biggest issue, some occasional incorrectly placed objects in the world and some skipping animations. There are however two more glaring issues the first being frame rate dips which occur mostly when Arno moves through large crowds - which we must point out include hundreds of NPC's in a scene - and his movement through these crowds look a little awkward as he move his arms around to brush people out of the way. The second major graphical issue is the lip-synching which is very off the mark in some cut- scenes we encountered, but even in smaller dialogue scenes during gameplay mouths don't match the words. Not game breaking by any means but should have been fixed, or at least minimised, prior to release.

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Stealth remains a major part of the game.
As with other games in the franchise the audio is generally fantastic across the board. The voice acting is great not only from the main characters, but even from the locals just populating the streets of Paris, although the script could have been a little better at times. Music, which has been composed by Chris Tilton, Sarah Schachner and Ryan Amon captures the mood of both Paris and the action in the game perfectly while the games sound effects, including surround sound use, is equal to the task.

Assassin's Creed: Unity has had a very rocky launch window, but the game is improving at a rapid pace. There's no denying that this is a visually stunning title, but the storyline doesn't quite meet those lofty expectations or potential, and nor does the online co-op mode. Ultimately while this review is filled with negativity this game still remains very playable and entertaining and gets our recommendation. It's just that, ultimately, Ubisoft should have spent more time to polish the game to perfection.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSDespite the 900p resolution, this remains a stunning looking game with phenomenal detail and lighting around the superbly recreated Paris setting. There are very occasional glitches and frame rate stutters, but they are a lot rarer then some reports would indicat.
SOUNDDialogue is fantastic, right down to the incidental conversations between people on the streets of Paris. Solid music and effects.
GAMEPLAYAnother solid Assassin's Creed title which is fun to play depsite some wierd omissions. While the storyline is a little lacking, and the best character isn't Arno but his friend Elise. We want a game with her! The modern day component of this franchise has never excited us, and the same goes with this release. Technically the game isn't as polished as it should be and the Smartphone App requirement to access some chests in the main game is annoying. Still, it's a fun game.
VALUEOne thing Ubisoft never skimp on is the game length and this game, with all the side missions and online co-op missions, offers tremendous value.
OVERALLFor all it's "faults" Assassin's Creed: Unity is still a great release - and with every patch the bugs are diminishing to the point that it's not really an issue anymore. Audio Visual presentation is superb and while the story isn't one of the best, it's decent enough to have you playing to the end.

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