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Another rant about Assassin’s Creed: Unity

Assassin’s Creed: Unity has received, well, some rather mixed reviews.

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Assassin's Creed Unity

A quick look on Metacritic sees the game with a score of 76. Not too bad, although the text of most reviews indicate a much lower rate of satisfaction.

It appears that Ubisoft knew that the game was not quite a classic and slapped a curiously timed review embargo on the game (Nicely covered by Polygon and Kotaku).

In the last 24 hours Unity has been pulled from pillar to post. The result is a sobering Metacrtic user score of 3.4 and criticism from all corners of the internet.

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The low user score is probably not deserved from a gameplay perspective. The game is taking a beating for a number of, if not shady at least misguided, practices by Ubisoft. And on many of these points, it’s hard to argue. I have not played the game as yet, but as a committed fan of the Assassin’s Creed series, my desire to purchase Unity has vanished. My decision isn’t based on anger but on disappointment and sadness.

I can forgive the glitches and occasional gameplay niggles. These have always been part of the franchise and if they were that easy to solve I’m sure they would have been. I can accept that if you want to set a game in a three-dimensional playground that encompasses streets, rooftops, interiors, running, fighting and climbing – there may be a trade off.

My decision to hold on purchasing Unity is based on two other factors. One is the game’s technical performance. The other is the increasingly obtuse and manipulative layers of economy that have been applied to the series.

It is unforgivable for Ubisoft to release such an important game in such an unstable state. This time last year the publisher made the right call by delaying Watch Dogs. They took the hit and whatever you may think of the final product it’s probably a better game because of the extra development time. This year Ubisoft have decided to take the other path and release a game that appears unfinished.

I have no doubt that many of these issues will be patched and the technical performance will improve but it’s no way to treat your audience, especially when you are asking for £45+ (or more if you have plumped for a special edition).

And talking of money, there is the game’s economy.

Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag was admired by many, myself included. It was an impressive game that took the series in new a bold new direction with a regained sense of swagger.

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But alongside the feats of derring-do and adventure there was an increasingly tedious collection of resource management mechanics that were used to unlock meaningless items and attributes. This type of gameplay appears to be all the more prominent in Unity and it leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.

In Assassin’s Creed: Unity you can spend real money to unlock many of these items. It’s a short cut to get the rewards without the grind. In effect you are spending money to avoid a game mechanic that is deliberately designed to be a pain in the arse. It’s crass and a terribly judged piece of monetisation.

I can accept a publisher getting an extra £20 out of me for a substantial piece of game content. I’m loving the new Mario Kart 8 tracks, for instance, but this type of cash grab, culled from trashy mobile games, turns me away from Unity in a big way. These practices are sullying a once great series. And that’s why I am sad.

The Assassin’s Creed series should be one that intrigues with its take on the past and thrills with its free-roaming gameplay. Right now it sounds like an unpolished, repetitive experience, saddled with bugs and full of exploitative attempts to screw more money from its players.

Maybe it will be patched, maybe I am overreacting, but right now I want to spend my money on something else.

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Thumbsticks editor, and connoisseur of Belgian buns. Currently playing: Ape Out, Skyrim (again), and Yoshi's Crafted World.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Monish Khemani

    14th November 2014 at 8:13 am

    Maybe Far Cry 4 will be Ubisoft’s deliverance, I bet my money on it. But one thing that confounds me immensely is that Ubisoft seems to be company of many diverse faces. In the year when it delays Watch Dogs and South Park and successfully delivers, it releases avant garde projects like Child of Light and Valiant Hearts, In this same year it greatly falters with Unity incorporating micro-transactions that seem to put-off a lot of people and Rogue by removing multiplayer entirely (probably the most disruptive aspect of the Creed franchise in years), The same year where Far Cry 4 seems like a plausible GOTY, the same year where the showings of The Crew and The Division make them seem like the most daring AAA games by the publisher. Confounds me immensely.

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