After playing the demo of “Assassin’s Creed Unity” that Ubisoft where showing off at MCM, I have to say that I am sorely disappointed. Ubisoft, in recent times, have been one of the loudest voices for the regeneration of the consoles saying things like ‘consoles are holding back the gaming industry’ (paraphrasing) because of the then older tech that was in the PS3 and Xbox 360 when compared to contemporary PC’s. But now I’ve played the ‘next gen’ instalment of the Creed franchise I can’t tell the difference.
“Assassin’s Creed” (Demo) on the Xbox One.
Even though I’ve played the all of the series on the PlayStation 3, as soon as I picked up the Xbox controller I dropped right back into the Assassin’s Creed mindset and got the controls on the near side of instant. The demo handled in the exact same way as all of the previous iterations. Hold a button to free-run, knobaling around on rooftops is the easiest way to get around, etc.
At the start, I was dropped right into a mission but I just thought “I’m going to do what I usually do in an Assassin’s Creed game” and that was find the nearest alleyway and pounce on bad guys like the bladed flying squirrel I am. Lucky for me there was both a brawl starting and a chest near by so to the roofs I went and on to the heads I jumped. Ubisoft said that they were going to make the combat more complicated as many, including me, kept saying that it was to easy and got really repetitive and really boring really fast. If the demo is to be believed they have done nothing. I fought in the same way I did in “Black Flag” and the rest of the series since instalment 2. The fight starts, the player character whips out his sword and waits for an attack. An enemy swings, I press parry, time takes a breather and I press counter and then keep mashing. Mid mashing some one else takes a swing so I go about the parry-counter-mash routine again. And again. And again, all the way until every one is dead so I nick the chest’s contents and wonder off. After the fighting state wears off, the game says in a hint bubble that the enemies you fight will remember you so if you fight a guy and run away, he will recognise you if he sees you again. Problem is I play on a “Lucky Number Sleven” method. An enemy sees me, they die. Don’t care where and when they see me. The combat is so piss easy I would just take on an armada myself and still walk away because if they see me they must die. Here it seems no different. This just means that the additions that they have made to make combat ‘harder’ are kind of pointless. Your not meant to be seen so adding something to the ‘being seen is bad’ pile of gimmicks just reiterates one of the core principles of the series and changes nothing.
After that disappointment I decided to go about the mission. It involved getting some keys so you can sneak into Notre Dame. I found the guy with the keys in a tavern nearby. The prompt said ‘steal’ but I saw it as ‘kill’ so a brawl swiftly happened. In the older games I usually just select fists as my main weapon and make people submit rather then kill. Killing would be to easy. Although looking back now, I’m not entirely sure if that was an option. Didn’t check that thoroughly so their may have been. Either way, bad guys went down and I got the keys. Rather then the front door, that had a guard detail, I opted to get in via the 1st floor window. There was about 100 other people standing by the front door but I frankly didn’t care. Then it dawned on me. Ubisoft’s other big ‘next gen’ upgrade was to have hundreds of people on screen at once. I just didn’t care. Random people is not what I’m interested in, it’s the guards I’m interested in. Before I went in the window I looked about at the ocean of people below from the roof tops and how little it affects the game. It looks impressive but it does nothing to make the game more complex or harder.
After breaking in, I swiftly took out the guards on the floor I was on as my target was below near the alter. Wouldn’t want them seeing me. After dispatching them and having a look about, I saw a hay cart of the ground floor. A good hiding spot to get people from and sneak around. So I eagle dived in and selected my next target. There was one near by so it was time to beckon him with a whistle. Except there is no whistle command. I just started pressing bottoms, nothing. I even looked at the command sheet that they gave me, still nothing. Considering it was just a ‘play sound’ command I’m stunned it wasn’t in the demo. Especially this close to release and that the demo was a sneaking, set off no alarms mission. Could of at least put in all the stealth powers. So I ended up jumping the cart out and trying to sneak round. It worked well until about half a dozen guards saw me while I was left exposed on the ground floor with not really any options left. I was quickly surrounded by a dozen or so guards in full brawl mode. By then my health was already not great. I took a few down but I was eventuality blind-sided. Ok, less considered sneaking and more running stabs in this respawn. I got to about the breaking in section in before a Ubisoft person tapped me on the shoulder saying my time was up.
It felt like an “Assassin’s Creed” game. The free-running flows well and the stabbing is fun. But I can’t see what makes this so ‘next gen’. The big touted advancement is having more people but that didn’t do anything. Your supposed to avoid people. Stealth means not being seen. But all the advancements just add to the ‘be seen’ category. Mostly I didn’t notice but when I did it shot all immersion to hell and took me out of the experience. With “Assassin’s Creed Rogue” coming out soon as well on the older platforms and as it is a direct sequel/prequel of “Black Flag”, I feel more invested in playing Rogue. It a familiar time setting and characters being compared to people I don’t know. Also on that note, with me being the nit-picky press monkey that I am, having the all French characters speak with English accents may cause a stir. You do know that England/UK and France have had a rivalry sort or relationship for several 100 years. Oh wait, your French Canadians. It would be silly if you didn’t.
With the graphics not pouncing out at me and with it playing in the exact same way as all of the other games in series, I have to say that I’m sorely disappointed. If you have to chose between the two named “Assassin’s Creed” games, I’d say be one by getting ‘Rogue‘.
Added note on the release of the game:
With the game now out there are now reviews compare my thoughts on the demo. As I see it, there are 2 scenarios. The first is that my thoughts where right and the game is just not good apart from being yet another ‘Assassin’s Creed’ game. That goes with the barely above average scores that goes with the reviews like Polygon who gave it a 6.5. The other scenario is more devious because it means that demo was so unrepresentative, so badly chopped up, that the demo that was available to the public meant nothing in how the final product was going to turn out. And that was lest then 3 weeks before the games release!
So either the game is just not very good or Ubisoft was such a devious sod to the point where demoing their game was pointless because it means nothing or even represents the final release. A barely above average game or never demo a Ubisoft game again because it doesn’t matter. Part of me thinks it the latter most but some of the former, which is rather concerning. Have to play it full to find out.
I still say get ‘Rogue‘ over ‘Unity‘.