So let’s get this shocker out of the way now: we didn’t have any major issues with it. Maybe we got lucky, maybe everyone else has exaggerated in the way that Everyone Else seems to do. Maybe the truth waggles and pulses somewhere in the middle, like the dangling haustellum of some giant crustacean.
We had our main character's leg twist strangely behind his back. We had a bit of brief freezing a few times, and some issues with floating props. But that was about it.
So… what are we supposed to do? Join in the rent-a-mob whinging, based upon the rabid testimony of others? Or take the game as we found it? Being level-headed and unexpectedly sober for once, we have opted for the latter. This is the last you will hear from us of Unity's bugs.
As you probably know by now, Unity takes the Assassin’s Creed franchise to revolutionary Paris (and, on and off, to the Paris of the late-1800s, to appease those wondering where the Eiffel Tower had gone).
You play Arno Poncelord, a sort of Parisian playboy (except… in the usual AC “twist” – you don’t really), who, when he’s not fannying around in an ongoing love story, is trying to avenge his father’s murder. He does this by becoming an assassin; doing murders, going on endless treasure hunts, and running around rooftops, shrieking like a toddler (in our heads). Refreshingly, it barely touches upon the broader AC Abstergo narrative that has been holding back the franchise for ages now, and revels more in the historical meat and potatoes.
Practically speaking, it follows the usual UbiSoft pattern – a huge open world, full of collectibles, story missions, and a ton of side missions – boasting a wealth of historical detail. If you ever wanted to steal severed heads for Madame Tussaud (and who hasn’t?) – now’s your chance.
It should be stated that this is one of the most beautiful games of all time. As a justification for the newest generation of hardware it couldn’t come soon enough. Paris is stunning; sublimely-lit streets, full of raving mobs, falling leaves, and ominous puddles.
It feels real – from the slums to the palaces and cathedrals, the city is alive. Finally, a game which throws scores of NPCs on screen at one time, and it doesn’t seem to be gratuitous showing off, like a couple of nudes in the freezer aisle of Lidle, making a song and dance about "accidentally" forgetting their clothes. That said, judging from the accents, UbiSoft seemingly couldn't make up its mind whether 18th Century Paris was populated with French people or Cockneys.
For a good while, exploring Paris is enough; it’s that gorgeous. And if you’re a history fart like what we are, you’ll enjoy the depth of the authenticity. But, sadly, that only gets the game so far.
Beneath the gloss of the setting, beneath the new multiplayer features – including copious, but hardly essential, co-op missions, which feature sprawling and challenging heists – the franchise is starting to show its age. And that’s all kinds of wrong when you consider that 2013’s Black Flag had given it a much needed knuckle to the buttocks.
Unity's parkour prancing is every bit as frustrating as it has always been – you still only end up where you want to go about 60% of the time, forever gripping onto bits of scenery you’d intended to avoid, or jumping through windows you hadn’t meant to jump through, or plummeting to a real bad death.
Similarly, combat isn’t as fluid as we've always wished it was in this series. Maybe they were aiming for realism, but it feels unresponsive. And these are issues that have been there since the very first Assassin's Creed, and should've been addressed by now. If only to please us.
When you combine that with a sense of having done all this before, we found ourselves getting bored – which seems perverse in a game which has so much going on, and does so much right.
Sadly, it was a feeling we also had playing UbiSoft's Far Cry 4 – and it had been years since Far Cry 3. When you figure that there’s yet another Assassin’s Creed – Victory – due next Christmas, that's a big problem, guy. You've got to wonder whether even the series' hardcore fan base will begin to lose patience...
SUMMARY: Simultaneously a stunning achievement, and depressingly complacent.