Condemn O.R Condone – Assassin’s Creed Unity (PlayStation 4)

Assassin’s Creed’s first foray into next gen is a bit of a step backwards for the series, but there’ still some fun to be had if you can avoid the bugs.

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed train has been chugging along for years now, bringing open-world stealth action to millions of gamers over several different main entries and spin-offs. Even though the series has been annualized, the developers have managed to keep things relatively fresh with focuses on different historical eras and accompanying mechanics. Last year’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag brought the first major gameplay shift as we went from the confined city streets to the open sea. This was a fantastic change of pace and showed that the devs were willing to take risks to keep things fresh, rather than sticking with the same old formula.

Which is what makes the sequel, Assassin’s Creed Unity, feel a bit stale as the first next-gen exclusive title is now back in the city with no open seas or other types of terrain in sight. This is very familiar territory for the series, so what is it that’s being brought to the table to spice things up?

Well, this time around the big new addition is co-op, as you and 3 other players have the ability to join up for specific co-op missions and work together to assassinate a target or steal a specific item and escape. It’s cool enough on paper, though there really isn’t anything about it that is noteworthy. There are certain moves that you can pull off with the help of an ally, but for the most part the game remains the same. As a result, the co-op ends up feeling like a secondary feature rather than a major new component that really moves the series forward. This is definitely a nice feature to have and is a nice little diversion every now and then, but it’s not enough to really be a selling point.

As is always the case, Unity adapts a famous historical era for you to dive into and explore, with this game focusing on the French Revolution in the 18th century. Once again the Assassins and the Templars are at odds, which leads to our hero Arno’s father being killed and results in him joining up with the Assassins for revenge. Although it’s all pretty predictable, Arno and the supporting cast are pretty well done and do enough to make you care about what is happening in the plot. There is definitely some similarities to Assassin’s Creed II, but considering that is the best game in the series you’ll find no complaints from me on that front. Big props need to be given to Arno’s romantic interest, Elise, who was very well-written and ends up being one of the best characters the series has seen in years.

Once you are thrust full-force into Paris you will notice that it is much more dense than previous entries in the series. There are many more people roaming the streets, with some of the crowds you witness tallying in the hundreds. The actual design of the world is gorgeous, as all of the various buildings and landmarks that you will come across all look great. The next-gen software is really being put to work here, as there is more happening on screen than ever before and the amount of detail and clarity is definitely a new high point. There are countless amounts of collectibles for you unlock, areas to explore, side quests to check out and many more things that can add up to a lot of hours outside of the main story.

There is of course a modern part of the story, as it is revealed that you are yet another new employee for Abstergo Entertainment that is being virtually sent back in time to gather information. This part of the story is even less prevalent and scattered than in previous entries in the series, and just feels more like the devs are shoehorning it in for continuity’s sake. It certainly doesn’t add anything to the story, and makes me wish that they would just ditch this whole aspect of the series altogether. The main attraction is what is going on in the past-era and not the modern one, as the past-era is getting 99% of the running time.

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However, there are a few bits where you are actually dealing with ramifications of the technology of Abstergo, which result in you ending up in a few different eras where you must find the exit point before you’re desychronized. While these moments don’t really have much to do with the modern characters or era, the locations that they transport you to are great and have a sense of urgency to them that much of the main game lacks. I won’t spoil too much, but if you were ever wondering what it would be like to scale the Eiffel Tower this game will give you the opportunity to find that out for yourself.

Where Unity is really lagging behind is in its mechanics. The machinery of what this series has been running on for almost a decade now is really starting to creak, as many of the problems that have plagued the series’ past are getting more and more noticeable. While the game adds some new bells and whistles in an attempt to make obstacle maneuvers more swift, there are still many times when you will be committing jumps or climbs that you didn’t intend to. Sometimes this is forgivable, but when you’re in a situation where you need to get somewhere fast or are fleeing from enemies it can get extremely aggravating.

The actual battle mechanics are very similar to what has come before, as well, as you rhythmically take on a small group of enemies with parrying and attacking or all-out fleeing if you end up attracting a crowd. It still works well enough, but at this point in the series it gets really repetitive and doesn’t incorporate anything new to make it really fun. The stealth side of the gameplay is also untouched, as you stalk enemies from behind, below or above and then strike at the opportune moment for the kill. This aspect is much more forgivable as I still feel that this series really pulls off stealth gameplay and it’s still extremely satisfying to take down baddies from the shadows. I also liked how the game offers more than one method for taking down a specific targets, allowing you to assess the situation and choose which method suits your style of play the best.

On the plus side of the mechanics is the fact that Ubisoft has incorporated more RPG-like elements to the fray. As you progress through the game you will essentially be leveling up your character and unlocking new move sets, weapons and armor. This part of the game is surprisingly solid, as there are a lot of different things to be unlocked that allow you to really tailor your character to your liking. You can even customize the weapons and armor that you have purchased, which is great when your current powerful gear is a color you aren’t crazy about. This all gives you a lot of incentive to actually take on the more mundane tasks in the game that you would normally pass up entirely, because you know that you will be regularly getting points that can go towards building your character.

Unfortunately for gamers this time around, Ubisoft released Assassin’s Creed Unity with a host of bugs present that can potentially mess up your experience. While I began my playthrough after a few patches were already released, there were still some really annoying glitches that I encountered throughout the game. For example: there were more than a few situations where I was tailing an enemy I was about to take down, but when the opportunity arose for me to strike I could not attack or even draw my weapon no matter how many times I pressed the button. As you can imagine, this lead to many failed encounters in which I had to start over a few times due to the game’s own bugs. All of this is getting sorted out as we speak, but it still isn’t acceptable and it’s something you’re going to have to be wary of if you plan on purchasing the game anywhere around launch time.

Assassin’s Creed Unity brings the series into next-gen, but unfortunately stumbles along the way. Instead of introducing a big new gameplay mechanic we are instead placed back in a crowded city, which feels like a step backwards for the series. The game introduces a co-op mode to shake things up, but it doesn’t offer enough depth or originality to make me want to return to it regularly. These flaws are all unfortunately exacerbated by the fact that this game released in a bug-riddled state, making even the most routine actions occasionally broken. However, despite its many flaws the game does have an interesting cast and story, and when it’s not suffering from bugs it can be a heck of a lot of fun. This is an Assassin’s Creed game through and through, though this is the point where Ubisoft really needs to start brainstorming big new ideas to keep the series from becoming irrelevant.

RESPECTABLE

Check Out The Free Games Coming To PS Plus In December 2014 Right Here

Sony has come up with a truly impressive list of free games for PS+ subscribers next month.

Sony has revealed the lineup of the free games that will be coming to PlayStation Plus subscribers in December, and its a very impressive list of games. The games range across all of Sony’s current platforms, and will be yours to keep as long as you download them in December and remain an active PS+ subscriber.

Sony posted the following on the PlayStation Blog:

“The weather is getting colder, which means two things: 1) It’s time for delicious food and 2) it’s time to hibernate with video games.”

I completely agree, so without further ado, here are the free games that will be available to PS+ subscribers starting December 2nd:

PlayStation 4

  • Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • Secret Ponchos
  • Titan Attacks!

PlayStation 3

  • Hitman HD Trilogy
  • Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut
  • Titan Attacks!

PlayStation Vita

  • Final Horizon
  • Titan Attacks!

Xbox Games With Gold For December 2014 Revealed

A decent month for Games With Gold.

An OK month for Xbox Live Gold members, as December will be bringing them one free Xbox One game and two free Xbox 360 games. The news was revealed on Major Nelson’s blog right here.

First up is Worms Battlegrounds on Xbox One, which will be available to download for free for the entire month of December. Meanwhile, on Xbox 360 gamers will be able to download The Raven: Legacy of the Master Thief from December 1st to December 15th. The second game that they will be able to download for the second half of the month will be the reboot of SSX.

For those of you who still haven’t jumped on the current Games With Gold offerings, you still have four days to download Volgarr the Viking on Xbox One and Red Faction Guerilla on Xbox 360.

The Steam Fall Sale Has Begun! Check Out The Deals Right Here

More great deals from now until December 2nd.

Every Fall Steam has a sale that offers huge discounts on solid games. This Fall is no different than any of those other Falls, as they have just revealed the first batch of games that will be discounted. More and more games will be revealed from now until December 2nd, so check back daily to see if there is something new that has grabbed your interest!

Although more goodness is certainly on the way, here are some highlights of what is available as of the time of this writing:

  • The Evil Within ($20.39)
  • Watch Dogs ($29.99)
  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter ($11.99)
  • The Stanley Parable ($4.49)
  • FTL: Faster Than Light ($2.99)
  • Dead Island ($4.99)
  • The Wolf Among Us ($8.49)
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us ($4.99)

To see the rest of the games that I didn’t list and for all of the others that will be listed in the future, click right here!

Ubisoft Giving ‘Assassin’s Creed Unity’ Players Free Games After Buggy Lauch

Hooray for free stuff!

When Assassin’s Creed Unity launched recently it gave many gamers a hard time due to its numerous bugs and glitches. This caused the game experience to be annoying for some and damn-near unplayable for others, which has resulted in Ubisoft responding with an offer of free DLC and a free game. Merry Christmas!

First up is the Dead Kings DLC pack, which was set to be featured in the game’s Season Pass that has been cancelled indefinitely. You will be getting this DLC free no matter what, though if you purchased the season pass you are also entitled to one free game from the list of games below:

  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
  • The Crew
  • Far Cry 4
  • Just Dance 2015
  • Rayman Legends
  • Watch Dogs

Ubisoft Montreal’s CEO Yannis Mallat also issued a statement apologizing for the game’s buggy launch:

“Unfortunately, at launch, the overall quality of the game was diminished by bugs and unexpected technical issues. I want to sincerely apologize on behalf of Ubisoft and the entire Assassin’s Creed team. These problems took away from your enjoyment of the game, and kept many of you from experiencing the game at its fullest potential.”

Well, free stuff is usually a good way to get people back on your good side, so good going on delivering the goods!

Here’s The Full Release Road Map For ‘DayZ’

Open-world zombies will be signed, sealed and delivered in the first half of 2016.

The open-world zombie game, DayZ, has been open to the public since December of 2013 through Steam Early Access, though the game is still a ways off from being a finished project. However, the game’s developer, Bohemia Interactive, has gone on record saying that the full version of the game will show up some time in the first half of 2016. As I said, it’s a ways off.

The full version of the game will cost $50, with the Early Access version currently going for $35. The console versions are even further off, though, so there is no pricing plans for those (though they will more than likely be $60).

Bohemia Interactive said the following about DayZ in response to the game selling 2 million copies in Early Access:

“2014 has been an immensely successful year for DayZ. We could have never hoped for so many people to join us for the adventure of Early Access development.”

The following is road map of what the developers plan to add to the game between now and the game’s eventual release in the first half of 2016:

Q1 2015:

  • Basic vehicles
  • Advanced loot distribution
  • New renderer
  • New Zombie AI
  • Basic stealth system (zombies and animals)
  • Diseases

Q2 2015:

  • Advanced vehicles (repair and modifications)
  • Advanced animals (life cycle, group behavior)
  • Player statistics
  • New UI
  • Player stamina
  • Dynamic events

Q3 2015:

  • Traps
  • Barricading
  • Character life span + soft skills
  • Animal predators + birds
  • Aerial transport
  • Console prototype

Q4 2015:

  • Animal companions
  • Steam community integration
  • Construction (base building)

Check Out PSN’s Black Friday Deals Right Here

Some great deals on awesome games right now!

Black Friday is inbound, which means that everyone and their moms are having Black Friday deals. PSN is no exception to that party, as they have just revealed all of the games that will be getting big discounts that focus on co-op games.

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The full list was revealed on the PS Blog, but some of the highlights include Borderlands 2 for $6.49 ($4.54 for PS+ subscribers), Dark Souls II for $27.99 (19.59 for PS+ subscribers) and Far Cry 3 for $13.99 ($9.79 for PS+ subscribers). Check out the full list right here.

These deals range from all 3 of Sony’s current gaming platforms and are available right now, so if any of these games interest you then get shopping!