Mont-Martyred: Assassin’s Creed – Unity

Today, I give thanks that there is yet another trailer for Assassin’s Creed: Unity crouching in a corner of my inbox, hidden hype-blades snarling somewhere within. I’m genuinely grateful for this one because it manages to contain all of the reasons I’m excited about a new Assassin’s Creed alongside most of the reasons that I’ll probably stop playing after an hour or two. The good stuff first – Ubisoft’s gargantuan CreedCrafting studios make big budget pop culture history that I’m always delighted to explore. The bad is the cloaked figure leaping from a rooftop, doing the same old things in another city, in another time. Following, jumping, stabbing, killing. Where’s the mystery?

I love the cities of Assassin’s Creed and I want to be a tourist in them. The data about locations that acts as a form of collectible already provides a basic framework for sightseeing and how I’d love to see that aspect of the games fleshed out. The distracting future-bollocks could even keep its place – the Animus used as a sort of Total Recall vacation machine for those bored of the cyberpunk future. Fancy escaping Neo New York? Take a mind-trip to 18th century Paris and bring back some holiday snaps to bore the relatives with.

Yes, of course, I’m hankering for a walking simulator of sorts built within the historical spaces of Assassin’s Creed. That’s how I play the games anyway. I’ve managed to play three of the blighters for many an hour without discovering anything about the plot at all. Something about Dan Brown wearing a time-travelling sentient hoodie, I believe.

Imagine if some of the time and resources that went into developing the extraordinary technology behind exclusive speedy pants and ‘walking very slowly behind somebody’ missions went into expanding the options for sightseers though? These would be some of the finest digital worlds ever created.

47 Comments

  1. Gap Gen says:

    Yeah, I don’t have much interest in stabbing people but I really want to run across the rooftops of these places they’ve created.

    • mouton says:

      Sadly, rooftops are often patrolled by some hapless guards who need to be stabbed in order to continue sightseeing. Thankfully, from Brotherhood up you can just have your underlings remove the offender from your roof with one press of a button.It’s almost like being a tourist in a cash-hungry police state, where your security-services minders remove unsavory locals from your Western view.

      • BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

        That’s one of my gripes with the AC franchise. It puts a lot of emphasis on free-running then discourages you from putting it to use with patrolling guards scattered all over the rooftops.

        • Gap Gen says:

          I mean it’s true that in Paris half the police force are stomping around on the roofs in case a guy with a knife for a finger wants to go sightseeing. It gets quite noisy at night if you’re on the top floor.

          • mouton says:

            It reminds me of that article of AssCreed not being critically relevant anymore. They seem not to touch the game systems at all, even if they suck. Okay, I am still at AssRev, but that’s my impression.

          • Mahmoth says:

            Apparently they’ve heavily cut down on rooftop guards this time round, probably because the roofs are much higher than the two-storey things from previous games.

  2. mouton says:

    Yeah, the plot is often quite cringe-worthy and eye-rolly. Still, I do get through it, as it also takes me to some cool locations now and then. Cutscenes are skippable!

  3. Chuckleluck says:

    You know if they removed the stabbing parts the majority of gamers wouldn’t care about AC. Still, throw in an Oculus Rift and you would have a virtual tourism game of sorts. I’ve always maintained that AC is one of the greatest series to get people excited about history (convoluted as the plot is) since Age of Empires.

    • toxic avenger says:

      Really? Not Civilization? Europa Universalis and its brothers and sisters over at Paradox? (Like it or not) the old Medal of Honor games?

  4. int says:

    I want a really cool French weapon like a fossilized baguette, sharpened thrown pommes frites or a portable guillotine.

  5. Dunderbar says:

    As much as I am tired of AC, particularly after 3 and its infinite tutorial, I do absolutely adore the cities and worlds it creates, and the attention to detail they put into it. The French revolution is a period I find endlessly fascinating, so I will probably pick this game up when it comes out, if only to walk around the streets of Paris in revolution.

    Vive la France! Vive la Revolution!

  6. Serenegoose says:

    I’m conflicted. As much as I feel done with the series, having played (I think) all of them, there’s not really a wealth of options for alternatives. I want to run across the rooftops of revolutionary paris, but I no longer think the people I’ll meet and the nonsense I’ll encounter along the way hold much allure.

    And yet I say that, and I was actually pleasantly surprised by a lot of the characterisation in AC4. Despite knowing that, I can’t get excited though. It’s not there any more.

    • suibhne says:

      So much this. I enjoyed AC4 immensely through about the 30-hour mark, by which point I’d thoroughly explored the gameworld and the characters. Everything after that mark has been spooling out endless, barely-differentiated versions of the same old AC-style gameplay. Now I’m at the 50-hour mark, 80% of the way through the main story, and I can hardly stomach the thought of continuing – even tho I think the gameworld and its cast are actually pretty great.

      At least I’ll feel no motivation to pick up Unity till it’s on steep sale.

  7. hypercrisis says:

    Hopefully setting the game on Ubisoft’s home turf of France will see the game play a little more daring with history, the past couple games felt like they were playing it very safe thematically.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      The cross-dressing pirate becoming a parent in a same-sex relationship in the 17th century Caribbean wasn’t daring enough for you, thematically?

      • P.Funk says:

        I dunno if same-sex anything is daring anymore. Its become pretty mainstream. When the annual pride parade makes your local news every year perhaps its time to retire same sex and cross dressing from the “oh my” category. Frankly once it becomes a feature of a mainstream franchise its basically proven to not be controversial.

        Interestingly enough all the male buggery in the world isn’t nearly as controversial as misunderstood concepts like Socialism or Anarchism. I guess that would be daring. But that would be political, like actual political, and I don’t trust a game company to handle politics without making a joke of it.

  8. Jimbo says:

    Not French enough.

    link to youdubber.com

  9. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    If cheerful piano music started playing when you go freerunning then I’d be totally okay with that. And a city with some verticality definitely appeals.

    Whether I get this or not will basically come down to whether there are compulsory trailing/evesdropping missions in this, having given up on the story of Black Flag after reaching yet another goddamn bastard trailing mission. The black box mission design (or whatever it was called) makes me hopeful, but they’ll probably sneak some in because if they haven’t worked out that those missions are rubbish by now they’re probably not going to.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      after reaching yet another goddamn bastard trailing mission

      I am having the exact same experience with Black Flag right now. What is it with Ubisoft that they keep jamming these incredibly restrictive instafail missions into an open world whose systems work so well at improvisation? It’s madness.

      This is the main reason I’m mostly just sailing around and exploring, rarely bothering with the main missions anymore.

  10. PopeRatzo says:

    doing the same old things in another city

    If you really enjoy those things, does it matter if they are the same?

    I would be overjoyed if more companies made games where I could do “the same old things” that I did in my favorite games, except in a new environment.

    When I think of the games that tend to be extra popular around here, it seems like a lot of them are exactly that. But we are expected to complain about ACUnity because, hey, it’s Ubisoft and they’re not a scrappy indie studio kickstarting some game that will never be finished. I get the whole quixotic thing, but geez, Black Flag in France sounds like an amazing amount of fun.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      That’s a very fair comment and I’m being unfair to Black Flag, which did add enjoyable activities and tweaks to the formula.

      • Blackcompany says:

        The problem with Ubisoft’s game – and lets be honest, at is core, they only make game about clearing map markers and taking checkpoints – is an identity crisis. The game does not know what it wants to be. Part free roaming adventure and part linear, scripted set piece – part Fallout and part CoD – it ends up feeling very forced. Very contrived. Ubisoft needs to decide which game they want to make.

        A huge, open world? A big, bad dude/group to take down? Numerous clues as to how to get to them? Underlings of varying ranks in the way?

        Great. Give me all these things, and some tools – parkour, weapons and merchants – turn me loose, and LEAVE ME ALONE. Let me figure out who is who and how best to get to each target. Let me piece together the story on my own. Let me find my own path through this maze of clues and enemies. And most of all, let me fail to take down a target, have them go into hiding, change their routine or double their guard, and still continue with the game. Let me live with the consequences of creating my own, personalized narrative.

        But Ubi wont do this. Either because they dont know how or more likely because they lack the courage. They mistakenly think we play their games for their (mostly terrible) narrative, when in fact the truth could be more different.

        Turn me loose in these worlds. Let me roam. Let me play. Challenge me to discover my own path. Then I will purchase another Ubi game. And not until then.

        • woodsey says:

          They are massively hyping that angle this time around – fail-states (beyond death, pretty much) are supposedly gone.

          Fuck up a tailing mission and it’ll become a chase or a fight, not a reload.

    • Chuckleluck says:

      “I would be overjoyed if more companies made games where I could do “the same old things” that I did in my favorite games, except in a new environment.”

      I agree wholeheartedly. A new environment, for me, is almost as good as a whole new game. That might be why I’m such a sucker for Battlefield DLC.

    • toxic avenger says:

      No, you’re absolutely right. I think, for myself at least, “the same old things” either are stupidly simple, or bore me very quickly. In total fairness, I get the same feeling with every iteration of GTA, and like Assassin’s Creed, I end up buying (most) of the games each time expecting something else, or at least something deeper. There are only so many ways you can disguise “go here and kill these guys with a stab or shooty, then run/drive away without being caught.”

    • Geebs says:

      I’d like to play the game everybody thought the first one was going to be – a slightly stabbier take on medieval stealth, where you had to get to your target unseen, take care of business and then run away parkour style and lose yourself in the open world.

      I still haven’t really forgiven Ubi for the first time somebody tried to pull me over for cantering.

      • tobecooper says:

        Every major assassination in the first one went like this for me. I think only in AC1 you can stealthily get to the target, murder him, and then parkour your way out of the whole chaos. This is why I loved it so much. Though admittedly these cool moments are buried deep under repetitive and mundane ‘rest’ of the game.

  11. racccoon says:

    This is just a repeat of a repeat. Move on for christ sake & make another game.

  12. 9of9 says:

    Dat music tho.

  13. malkav11 says:

    I’ve read that Unity is supposed to make some pretty substantial changes to the formula, actually. We’ll see how that pans out, of course. Obligatory note that some of us really like the sci-fi bits, also. And I’m wondering if the PC will see a port of the other AC game currently in development – a Black Flag followup that’s only being talked about in relation to PS3 and 360 (it’ll be what they get instead of Unity, but it’s an entirely separate game, so I feel like we should get both that and Unity. I have no desire to play any game on console anymore.)

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      I have no source for that, but common sense tells me that the previous-gen game (Rogue) is going to be released on PC (and maybe the next-gen consoles as well) about three to six months later. Releasing it at the same time would unnecessarily cannibalise their PC sales of Unity. They’ll call it an “HD upgrade” and the “definitive version”, and everyone will be happy*.

      *Actual happiness may vary.

  14. Kleppy says:

    Yeah I don’t know. I couldn’t stomach more than roughly 20 hours of both AC3 and AC4. There’s only so many times a mission can inform you to “tail” someone, after which you naturally need to “eavesdrop” on a conversation while staying hidden. Also, the plot is an incoherent mess, so the only appeal of the game is climbing on rooftops, which I had had enough of back in AC2.

  15. blastaz says:

    I think ac always gets a bit of a bad rep. Sure it’s an annual franchise but it doesn’t fall into many of the pitfalls that most of the others do.

    Scowly Caucasian bro dudes:Of the six heroes only two have been European and (admittedly just one) was a girl.

    Same old setting: pretty much every game reinvents itself with a new world and hero. Only revelations really felt like the series was lingering for too long in one time and place. And the world building and sense of historical place is generally a constant joy.

    Same old mechanics: it’s weakest feature. However when compared to cod or FIFA it still does pretty well. The last game took a series made famous by climbing church towers and set it on a pirate ship in the Caribbean… Introducing a huge slew of new mechanics. Often the series has floundered when it tried to do too much new that was incidental to the main game play: the tower defence of rev or the crafting of ac3 for example. Sure the fighting has stayed the same since brotherhood and eavesdropping and tailing and stealth fail states have served their time but they are gone for unity! The game isn’t afraid of listening to criticism.

    Frankly I think ac is a fantastic example of an annual series that actually takes huge risks and evolves as much as it iterates. It should really get more respect for this, but I am a massive fanboy so what do I know?

    As for rogue I imagine there will be a pc and current gen edition just before Xmas or maybe in January. They just don’t want to cause confusion by releasing two games on the same platform at once.

    • Jad says:

      I’ve only played the first two AC games, but the series still gets massive respect from me for not being set in 1) Tolkien Fantasy World, 2) Star Wars Space World, or 3) Middle Eastern Desert Battlefield World.

      • mouton says:

        Yes, the setting is AC series greatest advantage. I would never play it so much if instead of Venice, Florence, Rome, Istanbul I was place in Generic Fantasy City 1, 2, 3, 4