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View Full Version : Assassin Creed: Unity review from an experienced PC gamer and fan of the series



wkftherockubi
01-29-2015, 08:49 PM
Hi everyone, I do not usually write reviews, but I feel like sharing my impression of this game after playing it for several weeks. Ive been using a computer to game since the 90's and I played every Assassin's Creed game to date. I hope this can serve as a feedback to Ubisoft or any other potential buyers. My English is not perfect but I hope you enjoy!


Test System:

To keep everytthing in perspective (specially for performance and graphics), here are the specs of my gaming machine:

OS: Windows 7
CPU: Intel i7-4930k 4ghz
GPU: EVGA GTX 780ti (Superclocked) 3GB
Drive: Samsung 840 PRO 500 GB SSD
RAM : 16GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 2133 mhz
Monitor : ASUS VG248QE 144Hz 1ms (GTG) LED Backlight LCD

I consider this rig to be somewhat High-end. The only thing that could be upgraded for a better result woud be the amount of Video Ram on the GPU.


Performance (7/10)

I'll start by saying that, on a personnel level, Performance, for me, is almost more important than graphics. For me , I cant enjoy the nice graphics if the game runs like harse.. So the choice of in-game settings I am running is based on the objective of maintaining 60 fps at all time:

Resolution: 1080p
Refresh rate: 144hz
Fullscreen
Vsync: off
Enviroment : Ultra High
Textures: High
Shadows : High
Ambient Occlusion: HBAO+
AA: FXAA
Bloom: on

So as you can see, those are the settings I found to be the most balanced for performane to graphic ratio. The most demanding setting I found is by far the AA and then shadows. Any other type of AA beside FXAA will have a HUGE impact of performance. Using my favorite type of AA, TXAA, would drop my FPS from 60-80 down to below 35.

I feel the option menu could be better. It lacks details on each options indicating how much VRAM your using and it also lack different level of TXAA (2x,4x) like Black Flag had.

Using HIGH or ULTRA HIGH textures settings seems to have an impact on stutering due to the amount of VRAM used. The problem is that it dosent seems to have a really big impact on graphics. More on that in the graphic section.

On average, the performance is ok-ish at most. Yes I am able to maintaning an acceptable framerate (60+) at all time, but the game seems to still suffer (after several patchs) from occasional stutering issues. Different areas in game will have very different performance. Performances during the cutsceens is also an issue. The framrate seems to take a big hit. Another example is your "house" Cafe Theatre is a section where performance seems to be struggling quite a bit. Compared to previous AC games, like Black Flag, Unity is a step backwards performance wise. For me, the amount of NPC's or stuff to process for the engine is not worth the impact on performance.


Graphics and art design (7/10)

Like I said graphics for me are fairly tied to the performance. The graphics here are a mixed bag. Let me start by the bad.

So the most dessapointing thing for me here are the pop-in's and textures loading issues. Yes those are strongly related to performance and to the game engine, but in the end, it is a visual impact. The draw distance in this game is good on building, but terrible on NPC. For the building, there is not a CRAZY amount of fog to hide everything in the distance so its a good thing, but the texture on those building will ofter be very, very low. So yeah you see alot of building but teh LOD (Level of detail) can be terrible. and this issue seems to be inconsistant. Some time the textures will load in a ok-ish manner, some other time its terrible. But most of the time, the textures, even up close, are somewhat dessapointing. This is very noticible during cutseen or when you look your character upclose. Setting textures to high or Ultra High made some difference for the visuals, but not THAT much. Textures could be better on the weapons and characters.

Same thing applys to NPC. No only will you have NPC poping almost in your face, but those you allready see will change their LOD so drasticly as you approach that it becomes very distracting and really breaks the immersion. Some times the NPC will just have their cloths be more detailed as you approach (the way its suppoed to be) but most of the time those NPC will COMPLETLY change clothing. And add to that the fact that many object or NPC will just pop out of no where when you are running, you end up with something very, very average.

The huge crowds that are in the Streets of Paris are a nice thing, but again the cost of that (or the way the game engine handles it) end ups having more negative effect that positive efffect. The amuont of NPC could be cut in half and it would be fine for me. Some times the amount of people in the Streets is almost rediculous.

There are some others graphical glitches, like AI paths but nothing THAT bad. Note that if you are a SLI user, please read the other discussion on the subject as you migh have some more serious issues.

Now for the good.

Well the art team really nailed this one. The streets of Paris and the building are very, very nice. The ligntning effects are very impressive when you go in or out of a building and you have the sun blinding you, or the sun coming out of the fog. The environnement are for the most parts very nice and a step foward from the previous AC games (not without its impact on performance..) The NPC's really bring life to the city by the way they act and reacts to your actions. The atmosphere is pretty nice too. I visited Paris and to see those buildings so accuratly represented is outstanding. The attention to détails is very obvious and it shows that some people worked really hard.


Gameplay

For this section I will break it down in smaller peices.


Story and historical setting 6/10


The time period here is pretty good and is certainly refreshing and interesting. But the story itself is average. I like the way the main missions are a build up from one another on the hunt to the main "bad guy", and some of the NPC's you meet are intersting. I like how the main mission where you assassinate a target are made. Its a bit like HITMAN. You have alot of freedom and way to approach your targets with even some unique kills. There could have been more of those unique kills scenarios tho. Only 2 or 3 on the whole lot. I hope Ubisoft continue on this path.

On the other hand, most of the story is based on a personnel vendetta that did not really appealed to me. Some of the sequences were rather dull, and even if the setting is interesting, in the end it sometimes feel that your are often in (or on top) of the same kind of building, looking for a window to get in our out. The ending is also very average and not very satisfying.

Mouvement and parcour mechanics (9/10)

Not much to say besides its an improvement. Your character can now go down building way easier without the need of a damn hay stack. Arno will easily climb or go down anything you throw at him, The only problem you might have sometimes is trying to go Inside a building/window where you character will want to climb the wall instead of going Inside.


Combat mechanics (7/10)


So one of the bigger change is the combat. No more (or at least a bit less) of "I am a combat god mode" from previous AC game where you only had to "block to win". At first I was not really hyped with the mechanics, but after a while I started to like it. I cant say I like it MORE than the previous game, but its ok.

Basically there is no more automatic counter-kill everytime you block. You have a strong and light attack combined to a "Knock down/staggering" strike. On the defensive side, you have a parry and dodge mechanics. Those certainly bring more of a challenge during fights. But in the end the combat mechanics could have stayed the same and the game would have been just as good for me. I personnaly liked to feel a bad ♥♥♥. The "finishers" are ok, but not a significant improvement or more satisfying than previous game. The fact that you can't use your hidden blade or fists in combat limits the amount of finishers.

Beside melee attacks, your character will also have acces to a variety ranged attacks your are used to see in other AC game. If you compared it to AC4 Black Flag, your blow pipe is basically in your hidden blade now.

One of my biggest complaint is the COMPLETE lack of hand to hand combat and the choice of using your hidden blade to fight as primary weapon. Compared to previous AC, where you could just be a bad ♥♥♥ with your hidden blade to block and fight enemy EZIO STYLE IN REVELATION OPENING CINEMATIC, now you cant select your hidden blade or fists to be your primary weapon in Unity. Your primary weapon is only whatever you carry and your hidden blade kills will only activate under certain conditions. And also why no dual hidden blade? whats up with that Ubisoft? give me back my dual hidden blade in Victory! The disarm feature was also taken out of the game. I want back the ability to to kick some face with my knees and fist like in the previous AC games! I want to be able to walk empty handed, block and disarm a guy before killing him with his own weapon and then drop it and walk away like a bad ♥♥♥!

The AI overall is OK in combat. they are aggresive and will use ranged weapon on you as they gang up on you. As in every AC game, one time you will find yourself in a situation where the AI will not detect you as it clearly should, but in my experience it was not game breaking.

The new stealth mechanic can be resumed to crouching. This mechanic, for me, barely played any role in the game. Not that I didnt use stealth at all, but the crouching was never really necessesary as you will use crowd, hiding spot, or cover to hide and be stealthy. Its important to note that the game rarely force you to use stealth.Even killing people from behind can be done by walking to them. Yes they will start noticing a bit (showed by the yellow meter over their head) but by the time your killing them, they are still not attacking you. I think the only time I had to use it was to steal something on an NPC due to mission parameters. And even then, most of the time you can just kill that NPC and loot the body. So the stealth system for me dosnt have a positive or negative impact on the game. Its still basically the same system as before where you will use cover, hiding spot and crowds most of the time. One thing to note is that being detected and having a guard raising the alarms will bring alot of heat on you. So going in rambo style will get you killed if your not well equiped and/or experienced with the new combat mechanics.

But as usual, a small smoke bomb will allow you to run away from most encounter.


Character and hub/house customization 9/10


The Cafe Theatre serve as a base of operation for you. It gathers money and trophys from different activity and that is verry awesome. I like that kind of features. You have an awesome display room for you legacy outfit and a training room that is rather obsolete. The place is breathing life and a very big plus to the game.

The other big plus is the way you can FINALLY customize your character with different peices of armors and weapon. Finally you can buy and unlock different peices for your chest, head, belt and pants with different stats. ON top of that you can even change the colors. And if your thing is to run in Paris dressed as Ezio or Connor, no worry because you have plenty of outfit to choose from that will "hide/cover" any peice of armor your are weaing. Wheter you want to dress as Kenway in AC4 and ARRRRG your way to Notre-Dame, or just hide your ugly newbie peices of armor, there is something for everyone here. Each peice of armor has some stats and différents bonus on combat and taht is very awesome. We want more of that.

Same goes for the weapons. you have a nice selection of 1 handed, long or heavy melee weapons to choose from. With each categories having its own animation. For our gun loving people you got to choose from a selection of pistol or rifles.

Each of those thing have the possibility to be upgraded 1 time with a currency cumulated as experience for certain type of actions you do.

You also have acces to a variety of skills you can purchase with another type of currency you gather by doing the main missions and other side activitys. This is ok but is means you will have to wait and chooses between certain ability that, in my opinion, should be given to you at the starts of the game..but its not a big issue...

One thing they could do to improve this system for Victory (I hope they keep it) is to go a bit more in depth with the stats of your character besides just BASICS SKILLS or adding more health cube..the stats on the equipement is nice but you could give it a bit more RPG style. For the equipement part, the only thing I would like to see is the ability to remove completly your pistol from your back. Some people might not like the big holster on your back and it looks weird on some outfit. the pistol is useful in combat but for people that want to Role play the game or replay certain mission when your fully upgraded with high-end gear, the pistol is not necessary. At the moment, if you dont like it you have to start a new game and not buy any pistol. That way the holster will never show up I guess.


Side activities (9/10)


Like previous game, there is alot to do here. But the side activities are somewhat more interesting here. No more board game ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥. All side mission are somewhat related to NPC you met during main mission and make them feel as they are important and interesting. You have acces to a series of Paris stoy mission that are your typical kind of mission and also a series of Murder investigation that are refreshing and very interesting.
On top of that you have your typical amount of collectibles that are scattered all over the map, some having more interesting reward than other (money, new colors scheme for armors, outfits,..)

All in all there is plenty of content here to keep you going if you are someone that want 100% sync. And this content, without even talking about the coop side, is plenty here. Even if it can get repetitive to a certain point, I found the activities interesting and worth most of your time.


Coop missions (9/10)

This is also one of the big new feature. You can finnaly tackles a series of new (and sometimes challenging) series of mission in Paris with up to 4 of your friends. Those missions are nice and can be done in solo if you want to. All in all another nice addition of content that reward players for working together with bonus experience and equipement to unlock.

Club competition (5/10)

This is a new feature aswell that allows you to create you own club and invite people in. Basically a clan. People can also randomly search for club and send application based or certain preferences. Being part of a club can reward you with some trophys is an area of your Cafe Theatre and moslty allows you to participate in each week club competition where each week clubs are regrouped in bunch a of 6 clubs to compete against each other for the maximum of point cumulated. Point are cumulated for doing certain actions and each week you can obtain bonus point for completing specific actions or missions. Each week the club competitoin reward the best club within the group of 6 with a specific peice of equipement that cant be uptained with any other means. And for the most part those are high-end gear that you will want for the stats or look.

The problem with this systems is that this is becoming a grind fest and that only the best club receives the equipement. At this rate, even if your club wins every competitoin, it will take you months and month to unlock every equipement gated by the club competition reward system. On top of that you have players using exploit and bug to farm points and such.

At its roots the idea is good but it is poorly executed from my point of view.


And this ladies and gentleman concludes my review. In the end I think this game is a good AC game, but it could have been even more better if the performance and engine worked correctly. Even on my PS4 this game runs far from 30 fps. Of corse all of this is based on my personnal experience and preference, but you get the idea. If you'r gaming rig is average and that performance is important for you (60 fps+) you might be desapointed and find it hard to proprely enjoy the game. Don't think you will run this "fine" just because you can run Crysis 3 or Battlefield 4...this game really suffer optimization wise. If you pay attention to the recommended in-game setting on the NVIDIA site for exemple, they are all based on a performance of 40 fps...and the recommended PC specs for this game will not grant you a smooth experience according to many other reviews.

But if you got a good gaming rig, I suggest you buy it, but buy it when Steams put it on sale. I hope that the next AC game Victory will build up on this and make a proper PC port. Thanks to all the crew at Ubisoft that spent all those hours on this. We hope to see a more polished product in october 2015. And if its not ready, we will wait t'ill you guys think its ready :). I am also really looking foward to AC Rogue to come out for PC. The story there and characters looks very interesting from what I have seens and I think every AC fans should be looking at this game.

DELTA Kristian
01-29-2015, 10:38 PM
As for performance - all maxed except AA and vsync - 4 gb do provide nice frames!

tcarlisle2012
01-29-2015, 11:35 PM
Very nice write-up and well thought out review! I had never played any of the previous AC games, because for some reason the game concept didn't appeal to me. Honestly, I only bought it because of all the news about bugs and such at the time of release, and then I saw it on Steam heavily discounted and figured I'd buy it to check it out.I didn't even install it until after Christmas because it was for my Son, and it installed as version 1.4 so I never got to see the initial bugs and problems.

I was extremely surprised to find it working, given all the noise and complaints that even patch 4 did nothing and for some made it worse. I bought another copy (from one of the now infamous gray market retailers which eventually got banned) so I could try out multiplayer with my Son.

I've never had ACU.exe crash, or freeze, etc. on my PC except during a period when my case fans had come unplugged. Hasn't crashed since. It has crashed once on my Son's PC, but he has had it happen several times that his character gets stuck in a wall and he can't get out.

I have seen my share of objects suspended in mid air, NPCs walking through stuff, stuck in walls, etc.

What I would like to see improved upon is the licensing model. Should not have to pay another $60 for another household member to play on the same PC, and shouldn't have to share the character & progress or devise a way to hack the game saves to simulate separate profiles.

Also, you don't have to play this game too long to realize there are about 10 unique blue/red enemy characters, replicated many, many times throughout the game... over and over again.

Lastly, the open world aspect of the game could be improved. Once the missions are completed, there isn't too much to do and this will hurt replay value. However, this might be part of corporate strategy with Ubisoft planning to keep churning out DLC's for additional revenue and return on the investment in the engine and base game.

Fatal-Feit
01-30-2015, 01:34 AM
Excellent in-depth review.

Green_Reaper
01-30-2015, 03:52 AM
Pretty solid review. I would have given the same score for most of those, with pretty much the same reasons.

I do want a lot more for the Cafe though. It's not a 9/10 for me, I give it a 8.5/10. Maybe a 8. If I could change it, I would add a feature which allows you to post messages or announcements on some sort of club-exclusive bulletin board. That way leaders can communicate with the club and vice versa. They should expand on "upgrading" your cafe by giving you the option to customize it visually as well - maybe you could change certain embellishments or room colors/themes. Also, it's probably not totally necessary, but I would remove the limit to the amount of income you collect, or at least increase it to 100k.

Lastly I would love for there to be an area where you can engage in mini games with club members or co-op players. Something like tag(chase) or parkour-races from one district to another. All AC games had a mission where you had to beat someone to a certain location or at least keep up with them to complete an objective. I wonder if they could incorporate something that into these "mini-games".


Side activities get 6/10. Everything about them is good until you get to the collectibles. They need to get rid of the need for a tablet app to unlock those chests and other additional content - it's a bad idea. Also, Helix Credits. Bad idea as well - people shouldn't have to be charged if they want to unlock all cockades/paris story/murder mystery locations. You could get all your collectibles in past games without having to pay anything. I know by default players get a decent amount of Helix Credits, but still - this feels like a horrible method of micro transaction.