Long-time readers will know that I completely adored Ubisoft's Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag. Awarding the swashbuckling pirate adventure top marks, I looked forward to the next entry in the series with great anticipation. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, Assassins Creed Unity takes us to Paris in 1789, during the turbulent French Revolution.
As before, Unity is a third-person action adventure, set in an open world. As a deadly assassin named Arno, you can effortless free-run along the rooftops, stalk and kill your prey, before disappearing into the busy streets. They really are crowded too, as the new Anvil engine allows for up to 5,000 AI characters at one time.
With an in-depth character skill tree, you can not only unlock new abilities and weapons, but also upgrade your attire for various combat, stealth, traversal and health bonuses. If you would like an early advantage, you also have the option to spend real world money to unlock content quicker.
From contract killings to murder mysteries, puzzles, protecting allies or tailing leads, breaking into heavily fortified buildings and escaping unseen, investigating satanic apparitions or giants, solving the Nostradamus enigma, story missions are diverse and plentiful. There are also plenty of side-quests for additional in-game bonuses, as well as treasure to find, locks to pick and rare content to discover. In case that wasn't enough, you can even join up to 3 friends online for fun cooperative missions (albeit with no playable female characters). It's a world that you can get lost and absorbed in for a long time, or focus solely on the main narrative.
Once you own some property, you'll be able to track your progress in greater detail, unlock even more missions, read letters, browse mementos and undertake combat training.
Speaking of which, combat remains largely the same as before, with sword fighting taking up the majority of the action. Hidden blades are at your disposal for stealth kills and a variety of guns for the less subtle assassins. You also can elude the enemy with smoke and cherry bombs, or deploy a coin purse in a crowd to create a distraction. There's always plenty of ways to take out an adversary, and it is enjoyable picking them off like a ninja. Traversal largely works really well, as you jump walls, slide down rooftops and leap seemingly impossible gaps.
Occasionally though, you'll be escaping the enemy and accidentally climb up a random box that you didn't intend to, then have a clumsy moment getting back off it to continue your escape. While the game is certainly a lot more stable than on launch, there is still the occasional crash and collision detection issues to contend with too. Arno has both fallen through the floor and got trapped in the middle of some shrubbery during a murder mystery. But thankfully the issues are few and far between, so won't impact your enjoyment too often.
Visually, Assassins Creed Unity is a treat to behold. From the style of the buildings to the atmosphere of the Parisian streets, the world is an immersive one. The music too is suitably rousing, atmospheric and exciting throughout. Adding more flavour, the crowds will utter various French phrases. The voice talent for the story missions, while great, somewhat ruins the atmosphere though by almost entirely having English accents. But then, it's seemingly the rule in all historical entertainment that everyone sounds British, even if they happen to be Napoleon.
While Assassins Creed Unity is ultimately a content-rich and enjoyable experience, the revolutionary setting doesn't quite live up to the thrills of sailing the seven seas in Black Flag. For fans of the series though, this is another challenging, if familiar adventure that will keep you busy for weeks. Très Bien.