Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity
Having done so allowed me to return to the game now, on PS5, and have a mostly fresh experience. With the PS4 disk version of ACU, you can play the game at a near-perfect 60 fps (I had about 20 seconds of sub-60 framerate during my entire play through during one particularly taxing set piece) on PS5. It cannot be overstated how much this drastically improves ACU. Yes, you are playing the game unpatched, but it seems that most of the technical issues the game had are solved by running it on stronger hardware - I only experienced one major bug, where I fell through the map, during my 40 hrs of playtime. Overall, the game becomes much more beautiful and the gameplay much more enjoyable. With its realistic, weighty parkour animations, and relatively small perfect parry windows, ACU is primed to benefit exceptionally from 60fps. Arno can feel a bit slow and weak when you are missing perfect parries and dodge windows at 30fps, but the framerate boost turns fights into wonderfully animated and flashy sequences. Seriously, I was forced to play the Dead Kings DLC in 30fps, and the game was significantly less enjoyable to play. In summary, the framerate boost finally unleashes the technical ambition of Unity that was never fully realized for most players (I imagine the only people who have experienced this are PC players who played the game after it was fully patched, since forum records show the launch PC version had a ton of problems as well). I'm really not exaggerating when I say that ACU has some of the best-looking environments and animations ever. With the game running at 60fps, it looks better than every AC title that followed it and feels like it could have come out many years after it actually did. While looking at the character's faces in cutscenes, crowded city streets, and startlingly detailed interiors, I was constantly reminded of RDR2. I still think RDR2 is the best looking open world game of all-time, but it is shocking how close ACU comes for a game that was released four years prior.
I am not hear to tell you that Unity is a perfect game or anything like that. It certainly has its problems, and enough has been said about them. The side content is not very good and replaying the same co-op mission by myself, three times, to get Arno's trademark Tailored gear felt incredibly tedious and dumb. In fact, in its story, gameplay, and world-building, the whole game feels like a sign or pointer to a true masterpiece of a game rather than actually being that game itself. With that said, considering the technical upgrade brought by modern hardware, in my mind Unity brings the overall best rendition of the fantasy of being an Assassin in a historically rich setting. If you just do the story and Cafe Theatre side missions (to raise your income so you can buy the gear you want and have full access to the stealth gameplay via consumables), I think you will have a great experience. ACU is actually a pretty strong stealth game with the addition of a cover system, crouch-walking, and the way your entire toolkit is always accessible and ripe for combination/experimentation. The implementations have their problems sure, but the series has never had better stealth mechanics than what's found here. It is very sad the game was rushed, as if the game launched in a better state and didn't cause Ubisoft to scale down many of Unity's technical systems in order to reboot the franchise into an ARPG series, I feel the series would be heading in a much more interesting direction.
Ultimately, I am interested in playing games for their strengths, not for their weaknesses. If a game does a few things wrong in the attempt to do something great, then I believe that is a much more worthy endeavor than simply striving to be a mediocre jack of all trades. In other words, the reason why Unity had notable technical issues is because the game was extremely ambitious in many respects, and unfortunately Ubisoft rushed it out on top of that. As I think back on my replay of Unity, I get nostalgic for some of the game's admittedly great story moments, and my general memories of parkouring around the beautiful streets and landmarks of 18th-century Paris. I wish things had turned out better for Arno - I get the sense that the story was written with a sequel in mind, as the game's ending feels like the darker second act of a plot that never gets resolved - but in the end I can only conclude that this is the last Assassin's Creed game to really try and do something great.
TL;DR: Unity on modern hardware revealed a game I wrote off a long time ago to be one of the best Assassin's Creed titles.