Over the years, Ubisoft crafted the Assassin's Creed series into something special, starting with the basics and eventually creating stories revolving around piracy, American history, and with the forthcoming Assassin's Creed Unity, the French Revolution. This latest chapter promises to be the biggest one yet, and if the multiplayer impressions we previously posted don't hook you, chances are the single player campaign will.
You portray Arno, a younger assassin working with a group of people deep within the catacombs of France. Granted, this doesn't have to be your only home base, as Arno can also purchase an entertainment club in a nearby village and customize it however he pleases, should the player feel compelled to add décor to the proceedings.
Arno’s primary goal is to turn the tide of the French Revolution in the people's favor, and that means chasing after shadowy targets waist deep in conspiracy. As Arno eventually hunts and kills each intended victim, he gets that much closer to discovering who's behind it all, gathering the memories from whoever he kills.
For Unity, players can customize their loadouts, adding a bit more variety to what their assassins carry. You'll start out with some of the basics, including a rapier for swordplay as well as the traditional hand blade, but eventually you get your hands on much cooler stuff.
The Phantom Blade, for example, is a wicked crossbow-like weapon that attaches to Arno's wrist, enabling him to shoot a variety of darts at his targets, such as Berzerk Darts that can turn an enemy on his allies in a matter of seconds. It's also useful for shooting off firecrackers that can distract people long enough for him to move in for the kill.
In addition, Arno can change his weapons depending on range and power. Along with a handful of swords, he can also use two-handed heavy axes or other weapons better utilized in combat, along with long-range spears that make it easier to strike an enemy from a distance. Some are more powerful than others, but you'll want to make sure you have the right weapon for the job, as Unity features enemies that are much more aggressive, and not so easy to take down with a few simple sword swipes.
With assassination missions, they stay loyal to the series, as you have a number of ways to get the job done. The opening Notre Dame mission is a good example of this, as your target, a ne'er-do-well who happens to carry an axe on him (even going into church), places himself right in the middle of the action. Running in to kill him is completely suicidal, as you're likely to get slaughterd either by the guards standing at the front door, or his private soldiers.
Thankfully, as with previous Assassin missions, you have a number of ways to get into the massive Notre Dame cathedral. There are painted glass doors on the side you can easily get in and out of, or you can take out a pickpocket on the main level, then climb all the way to the top of the cathedral and give it back to a waiting monk, who will let you in for your trouble.
From there, you can try to ambush your target in the open (again, a suicidal move), or take the patient route and wait for him to get closer to a confessional booth. Once there, you can either ambush him in the open, or perhaps the best way, wait for him to get into the booth and then let him have it with a well-placed stab. After his death (and collecting his memories), Arno then has to make his way back out of the church, and the less noticed he is, the better. However, as with getting in, there are various ways out, so you should have no problem escaping.
One huge change to Assassin's Creed Unity is how Arno uses verticality to get around, along with jumping across rooftops and such. Using a new parkour system, he can climb up and down tall objects with ease – a useful technique when you don't have a haystack to jump into.
This new system takes a little getting used to at first, especially with stealth missions where you have to keep an eye on your target without giving yourself away, but there are so many cool options to approaching different situations. Nothing beats a high-dive off a rooftop, only to plunge your hand blade into the skull of a snooty guard.
In addition to the regular missions featured in the game, which keep the story moving along, Unity also has side missions you can complete, such as solving mysteries (like the appearance of a mysterious, loathsome giant) and stopping petty criminals with a tackle, or if you prefer, a well-placed stab. This will earn you some extra money, and maybe even an ally or two when push comes to shove.
Assassin's Creed Unity is a huge, sprawling game thus far, and new parts of the city open up as you complete more missions, giving you a better lay of the land – and more to do. You'll see how immense it is when the game releases on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on November 18th.