The Next Few Hours: Assassin’s Creed Unity

I can’t be the only one who’s having difficulty facing tomorrow’s very difficult decision of what to play first, right?

On the one hand, Dragon Age Inquisition sounds like it’s the Game of the Year; according to Rock Paper Shotgun you “could probably spend thirty hours on the first major region alone and it wouldn’t be time wasted”.  And when it comes to Bioware RPGs, I like to dive very deep.

On the other hand, I’m kind of in the mood for Far Cry 4 right now, given that I’m already playing Assassin’s Creed Unity and I’m already in the sort of accepting state of mind that requires dealing with Ubisoft’s open-world design strategy.

And on the other other hand, I really want to mess around with the GTA V first-person mode.  I don’t know that I need (or even want) to play the entire game again… but first-person mode looks amazing, and the game itself somehow looks even better than it did on the 360, and online heists are coming, and there’s enough new stuff for returning players (including that L.A. Noire-esque murder mystery mission) that makes me a lot more excited than I thought I’d be.

And yet… I’m also kinda sorta starting to have a good time in Assassin’s Creed Unity.  For real.  The game’s gotten at least 2 patches since I started playing, and despite some occasional frame-rate jankiness here and there and some ridiculously long loading times, I can’t honestly complain about the game’s performance.

I can still complain about the obtrusive UI, though.

I can still complain about the obtrusive UI, though.

The biggest problem I’m having with the game right now is that even though you technically don’t need to do all the side mission stuff that’s scattered literally everywhere you look, you more or less have to if you want to afford the gear and skills you need that make the game’s difficulty manageable.  That being said, the game does an incredibly poor job of articulating how you can earn the 4 different types of currency you need in order to buy all this stuff.  If you want to farm skill points… I don’t know the answer to that question, actually; I just know that every once in a while I’ll get a message in the middle of my screen telling me I have unused skill points that I should probably cash in.  If you want to farm hack points… again, I have no idea how or why, and I don’t know what the difference is between hacking an upgrade and purchasing an upgrade, except that I’m almost always short of both types of currency.

These side missions aren’t terribly interesting, nor are they much different from what the main story tasks me with doing, which is why I’ve been trying to avoid dealing with them.  And yet I’ll still run off the beaten path to unlock chests and find cockades and other such collectible doodads, because (again) they’re there, and they’re self-explanatory, and the rewards are generally worth the investment.

The main story is… eh?  I haven’t found it as bland and forgettable as other people have, though I’d be hard-pressed to remember anybody’s name.  It is weird to be surrounded by people speaking English in British accents in the middle of the French Revolution, but at least it’s more intelligible than French people trying to speak English.

Eh, I can nitpick here and there all day; even with the patches the game’s still got significant technical problems, the controls still have a tendency to do the opposite of what I’m trying to do, etc.  But I’m 6-7 hours into it now (I think I’m at the beginning of Sequence 7), and despite my better intentions (or perhaps because I was weakened by a pretty terrible headcold all weekend), I’ve become very much in sync with the game’s rhythms.  When Assassin’s Creed games are at their best, they are riveting and engrossing; and the simple truth is that Unity can, every once in a while, achieve that sort of state for me.  It looks gorgeous, the Cafe Theatre makes for a pretty terrific home base, and when I feel inclined to just head off in a particular direction and mess around, it’s remarkably easy to get pleasantly lost within the world.  And to be honest, there might be a part of me that’ll be reluctant to put it down tomorrow; I may very well end up hanging on to it.



Categories: the first few hours, weekend recap

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