GAME REVIEW: ASSASSIN’S CREED UNITY - DEAD KINGS DLC / DEVELOPER: UBISOFT MONTREAL / PUBLISHER: UBISOFT / PLATFORM: PC, XBOX ONE, PLAYSTATION 4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Of all the releases in this franchise, Assassin’s Creed Unity is by far one of the most controversial. Released in a barely working state, removing the ship combat which had been so popular in its past games and accused of demonising the French Revolution, things were not off to a good start. Sadly the first DLC, Dead Kings, fails to be the hit which fans might have wanted to turn things about for Unity.
Set in the wake of the main campaign’s events, Dead Kings sees events turning away from the capital of France. Still nursing his wounds, the Assassin Arno is still attempting to lay low and lick his wounds after questioning his own organisation, bitterly surviving in a provincial town. Unfortunately Arno’s plans to escape France are soon rudely interrupted…
This is set to be an especially dark chapter in Assassin’s Creed, and every part of that is reflected in the surroundings. The art direction is expectedly inspired, with the grimy streets and decaying architecture being more reminiscent of Innsmouth than the brightly lit streets of Paris. Offering a few stand-out settings, players can traverse through the underground catacombs beneath the town and crumbling ruins upon its edge. While familiar, its atmosphere carries far more impact than Unity’s revolutionary surroundings or the rooftops of Paris. Unfortunately this is really all that Dead Kings truly offers; a new lick of paint with no real push to improve upon the flaws in its mechanics.
There is very little really pushed to add any worthwhile replacement for the missing seaborne combat save some fleeting underground puzzles reminiscent of Ezio’s era. Even the new items seem to only undermine the stealth assassination aspect of the series, with a rarely used lantern and Guillotine Gun (the unholy hybrid of a grenade launcher and axe) doing little to encourage careful planning or avoiding enemies.
Even this might have been enough for fans with the DLC’s more tightly written narrative, but then we get to the bugs. Somehow, after months of patching, all Ubisoft has accomplished is making things worse. Textures relentlessly flicker in and out of existence, with seizure inducing pop-ins of locals and abrupt jumps between high and low resolution on consoles. It can become so bad that fifteen minute bursts of gameplay can even become painful to the eyes.
If you were invested enough in Unity to look past the severe rendering problems, the fiddly textures and massive mechanical bugs, then this might be worth a look. In all honesty though, you’d do better to wait until Ubisoft patches up the problems still plaguing its latest release.
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