If we were writing this review for an English literature class, we'd argue that Franciade is a metaphor for Assassin's Creed Unity as a whole. The expansive sandbox setting, which serves as hero Arno Dorian's stomping ground during add-on Dead Kings, is dark and dreary, contrasting the oversaturated architecture of Paris with something a little more miserable – a bit like the game itself.
The plot picks up after the events of the core campaign, and sees the predictably glum protagonist bargaining for his exit from France. This ushers the assassin into an epilogue involving overconfident infants, catacombs, and some of the worst puzzles that we've seen in some time. The extended ending does come to a more satisfying conclusion than the story that it's furthering, but you'll have to work through a muddled sequence of events before you get there.
No one comes to Ubisoft's pseudo-historical series for the plot, though – it's all about the gameplay, right? Well, you'll find the usual blend of borderline broken platforming and clunky combat present and correct in this expansion. While you'll spend a fair amount of time treading the roof tiles of Saint-Denis' rustic housing estates, it's the underground catacombs that will mostly keep you company. It's here, among the remains of dead dignitaries, that you'll go in search of an artifact that will supposedly save your home nation.
It's also underground that the game introduces its chief new mechanical component: the lantern. The oil operated lighting aid is clumsily mapped to L3, and is used to clear conundrums and run through routes blocked off by creepy-crawlies. In truth, it's all a bit gimmicky, and while it does bring a reliable light source to the poorly lit subterranean setting, you almost get the sense that the developer realised that it was a bad idea during development, as it's swiftly abandoned outside of several boring brazier-based puzzles.
Fortunately, the Guillotine Gun fares a little better than the lamp, adding an enjoyable combat option to Arno's arsenal. Operating much like an axe in hand-to-hand skirmishes, the implement is slow but deadly. It's much more useful when used as a ranged weapon, however, as it works much like a grenade launcher, allowing you to drop mortar bombs into the middle of condensed crowds, before separating them in a swift, satisfying blast. Who doesn't like ragdoll animations, huh?
You'll find yourself up against bigger groups of enemies in this expansion, too, as Raiders number in their hundreds when you're beneath Franciade. These are weak individually, but they will work together when you're spotted in order to bring you down. As a result, you'll need to take out their armoured leader in order to get the upper-hand, at which point the lackeys will run to safety and leave you alone. It's a good idea on paper, and it should encourage stealth, but we found it easier to run into combat, drop a smoke bomb, and then throw a flurry of blows at the distracted chief.
And sadly this is just one example of Unity's flawed core souring the overall experience. While framerate problems aren't exactly prevalent in this add-on pack, we still ran into instances where we'd get trapped in the game's geometry or the sound would partially cut out. Moreover, the cramped Indiana Jones-esque corridors of the catacombs make a poor fit for the property's sticky platforming, meaning that you'll find yourself frequently clinging to the wrong walls as you try to traverse.
To be fair, there's a significant amount of content in the add-on, ranging from new costumes right the way through to fresh chests. However, we couldn't help but chortle when we encountered a series of Far Cry-style Outpost side-missions; as if Ubisoft's open world design philosophy wasn't already heavily homogenised, the publisher's still found space to further the crossover between brands. It's stuff like this that will make you roll your eyes during the expansion's six or so hour running time.
Assassin's Creed Unity: Dead Kings may comprise part of Ubisoft's apology for the dire state of the primary Parisian escapade at launch, but you don't need to play it just because it's free. The bleak backdrop of Franciade sums up this miserable outing, as you engage in dreary underground missions built around the most rudimentary of brazier-based puzzles. We like the addition of the Raiders and the Guillotine Gun, but they're the only jewels in this expansion's smelted crown. Forget about the French revolution – this franchise needs an uprising of its own.
That's a shame, I want back the times of the incredible AC II with the original creative director, Ubisoft is burning this good franchise to the ground.
I think I liked AC1 the best..😐 idk why the series went the direction it did
They need to give it a rest but unfortunately with another AC slated for 2015 it's obvious we're past the point of it ever going back to being a series where Ubisoft gives the devs 3 years or so to craft an excellent experience. They do have enough franchises where they could fill in the waiting time but God forbid Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon or Rainbow Six ever get the spotlight again.
I actually did enjoy AC Unity once it was patched up and playable but it definitely isn't as good as 2 which still remains easily the best in the series.
Aww, it wasn't that bad.
I mean, I wouldn't pay for it, but being free it's a solid 7.
@RaymanFan2 What if you'd paid for it, though?
I sure hope Assassin's Creed Victory is good.
Im heavily biased on 2 like many people are. Although I enjoyed unity I found myself enjoying rogue a helluva alot more. I hope ac:victory has a good balance of rogue and unity as I love the gear load outs but combat was too slow. A middle ground would be nice. This will stay in the backlog for the time being lol.
I think Ubisoft needs to scrap the current combat. It went from letting you be horrendously overpowered to being underpowered since enemies could shoot you in the back from off-screen. That, and it just feels clunky, even compared to Black Flag. I don't know why it was slowed down and made that much harder, especially when the game encourages you to choose your own style of play.
Yeah, AC II and IV were the best, Victory has to be good, or else I feel all hope for the series, may be lost.
@get2sammyb I'd be more hard-pressed to give it a rating, but I'd say:
"Know what you're getting into. You're getting what amounts to about another sixth of Unity's running time, with little differentiation. If that sounds like something you'd find enjoyment in given the [$x] price tag, go ahead, but if you didn't like Unity's base gameplay, there's absolutely nothing here for you."
Were I paying for it I'd expect it to be another hour longer, though. I suspect when they decided it would be free they just said "screw it, finish what's 90% done and scrap the rest, get it out the door in a month or we won't be paying you with that money we aren't making"
After playing the ultra-repetative, over-hyped original Assassin's Creed, I never went back to this over-blown series. I have heard AC2 is amazing & am interested in giving that game a shot, but after seeing what Ubisoft has done to this series (yearly releases blow), I think I will pass.
Oh and I will not support developers who release unfinished, buggy messes. And this newest AC would certainly qualify.
Assassins creed peaked at assassins creed 2 it's been on the decline since and growing stale
Black Flag is amazing Assassin Creed best pirate game out there....you just have to seek the treasure of the game.
As with most others I agree 2 was the best, but I must say I also really liked Brotherhood and that's a contender for second place for me. I enjoyed Black Flag, but tbh there was just too much of that game that consisted of nothing but open water. I really wanted to go for the platinum, but the endless hours spent travelling from place to place listening to the same old shanties just did for me after a while!
@ShogunRok I really liked the combat in this one - I thought it was the best in the series. I agree that people with guns are cheap - and I'm surprised they took away the human shield thing...but after a while, I learned to adapt and you just have to roll really well to avoid the shots. It really encouraged stealth in a way that most of them hadn't.
The worst part about the combat is that I felt the phantom blade gun was way less accurate and underpowered. They should always be one hit kills, but I found a lot of my shots only aggravated people and alerted them to me, so I stopped using it.
@ferrers405 Totally agree. AC2 was superb. The missions in Unity are so bland in comparison. Basically all they boil down to is "go here, kill this person" and that's it. No variation.
In AC2 we dropped bombs from DaVinci's flying machine, raced downhill on horse cart and the assassinations themselves were so much more varied like the one at the fancy dress party.
If Ubisoft could get the producers etc back from AC2 then the series would be in much better hands than those in charge now.
I think I'll give the Unity DLC and this years entry a miss as franchise fatigue has kicked in for me big time.
@ztpayne7 It's fair enough if they wanted to encourage more stealth — I mean, AC has always been a bit easy as far as combat is concerned — but if that's the case, then why give us the option of lugging around heavy weapons and stuff?
I feel like a lot more could have been done to make the game customisable. Want to be great at stealth? Go for it, but you'll be bad at combat. Want to be able to take on whole gangs of bad guys with just your axe? Go for it, but you'll be crap at stealth. A bit more of a trade-off would have been appreciated, I think.
@ztpayne7 I think the basis of the combat is fine, but it feels so sluggish compared to other games that use a similar system. I still find it satisfying sneaking up on folks with the hidden blade, though.
@shogunrok that would be really awesome. Id go full stealth for sure since it is the point of the game lol.
Yeah I'm still on last gen have yet to upgrade but last summer I decided I'd dive into this series and began with AC1 and played all of them straight through black flag. I bought rogue on release while my friend purchased unity at the same time and he seemed to really enjoy it. I was a little let down by rogue because the story was only about half as long as black flag and most of the other games prior though they did give you plenty side content and the story was decent for what it was, something different anyway. I don't think any of the games are terrible to be honest they all have their own charm to them. I can see why 2 and 4 are generally more of the fan favorites because they both blew their predecessors away at release and made things feel fresh again. However I also had a lot of fun with brotherhood, revelations and even 3 mostly because the combat was so slick and I loved the American setting. Seems like I'm not missing much with unity for now though, and hope they can get back on track this coming year. My rankings from first to last would be AC2, Brotherhood, Black Flag, AC3, Rogue, Revelations, AC1.
Even bar it's glitches, technical shortcomings and iffy combat that goes from easy fights to one hit death if you get shot. I am really enjoying Unity more than the snore fest that is 3, but to me 4 was just perfection.
Ubi don't fudge up Victory.
@ShogunRok The problem with the combat for me was that you could just cheese smoke bombs.
Yes, you could stealth, but it was almost always faster to just cheese smoke bombs to either fight everyone without taking damage or escape really easily.
I mean, obviously it's not quite what Ubi intended, but it's bad game design, not bad player discipline that I never stealthed. It's all about balance, and the smart player will always take the unintended path of least resistance over the intended path of greater resistance if a developer makes an oversight in the balance.
@RaymanFan2 Yep - I gave up fighting properly, and just started dropping smoke bombs to win fights. It's even worse in this expansion, because you only really need to kill the Raider leaders.
They sure love destroying their cash cow.
@Wonlee I liked blackflag but didnt think it was amazing. The story was just all over the place, and I never felt like I was really discovering the map, I was just running from 1 loot chest to the other. The piratebattles got boring after you did them 20times as well. I did like the legendary ship battles though
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