Category Archives: tixfeatures

Tales from the Borderlands review

Over the past few years one set have games have had me completely hooked, all the Telltale titles. The Walking Dead was brilliant and The Wolf among us was such fun to play. I’ve always enjoyed games with a great narrative and I love how the story adapted to the decisions you made.

When Telltale announced they were teaming up with Gearbox Studios to create Tales from the Borderlands, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, for me it was almost a perfect combination, the art style and humour of Borderlands mixed in with the Telltale point and click design, but would it work? Let’s find out…

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The first episode of Tales is called Zer0 Sum – If you have played Borderlands you’ll immediately feel like you are back playing it as it’s almost exactly the same but you are playing a point and click game. Of course there will be some of you who are unfamiliar with how the Telltale games play, so let me tell you about that.

Players are given dialogue choices during each episode with only a small amount of time to decide which route to take, all your choices change the game slightly, whether it is just a reaction from another person or a longer standing choice that could make a difference further into the game.

I really enjoyed the combat sections within the game, at certain points you’ll have to be even quicker to get through these sections to make sure you hit the right prompts at the right time. There are also some cool sections that I won’t mention that certainly intensify the action and gives you a break from the dialogue for a few minutes.

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In Tales you play as two characters, Rhys and Fiona, two characters who couldn’t be any more different. Rhys works for Hyperion desperate to find himself in the upper echelons of the organisation rubbing shoulders with the big bosses. He’s been working alongside his partner in crime Vaughn, a nerdy number cruncher who is happy to help his friend. In true Borderlands fashion, things don’t work out and eventually Rhys ends up on Pandora with Vaughn with a plan to change his fortune. Fiona is a con artist who does whatever it takes to survive alongside her sister Sasha. The orphans were taken under Felix’s a wings, a master con artist who they tried to steal from while they were children. Together they have a plan that without realising will bring the four people together.

I found the rest of the story really interesting and was never quite sure where the story was heading, but it was a fun ride the whole way through. It’s great watching Fiona and Rhys and how their relationship is beginning to develop, with Sasha and Vaughn in the wings they appear to be making an awesome foursome.

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The visuals and audio are excellent, the characters looks great and the script was full of borderlands humour. I loved the art style of the Borderlands series and thankfully they have kept everything in place from the original games. It wasn’t without its problems though, quite often the game would lock for 2 and 3 seconds, especially during fight scenes and quite often the first few words of a sentence were repeated like an echo, it can be quite off-putting but when you realise it’s just a problem with the game you get on with regardless.

If you are looking for something different to at you would be mad to pass this up. If you are looking for a more somber story and characters you are better off playing something like the Walking Dead. Borderlands is a bit more brash and the characters are much more lively. I’m really excited about the next four episodes and what happens to the main characters, there were some great twists in the first episode and I’m am sure there are plenty more to come.

We bought our own copy of the game to bring you this review

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Resident Evil HD Remaster Review

Resident Evil HD doesn’t perform the same jump scares of titles such as Outcast; it’s more consistent than that. It is instead a master of drawn-out tension with a sprinkling of dread. A prolonged sense of eerie danger and building fear that excels at mild frights whilst inducing unwavering alertness on the player. To play it is to commit yourself to feeling constantly unsafe from the zombies, dogs and other undead and mutated beasts that dwell within, and just outside, the mysterious mansion. It’s an exhausting, powerful, and highly satisfying experience. Indeed, Resident Evil HD superbly balances its puzzle solving, mystery, suspense and fear to draw you into the pinnacle of survival horror experiences.

Choosing to play as either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield from the Bravo S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactical and Rescue Service) team, you find yourself investigating the disappearance of Alpha team near the Spencer Mansion on the outskirts of Racoon City. After finding Alpha team’s downed helicopter, a mutilated body and a pack of rotting, undead, flesh-eating dogs, your team runs for the safety of the mansion. Trapped inside and with some team members now missing, you start searching for your comrades and investigating what exactly is going on in this remote and mysterious location.

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Resident Evil HD is not an action game. It’s more akin to a point ‘n click adventure or a ‘room escape’ puzzle, just on a larger scale. The ‘action’ is implemented so there is a tangible threat and struggle to survive against something horrifying. The undead monstrosities are a barrier as you search the labyrinthine mansion and its grounds for items to solve all manner of puzzles. The puzzles themselves offer a variety of simple and more cerebral challenges, as you solve riddles and manipulate mechanisms, or just collect objects and place them in their correct slots. Moreover, through their completion further aspects to the plot and revealed, from collecting diaries and notes that speak of strange experiments, to the art work and layout of the mansion that speak to the owner’s personality and intentions. It’s nuanced and clever.

Furthermore, the restrictions on inventory add an additional quandary and challenge to proceedings. You have a very limited amount of space to carry items, weapons, and equipment, forcing you to frequently manage your inventory and weight decisions on what, if any, health items, weapons, and objects you should be holding at any one time. Additionally, items can only be swapped out from crates found in save rooms, forcing you to trek between them and any items you fancy collecting.

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Unexpected events like zombies crashing through windows and filling a hallway previously vacant can make you curse your choice in handgun over shotgun. Meanwhile, wasting the valuable ammo of your grenade launcher on lesser foes can leave you overwhelmed later in the game against stronger enemies. Additionally, you need ink ribbons – an extra concern to item management – in order to save your progress at typewriters placed throughout the course of your adventure. It can get frustrating, but it’s an integral part of the survival experience, and the overall sense of desperation is can cause is absolutely worth it.

Just as inventory management adds to the survival aspect, the fixed camera and awkward movement and aiming mechanics add to the horror. Corridors are more menacing, the lights casting all manner of foreboding shadows across the walls and floor. Corners are frightening, sounds are terrifying: footsteps, growls, moans, rapidly approaching from an unknown angle. The restricted and intractable view of the camera adds a thick atmosphere of fear to every location that a free camera could never do.

Meanwhile, aiming and moving is inaccurate, with the former restricted to digital as opposed to analogue function, making the weakest of enemies considerably more threatening, deadly, and scary. It certainly gets frustrating as you wrestle to line-up shots at the three angels of low, high and hip, or come running down a corridor avoiding a spritely enemy, only to turn the wrong way as the camera switches and your direction gets confused. However, once again it adds to the desperation of survival and the horror of the foes, keeping Resident Evil firmly outside of the action genre.

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Depending on the character you choose, the flow of the plot, the location of items, acquisition of weapons, and overall difficulty will be different. Additionally, a handful of different outcomes to choices you make affect the ending, of which there are multiple. You can also unlock weapons, costumes, and cheats by completing the game with different characters and on different difficulties, encouraging replay.

Of course completing the game in the first place is a challenge. Enemies are deadly and numerous, saving is restricted due to the ink ribbon mechanic, and the puzzles can be devious. Making your way through the mansion, even with a map, is confusing, with neat tricks such as the odd degrading door knob adding diversions to your exploration. If you know precisely what you’re doing and where you’re going you could conquer it in five hours, but your initial playthrough is far more likely to enter double digits.

If you played and enjoyed the original 1996 Resident Evil or its director’s cut, then you owe it to yourself to experience the hugely different and almost unrecognisable transformation of this version. Gamecube fans who played this back in 2002 will find new analogue movement, 5.1 surround sound support, and greatly enhanced visuals, but the same excellent experience, and the fact it’s so superb should be more than enough to encourage you to pick this up.

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As odd as it sounds to have an HD remastering of a remake, this is a wonderful survival horror experience that looks, sounds, and plays on par with anything on the market currently. The restrictions of inventory, saving, and aiming feel more purposeful to the survival horror experience than they do antiquated, and although the odd line is cheesy and the voice acting disappointing, there’s a great B-movie story here that’s intriguing, charming and highly enjoyable. Resident Evil HD suffers from slightly awkward movement but is otherwise survival horror at its very best.

Thanks to Capcom for supplying TiX with a download code

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What makes a good “Twist”?

Given the content of this article, it should be clear from the get go that this is going to be a spoiler heavy article. I’ll be sure to mention the name of a particular game IN BOLD before giving away it’s twists to give enough time for you to hit the emergency close button should it need to be utilised.

Everyone loves a good twist right? A turn in the tale that nobody (save a few smart alecs) saw coming. If I were to pose you the question of “what are your favorite gaming moments?” I’m sure that there would be a few good twists in there. The same can be said of TV shows and movies.

Like all good things however, they can turn sour when used too much. Both the first Saw movie and The Sixth Sense had big twist endings that were very popular. So in an attempt to recapture that particular lightning in a bottle, the rest of the Saw series, plus a lot of M. Night Shyamalan’s later movies, followed in suit with big shocking reveals in the final reel. However, they were usually criticised for feeling forced, unnecessary and simply being a twist for the sake of a twist.

This brings up a few questions: What makes a good twist? Are there set rules or parameters to follow?

Lets take a look at one of my favorite twists (from one of my favorite games) of all time as a case study. STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC. You play as a simple soldier in the republic who eventually becomes a Jedi. Your masters marvel at your skills and you’re set out on a mission to save the galaxy. So far so basic. Just past the halfway point, however, you come face to face with Darth Malak, the enemy of the game, who reveals that you are actually Darth Revan, the evil Sith ruler whom people have been talking about the entire game and was thought to have died years ago but has had their memory wiped and their connection to the force severed.

Knights of the old RepublicA massive twist you didn’t see coming? Sure. However, simply being unexpected isn’t enough to leave a lasting impression. Learning about your past changes the way you look at everything. You can start the game form the beginning and see characters reacting differently and what their hidden agenda could be. I even started behaving differently, why shouldn’t I? I’m not some nameless Jedi anymore still trying to find their way in the galaxy, I’m Motherloving Darth Revan, the Sith Lord who single-handedly brought a galaxy to it’s knees!

There is a slight parallel between KOTOR and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in the impact their respective twists have on the story. Upon learning each twist, you almost expect, or at least wouldn’t be surprised if the hero should suddenly decide to turn evil, either to take revenge on the Jedi masters trying to manipulate you or to join your once thought dead Daddy to rule the galaxy together. Hell, an alternate ending to Return of the Jedi was going to have Luke putting on his father’s helmet and assuming the role of Sith Lord. The best of twists aren’t just pieces of information withheld from the audience, they affect perceptions and viewpoints.

Lets move even further from video-games for one moment. Look at GAME OF THRONES. The reasons I love the twists in this series so much is that they almost act like tonal check-points. No matter what happens, no matter what you’re told, you’re always expecting the same thing to happen right? Ned Stark would weed out the corruption, Cersei Lannister would be killed/driven from King’s Landing and the good guys would win. Which of course doesn’t happen. Though even after Ned gets a sudden pain in the neck, you expect the Starks to rise up against the Lannisters and avenge him. Of course they would, that’s essentially what the show is about now, right?….. right?

Time and time again these twists in the tale keep cropping up to remind us that no, this is not how the world of Westoros works. Simply being good isn’t a protector from evil. It forces you to view the show and it’s characters differently and realise that the unwritten rules you were previously following don’t apply here.

My point is that the twist has to be more than a nice decoration to hang on the wall, it fundamentally changes your viewpoint, maybe even your character. Going back to KOTOR, I had one friend who choose the light side, then changed their mind after realising they were already a Sith Lord. Even I, goody two-shoes whom I always play as, found myself yelling “I’m Darth Revan, watch your tongue or I’ll pull it out” at stupid Sith disciples trying to hassle me on Korriban.

Conversely, I’m always a little surprised when people talk about how great the twists in BIOSHOCK INFINITE, and to a lesser extent, BIOSHOCK are. I simply don’t understand the realisation that Elizabeth is your daughter and you also being Comstock are such shocks to the system. Unexpected, sure, though I just found myself shrugging, saying “Oh, OK sure”. I would actually argue that having Booker find out about Comstock earlier may have actually added more weight to the story and give Comstock some necessary presence, as he mostly comes off as just another bad-guy. No need for hype and drama, Booker could have just been informed of it earlier.Comstock_Statue

Bringing it up as a huge twist at the end simply didn’t accomplish as much. What does it add to the narrative? What does it change? For me it only brought up questions; why doesn’t Booker remember having a daughter? Wouldn’t seeing a girl with half a pinky missing be an obvious clue? While I’m sure that some flowchart, audio log or a convenient case of memory loss easily explains away a lot of the plot holes, that just feels more like a plaster added to remedy the problem later.

Woops, this is starting to sound more like a rant on Bioshock, wasn’t intentional I swear! The point I was trying to make is that the twists in Bioshock Infinite don’t really seem to change anything. At the end of the day, they don’t matter. Like in THE VILLAGE when it turns out that they are living in the present day as opposed to 200 years ago, who cares? Even in Bioshock, does realising that you’re Andrew Ryan’s son really matter? Sure, learning about Atlas’ deception is interesting, although I’d like to bring up a side note at this point; “hypnosis” in and of itself is not a twist, it’s a cheap device. This was also an issue I had with the ending of OLDBOY, whenever they need something explained, they wave it away with hypnosis.

Playing Bioshock a second time and hearing “Would you kindly” is certainly quite fun and the way it interacts with the level design is well done as you literally have no choice in the matter, but at the end of the day, it’s still hypnosis and as such is quite cheap.

It may be strange to call out convenient memory loss and hypnosis when just a few paragraphs ago I held up KOTOR’s twist as a prime example of a twist which essentially consists of both these things, which I suppose is a fair point. I was all set to write an arbitrary list of rules that twists must follow, but I suppose the most important rule has already been stated; for a twist to be effective, it must change our view of the characters, the world, the setting or all of the above. Otherwise, you’re just telling us stuff we didn’t know.

Look, I get it, twists are fun. They get us talking and they leave a lasting impression, but it’s hard not to feel that after a while it has almost becomes a money grubbing, bean counting tactic to gain publicity. CALL OF DUTY 4: MODERN WARFARE had a jaw droppingTeamplayer_shepherd_magnum twist in it’s nuke scene and the reaction was so positive that for it’s sequel CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 2, they had even more, bigger twists, even when they made no sense in terms of story or design. Sure, wait until after an intense battle sequence before having the General suddenly show his true colors and murder you after AN HOUR OF PLAYING THE SAME SEQUENCE OVER AND OVER AGAIN I HATE THIS LEVEL!

Ahem, sorry. To conclude, a ground shaking twist is not a means to an end. Like everything else in your arsenal, it’s a tool. A tool to be used, or not, to the best of your abilities, to best tell your story, whatever it may be. Oh, and by the way, Rosebud was his sled.

Giveaway: Xbox One digital copy of Assassin’s Creed Unity

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UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone that entered and congrats to Lisa Aalderink from the Netherlands – you’ve bagged yourself a digital copy of Assassin’s Creed Unity courtesy of Games on Demand – we’ve passed them your details so they should be in touch soon!

 

Happy New Year everyone! To celebrate the start of 2015, we’ve teamed up with Games on Demand again to bring you another awesome giveaway. Our last giveaway for 12 months of Xbox Live Gold went down really well, especially for Chris Hare who nabbed the prize thanks to the expert drawing skills of the Rafflecopter computer.

Don’t worry if you missed out on the prize, Games on Demand currently have the cheapest online deal for 12 months of Xbox Live Gold – £26.80. You can also pay in Euros or Dollars if you live across the pond – does this make the deal the cheapest in your region? Let us know in the comments below!

Now on to January’s giveaway, a digital copy of Assassin’s Creed Unity! Don’t let Unity’s rocky start in life put you off… now that the majority of bugs have been fixed it’s certainly in my top three games of 2014! The code is region free so the giveaway is open to everyone (except TiX staff) no matter what part of the world you reside in.

To be in with a chance of winning, fill out the entry form on our swanky Rafflecopter plug-in and it will even select a winner when the giveaway ends at midnight on February 1st. Good luck and don’t forget to go and check out Games on Demand, they are adding more and more Xbox stock all the time.

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Thoughts on Halo 5 Guardians beta Early Access

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We all have that one special game that got us hooked. Halo 2 hooked me into multiplayer gaming – and as much as I enjoyed Halo 3 and 4, nothing compared to the fun I had back on my original Xbox. 343 Industries have been at the helm of the franchise for some time now but Halo 5: Guardians is their first step into new-gen. OK, so there is Halo: The Master Chief Collection… but Halo 5: Guardians is truly our first real glimpse at 343i’s vision for the series on Xbox One.

From December 19th to the 21st, Xbox One Preview Program members, select gamers, and members of the press have been given a special treat – early access to the beta’s first week content, which goes live for everyone else on December 29th. This includes two maps: Truth (a remake of Halo 2’s Midship) and Empire; both playable in 4v4 Slayer.

The first thing I was happy to see was the removal of Spartan abilities. For me, these took away the essence of Halo and frustrated me more than empowering my gameplay. You can still sprint (which may still bother some purists) but it certainly helps to speed up the pace of the game. Spartans also have jet packs that can be used to boost in any direction (think Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare). The only real ‘ability’ is the ground punch but I found this rather tricky to pull off – and even when I did, I found it nigh impossible to take someone out.

It can be said that Call of Duty took a lot of inspiration from Halo. Titanfall took inspiration from Call of Duty, and Destiny tried to make a niche for itself and establish a foothold Bungie once commanded in the competitive multiplayer scene. With this in mind, it has to be said that Halo 5: Guardians owes its inspiration to all of the above – and their influence is evident right from the presentation of the game and team introductions, all the way through to the combat. The classic Halo weapons make a return and instantly feel familiar, yet somehow strangely alien.

Halo 5: Guardians feels much like meeting up with an old friend you used to know really well but haven’t seen in 10 years – they’re still the same person but ever so slightly different. They talk and act with more maturity – and for their age they look great. This pretty much sums up how I feel about Halo 5: Guardians. It looks brilliant, plays with more maturity – but underneath it all, the same old friend is still there.

Communication has been an issue in gaming ever since party chat killed off in-game chat. Halo 5 helps with this problem to some extent. Your team’s Spartans call out when weapons spawn, what they’ve picked up, when they’re reloading, and the locations of enemies. They even thank you for your assistance and call out the names of map areas, which certainly helps with teamwork and coordinating an attack when nobody is actually communicating!

The only real niggles I had were that the shields seem to take a while to recharge and grenades aren’t as easy to get kills with. Timing is everything, so grenade spammers need not apply.

Overall, I feel that Halo 5: Guardians retains the essence of why I loved Halo 2’s multiplayer – and although it may come loaded with all the mod cons of many other shooters on the market: zoomable weapons, kill cams, jet pack boosts and the ability to mantle objects, it still feels distinctively Halo – tea bagging included!

Thanks to Xbox for supplying TiX with a download code

 

Razer unleashes the Kraken upon Xbox One

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The guys behind the hugely popular PC gaming headset Kraken have taken to the Xbox One scene by releasing their first headset for the newest console on the block. The Razer Kraken Stereo Gaming Headset is available now for Xbox One and boasts a set of 40mm neodymium drivers powering each of the left and right headset speakers, while the headband padding ensures comfort throughout your gaming sessions – at least that’s what it says on the tin, hopefully we will report back soon with first hand experience of these sweet looking cans.

Our Kraken headset series has always been popular with gamers who are looking for high-performance audio and product quality,” said Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO. “Like the Xbox One, the Kraken Gaming Headset for Xbox One is designed to provide gamers with unparalleled power and performance. This new headset is joining the Razer Atrox arcade stick for Xbox One and we are excited to expand our console line further in the future.

As you might expect, the headset comes complete with its own built in mic and even comes with an audio control unit so there’s no need to purchase the additional Xbox headset adaptor before you can use the Kraken.

The Kraken’s finer statistics

Price: US: $99.99 / EUR: €99.99
Availability:
RazerStore: Available Now
Worldwide: December 2014
Headphone features:
Optimized weight for extended wear
Closed ear cup design for maximum comfort
Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
Impedance: 32Ω at 1 kHz
Sensitivity (@1 kHz, 1 V/Pa): 110 ± 4 dB at 1 kHz Max
Input Power: 50 mW
Drivers: 40 mm, with Neodymium magnets

Microphone features:
Frequency response: 100 – 10,000 Hz
Signal-to-noise ratio: 50 dB
Sensitivity (@1 kHz, 1V/Pa): -42 ± 3 dB
Pick-up pattern: Unidirectional

Audio Control Unit features:
Proprietary port for connection to the Xbox One Controller
Dedicated volume control and mute button
Individual controls for game and chat volume

Chatty Man – The Party Invite

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Ah, the chat feature. It’s something that can become the bane of any gamer’s existence while also serving as a crucial tool for conquering your next mission (depending on the game, of course). While the concept of chat in its most basic form is an admittedly wonderful thing and can even lead to friendships with like-minded people, it’s a feature that can be quickly bastardised by teenagers looking to hurl insults at everyone they can.

Enter the party invite. For those unfamiliar with the party system, you can head to the Xbox LIVE site for more information, though it works a little something like this: You can setup a group of up to eight people with whom you can communicate directly instead of throwing yourself into the world of open chat. In other words, it restricts your brain from dealing with the potential nonsense of someone talking smack about you (or in most cases, your mum). Again, this is especially helpful when playing a game such as Destiny, the Halo-RPG hybrid that pretty much isn’t the least bit entertaining when playing solo. That storyline? Awful.

In our review of Destiny, we mentioned that the game comes alive when playing with friends on your Xbox LIVE list “due to knowing it will be a co-operative effort.” But then we asked, “But how many times before it becomes stale?” The answer could potentially be that, in this case, party chat isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Or, rather, it’s the idea of only playing with your party that can make a game like this stale. Sure, playing with people you don’t know can be intimidating, awkward, whatever, but it can also open a game up to new experiences. A random person may know something you don’t or be more capable of taking on certain tasks that you and your friends keep failing at. Whatever the case, alleviating boredom could potentially saved by treading back into the world of game chat. On the other hand, it could just lead to more frustration for you and anyone who decides to head into game chat with you, so tread lightly.

A more personal form of chatting with other players isn’t only something that’s been addressed for console (and PC) gamers. In fact, you can find instances of where a more personalised version is preferred in pretty much any type of gaming. Take Betfair’s poker site, for example, where players are encouraged to talk amongst themselves (via text, not voice) as the cards are dealt. The platform has a more refined chat system that allows you to see the messages that you want, leaving you free from potential foolishness being talked about by others. If you want to simply communicate with the dealer, you can. Want to only chat with the players? That’s an option, too. You can also completely turn off the feature, which can often be warranted in this particular game to allow for better focus and, like with on Xbox LIVE, avoiding any unnecessary insults from immature players.

But what do you, the reader, think about this issue? Is group chat killing the idea of a more open game chat or are we better off not indulging the goofballs out there trying to get a rise out of us all? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Assassins Creed: Unity Review

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Assassins Creed games come round once a year, sometimes more depending on the consoles you own. If like me you’ve been playing them since the initial release back in 2007 you’ve probably also loved and hated some previous titles in the series. If you haven’t read our Assassins Creed: Black Flag review back during the Xbox One launch, now would be the time.

Assassins Creed has become a power house for Ubisoft with each new release bringing in the revenue as fans seem to be as strongly devoted to the series now as they were back in 2008/9. Assassins Creed: Black Flag was developed for both (at the time) current and next gen consoles whereas Unity has been developed purely for new current gen cycle of consoles.  Black Flag looked great, Unity looks stunning. Let’s take a dive (from a high view point), and delve into the French Revolution.

Our protagonist is Arno Dorian, a young native Frenchman born in Versailles to an Assassin and his wife. The story begins at the end of Assassins Creed Rogue where Arno’s father is murdered and he himself is adopted, unbeknown to him by The Templar Grandmaster and his family including Elise De LaSerre who from the outset is clearly introduced as Arno’s love interest. During the opening tutorial missions, Arno’s adopted father is murdered and Arno accused of the act and imprisoned. Whilst incarcerated and blaming himself Arno meets an Assassin who eventually helps him escape. Setting out on a quest of redemption, Arno is eventually brought before the Brother of Assassins and like in previous titles, he rise through the ranks is swift.

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Characters of note you’ll meet include the famous French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte, Maximilien De Robespierre one of the most influential figures during the French Revolution and Marquis de Sade a French aristocrat, revolutionary politician, philosopher and writer who during the French Revolution was elected delegate to the National Convention. Game development, which weaves it way through history right through to the execution of Louis XVI, was carefully over seen by a number of high profile historians recruited by Ubisoft including Laurent Turcot, a professor from Universite du Quebec a Trois-Rivieres. It was this attention to detail and supervision of the script which really makes Assassins Creed Unity stand out in comparison to previous titles in the series.

Speaking of development, it is worth noting that Assassins Creed Unity officially went into development shortly after the release of Assassins Creed: Brotherhood back in 2010. With development teams from both Brotherhood and Assassins Creed III involved, it wasn’t until March 2014 that we got to see Arno for the first time via some leaked screenshots. Development was completed by 10 different Ubisoft studios with the lead team based out of Montreal. These different studios are what I believe have led to a number of technical issues across the game; albeit now mostly resolved through hefty patches and updates.

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Assassins Creed: Unity shipped with a host of challenges for Ubisoft. Ranging from technical issues and performance related problems, a stilted and somewhat over stiff combat system, a free running experience with an overly controlling auto-correct system and a story line which although brilliantly detailed can at times introduce characters whom have pointless relationships with what is happening around them. These problems and many more lead to an official apology from Ubisoft Montreal including free DLC (Assassins Creed Unity: Dead Kings) for all players and for those who purchased the Season Pass, a free game from the Ubisoft catalogue including The Crew and Far Cry 4.

Even with all the challenges faced during launch, Assassins Creed: Unity still had a lot to offer players including a vast, vibrant city open to explore right from the get go. Moving around the city will be familiar to all Assassins Creed fans and Arno controls much like the other assassins, although the parkour elements have been modified and changed a little. Now players can control either going up or down when scaling buildings with the push of a button. While the game has a standard set of main missions, taking around 12-15 hours to play through it also contains a truly huge amount and variety of side quests including a new favourite of mine; murder mysteries. But it also includes protection style missions, pulling down propaganda posters and of course renovating and improving Arno’s Head Quarters, the Café Théâtre. This building was once the intelligence gathering front of the Assassin Brotherhood but become a neglected, run down shell. Given over to Arno the building becomes his base of operations in Paris during the game. In it Arno can attend plays, keep his armour and weapons, further train his Assassin skills and complete side missions furthering his influence and wealth. There is seemingly an endless amount of content here. The base also acts as the entrance to the underground Assassin Brotherhood HQ.

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Much overdue is the tweaked combat system which now includes a unique way of levelling armour and weapons through upgrades. Everything in the game is rated with diamonds, the more diamonds the harder the challenge whether it be a fight, mission or otherwise. Likewise Arno is rated by diamonds based on his unlocked abilities, armour and weapons equipped. As the diamonds increase, so does the challenge and the ability to tackle them.

One of the biggest gripes with many players when Assassins Creed: Unity was released was the combat system seemed to be slow and clunky. With that comes an added difficulty which although frustrating at first, was very deliberate. Enemies can no longer be countered too easily, and can in turn interrupt your own attacks. Arno can also no longer sustain more than a couple of bullet shots. Players must time parries just right to be able to strike back. The harder the enemy rating, the more they block, throw flash bangs and dodge attacks. This is all a welcome challenge especially considering that sometimes the combat situations you found yourself in during Assassins Creed: Black Flag were overly simplistic.

Assassins Creed Unit Screenshot 2

The scale and scope of Paris is breath-taking and even though the game had it’s share of production challenges, you can’t help but be left admiring how alive the streets of Paris feel. Although the time of day doesn’t change dynamically any more, it does when fast travelling between locations and when entering/leaving various missions. Roaming the rooftops of Paris tells a story of a city in turmoil, as you navigate around landmarks you’ll be constantly greeted with signs of protest and unrest as hundreds of NPC’s on screen gather in public places. The facial features, movements and attention to detail in clothing during the cut scenes are really impressive throughout and it’s safe to say that Assassins Creed: Unity is visually spectacular.

I’ve always been an Assassins Creed fan, always playing the games imagining a more open world style gameplay that Assassins Creed: III and Assassins Creed: Black Flag hinted at. Although yes the game has its challenges with the technical problems that plagued the initial release, Assassins Creed: Unity has hours or gameplay to enjoy, a solid campaign, a beautifully recreated Paris and some superb voice acting. Ubisoft Montreal made some mistakes, but it’s also hard not to appreciate everything they got right.

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Giveaway: 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscription

UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone that entered – see you in 2015 with more giveaways to share! Now we  give you our winner of the 12 month Xbox Live Gold Membership:

Chris Hare – congrats fella!

Games on demand have been passed your details and will be in touch soon!


Is your Xbox Live Gold subscription coming to an end? Well we have just the ticket for you! In partnership with Games on Demand we have a 12 month Xbox Live Gold Subscription to give out to one lucky reader and the best thing is… it’s open to everyone – the code is region free so you can redeem it no matter what part of the world you live in!

To be in with a chance of winning, fill out the entry form on our swanky Rafflecopter plug-in and it will even select a winner when the giveaway ends at midnight on December 24th, that’s right… this will be delivered right to you for Christmas day!

Good luck and don’t forget to go and check out Games on Demand and let us know what you think of their website in the comments below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway