Monday, May 25, 2015

Assassin's Creed: Unity: Dead Kings DLC review

    Warning - this will contains spoilers for Assassin's Creed: Unity.

    Assassin's Creed: Unity was a very flawed game. It had an amazing set of graphics, fun gameplay, and a lot of bonus content contrasted with a vanilla protagonist who bounced his way through a brutal misrepresentation of history. One thing which really bothered me, though, was that Arno Dorian's storyline didn't really resolve itself.

    It just stopped.

    When last we left Arno Dorian, he'd just lost the love of his life and been drummed out of the Assassins. An epilogue revealed him wearing the robes of a Master Assassin and still working with Napoleon Bonaparte but this didn't provide any context to what his current situation was. There was a rather confusing voice over about what he believed the Assassin's Creed meant but that just added more questions since none of the events in the game related to his conclusions.

    In short, it felt rushed and half-finished.

I wonder what the Assassins DO with the Pieces of Eden.
    Assassin's Creed: Unity: Dead Kings is a free DLC from Ubisoft which provides a number of answers to the game's emotional questions if not the overarching plot. Much like the Siege of Foril and Bonfire of the Vanities, Dead Kings feels like an actual part of the story. I don't think the game is really "complete" unless you choose to play it.

    So it has that recommendation.

    I should note, though, Dead Kings wasn't originally meant to be free. It was originally part of the Season Pass of the game. However, Ubisoft decided to make it free to all purchasers of the game as a means of apologizing for the dicey launch of Unity. I've got to say that it goes a long way to winning over my trust, especially knowing that purchasers of the Season Pass get a free game instead.

    So what is the premise?

The Marquis de Sade is an odd choice for Arno's sole remaining friend.
    Arno Dorian is sick of France after the death of Elise at the hands of Germaine. Contacting the Marquis de Sade, he asks for help in getting to Egypt. Why Egypt? Maybe Arno wants to climb the pyramids. Anyway, the Marquis' price is the recovery of a treasure map which gets him involved in Napoleon's plot to recover another Piece of Eden. Along the way, Arno befriends a small boy named Leon who helps him recover a sense of purpose about what he's supposed to be doing with his life.

    There's a lot wrong with this premise, ranging from the fact I don't see why Arno Dorian needs help from a crime lord to get out of France when he can just buy a ticket. There's also the fact I'm not sure what the Marquis wants versus Napoleon versus everyone else. I'm sure it was explained but the plot seems to be almost an excuse. Plus, any time a story depends on the idea of the main character teaming up with a bratty adolescent--you know there's going to be problems.

    Yet, despite this, I liked it.

The bats are an annoyance as is the constant need to refill the lamp.
    The biggest thing this DLC has going for it is Arno's new cynical hard-edged personality. He actually emotes more than smug arrogant swashbuckler. Really, I'm kind of sad the storyline is about him regaining faith in the Assassin cause because I liked his new personality. Leon also serves a decent role as symbolizing Arno's lost idealism.

    Really, the entire DLC is nothing but one gigantic scavenger hunt for yet another Piece of Eden. It's about the laziest plotline you could conceive of for Assassin's Creed. Still, it's a well-done lazy bit of plotting with lots of strange puzzles and Indiana Jones-like scenes. It also culminates in getting a chance to use a Piece of Eden against the hordes of annoying bandits you faced in the previous levels.

    The graphics are well-done, too, with the city of Saint Denis being a fog-encrusted town filled with ruined churches and creepy cemeteries. The creepy sense of the macabre and decay contrasts with the relatively uplifting story, giving the game a unique feel. The addition of a lantern mechanic doesn't add much to the story but I enjoyed the new enemy types who are the first in the history of the franchise to realize fighting a superpowered ninja is stupid.

Leon could have easily been as annoying as Scrappy Doo but, shockingly, isn't.
    The biggest addition for the game is the "Guillotine Gun" which is a bazooka which can also serve as a spear. It's a kind of bizarre weapon that's out of place in the game but given it's shown up in the inventory of the main game from the beginning, a lot of us were looking forward to it. While useless to those of us who prefer to minimize casualties, it's wonderful for mass mayhem.

    Overall, I'm going to compliment the DLC as being slightly more enjoyable than the original, accent on slightly, even if it is derivative treasure hunt.


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