R8DM Blogs: In Search of the Perfect Gaming Experience - Assassin’s Creed Unity and Far Cry 4

The search begins with a pair of AAA Ubisoft games.  

Assassin’s Creed Unity and Fary Cry 4 have both become well known staples of the gaming landscape over the past 10 years.  Both series have gained hordes of loyal fans, but that success was built on game engines from the previous generation of hardware specs.  Now that we’ve moved on to the new set of machines, do these new entries take advantage of the additional power and mobile integration to live up to the experience that we’re expecting?

Assassin’s Creed: Unity

Metacritic: 73

Mark Walton’s Gamespot review hits home with me when it comes to AC: Unity.  As I already stated in Part 1 of this series, I have a love/hate relationship with this game.  Here’s how it shapes up using the perfect gaming experience criteria:

Fun: So-so

Certain aspects of AC: Unity are a blast to play.  The campaign is fresh and interesting, while the co-op and heist missions create a new level of enjoyment that I didn’t know was possible with this series.  But when I look at the entire package of AC Unity I can’t say that I had a lot of fun playing it.  There were too many frustrating moments to offset the really cool moments that Unity presents in its many different aspects of gameplay.  Glitches were apparent, collectables are overwhelming, and swordfighting feels a bit too clunky.

Challenge: Inconsistent

To Ubisoft’s credit, there’s a lot of different ways to play AC Unity and each offers it’s own level of difficulty.  Stealth finally matters in campaign missions in Assassin’s Creed...at least in the beginning.  Once I leveled up Arno, I found myself taking the same Leeroy Jenkins approach that I had become accustomed to when playing through this series.  Side missions don’t offer much from a challenges standpoint as they’re primarily fetch quests while chests, cockades, and artifact collectables are more annoying than challenging.  On the other hand, the Nostradamus Enigmas and Murder Mysteries indeed stretch the brain muscles.  

Length: Exhausting

I may end up needing to break down this criterion into sub-categories for open world games, but the main campaign felt good and I always looked forward to tackling the next mission.  Similarly, the co-op and heist missions took just the right amount of time with enough mission variations.  However, everything else in AC Unity took way too long to accomplish.  It felt like the developers shoved as many menial tasks as possible to 100% the game just to keep the us within the walls of Paris, rather than creating smart content with fun things to do that would keep us coming back naturally.

Immersion:

Main Game: Fantastic

The atmosphere in 18/19 century Paris is wonderful.  Buildings feel authentic, crowds are dense and bubbling with life.  It irked me that they didn't’ include horses, but I can understand why they left them out.  

Extension: Abysmal

Assassin’s Creed: Unity Companion (Free, Premium Upgrade for $1.99)

I’ll start with the good: The AC: Unity Companion App includes a map of Paris that syncs with the current in game progress, along with full encyclopedia entries for the people/places/events that you’ve unlocked in the game.  You can also find a heatmap of where other players are within Paris.  That’s all fine and well, but then Ubisoft tried to make a game out of it and the wheels completely fall off.  

Summary

Assassin’s Creed Unity is an inconsistent experience that offers fantastic highs, but is riddled with crippling lows.

Final Verdict: Not Perfect


Far Cry 4

Metacritic: 82

I tend to agree with Mitch Dyer’s assessment of the game in that there is a lot of fun to be had in Far Cry 4, but I was often confused by how it all fit together.  Here’s how it breaks down:

Fun: Delightful

The opening scene really sets the tone for the type of adventure you’re about to embark on in Kyrat.  Being new to the series, I found the game to be a refreshing departure from the more serious games that I’ve played in recent months.  It’s clear the game doesn’t take itself too seriously and gives the player a ton of different things to do and just as many ways to do them.  While it wasn’t void of tedium, the vast majority of my time with the game was spent wearing an ear to ear brain grin.

Challenge: Solid

Playing on Hard felt like the difficulty sweet spot for Far Cry 4.  While I didn’t play on Normal at any point, deaths usually involved my inherent lack of patience and I was rightly forced to be more careful on subsequent mission runs.  If enemies or other challenges were made any easier I think I would have felt too invincible and spent even less time attempting stealth, which many of the game’s mechanics are geared towards.

Length: Satisfying

FC4’s Kyrat is a huge environment to explore with plenty of story and side missions.  You’ll need to partake in a number of side missions and/or general hunting to upgrade your skills and equipment enough to progress the story, but the final stages of the game don’t require you to be fully upgraded.  It’s a nice balance between wanting to do everything in the game and needing to do everything in the game.  There’s always plenty more to come back to when the story is completed.

Immersion:

Main Game: Excellent

One thing that’s become clear when playing consecutive games created by the same company is that Ubisoft specializes in world building.  I very much felt like I was a stranger in a strange and quirky yet dangerous country.  Everything from the gorgeous landscape and massive variety of fauna to the excellent writing and a plethora of unique personalities are packed into Far Cry 4.  Certain characters are a bit confusing, though, which keeps me from giving out perfect marks in this category.  

My favorite touch was listening to the the locals call the main character “Ah-jay Gah-lay,” while he in fact referred to himself as the Americanized “AJ Gale.”

Extension: Decent

Far Cry 4 Arena Master (Free) & Far Cry 4 Arcade Poker (Free)

Both of Far Cry 4’s companion apps offer main game benefits, but didn’t make me feel like I was learning more about about Ajay or Kyrat to make me feel like I was getting a true FC4 experience while I was away from my console.  

Progressing in Arena Master boosts your Arena rating in the main game, which has unlockable weapons and an achievement associated with it.  This is good.  However, the majority of the  gameplay feels more like a chore than a fun element of the game.

Arcade Poker takes on the mini game approach with an interesting combination of poker and Tetris.  Progressing unlocks lump sums of currency that can be collected in Far Cry 4.  Unfortunately, money isn’t that hard to come by in Kyrat, so this integrated benefit loses its luster quickly.  

Summary

Far Cry 4 has a lot going for it and scores high in almost all of the PGE criteria. However, the overall package and execution of its game extensions aren’t enough to call it the end all be all of next-gen gaming experiences.

Final Verdict: Not Perfect


What's next?

Here's the list of games that I'm planning on tackling next in my quest to find the Perfect Gaming Experience.

PGE Game Queue: (in no particular order)

  • Shadow of Mordor
  • NBA 2K15
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Grand Theft Auto V

Feel free to post a comment if there are any games you think I should add to the list.  Keep in mind that they must have a game extension of some sort (e.g. mobile app) in order to fit the Perfect Gaming Experience criteria.

See you online!

Colin Perkins

Rated M Gaming Network

XBL: Broke Box