The complaint gets around that an annualized series like <em>Call of Duty </em>really wears down the fanbase. But at least that twitch shooter experience has an intrinsic element of fun for some people that I can see work year after year. In the same way <em>Pokémon</em> can maintain the same gameplay year after year but still remain fun. I don’t know if <em>Assassin’s Creed</em> can pull that off as well, if <em>Assassin’s Creed Unity</em>, the next-gen entry in the series taking place in Paris during the infamous French Revolution, is any indication. The story is getting shallower as the series progresses. Gone is the context of Desmond entering the memories of ancestors, or even the weak justification of using past memories to create a video game. This time, it’s just the flimsy pretext of a woman from the Assassin’s Order asking you to… actually I’m not sure what she wants. Data or something? It sucks. The Assassin of the Year, Arno, is actually a pretty fun character. It would seem there was effort to recapture the charm of Ezio, with Arno making flippant quirks and fancy flourishes in his swordsmanship. The acting, both in the voice performance and excellent facial capture, make the cutscenes fairly impressive. It feels like watching a period drama, with some very human interactions that other, clumsier games don’t get close to creating. But Arno seems only tangentially related to, y’know, the whole rebellion thing, and while a game like <em>Assassin’s Creed II</em> had a natural progression of a character from boy to full-fledged assassin, <em>Unity </em>seems to want to just get the backstory over with and get Arno into the assassin hood. A city has never been quite as well-realized as the Paris in the French Revolution as told by <em>Unity</em>. Despite the issues that crop up, it is impressive to see truly massive crowds of NPCs filling the streets, driving home the discontent of the people during that troublesome time. Climbing the Notre Dame cathedral, and seeing the camera zooming out to show the ceaseless detail of the city around, it’s a technical marvel. That is, when it works. The technical issues of the game have been the big story of the previous week. It’s hard to admire the hard work the level designers put into the city when French flags pop into existence and crowds act like glitching idiots. The frame rate kills it for me. I should be breathing in the excellent environment, but with it lurching around, I get more of the impression the game barely holding itself together. Ubisoft should be embarrassed it was released in this state. There were interviews where developers claimed that combat had been improved from the painfully easy, counter-to-win of previous games, even stating the counter ability had been removed entirely. This proved to be a half-truth: there is a parry command instead that demands more timing, but unless you get ambushed by a few enemies with guns, it’s still a breeze. It’s still fairly unfulfilling, especially coming off of the fun combat of <em>Bayonetta 2</em>. In its effort to add more historical periods and side features, <em>Assassin’s Creed</em> has lost what made it fun. The series is desperately in need of a reboot, a reassessment on the core of the game to find the real fun that the concept holds, not just throwing more side missions and gameplay modes to somehow make it better. And I dunno, as of writing, <em>Dragon Age: Inquisition</em> and <em>Far Cry 4 </em>are out, with <em>Smash Bros for Wii U</em> and <em>Pokemon Omega Ruby</em> and <em>Alpha Sapphire</em> coming out soon after. Hell, I’d much rather go back to <em>Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag</em> for the fun pirate ship gameplay. I’m at a loss to really want to recommend this game to anyone. Unless you really want to explore French Revolution Paris, or are a die-hard <em>Assassin’s Creed</em> fan, I would steer away. Hopefully Ubisoft doesn’t keep trying to push an annual entry in the series if this is all we’ll get.