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Arts in Review

The Ubisoft façade is crumbling

It’s sometimes difficult to be a fan of a drawn-out series. It’s even more difficult to be a supporter of the company that produces said content.

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By Jeremy Hannaford (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: November 19, 2014

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It’s sometimes difficult to be a fan of a drawn-out series. It’s even more difficult to be a supporter of the company that produces said content. We all make up excuses like “it’s different this time around,” or “I’m really in it for the story,” or the typical “I had nothing else to play.”

There are certain instances where companies have carried out this process without offending the fans’ intelligence or their wallets. 343 Industries has done this by providing the HD remastered versions of the Halo series. The recent Halo 2 anniversary edition is a prime example of great fan-service.

But the idea of fan-service seems to have totally escaped other companies’ minds. One of these companies is Ubisoft.

Their Assassin’s Creed series is a series some gamers can’t be bothered with, considering its lack of true ambition in many of its titles. I myself have been drawn to the series for its connection to important moments of history. There have been some let-downs from time to time, but after playing Black Flag for hours on end, my hope in the series had been rekindled.

That is, until Unity came out and completely buried that hope in a deep dark cavern from whence it may never return.

Unity is more of a disappointment than the grueling AC3 ever was. Unity’s story is a dumbed down version of Ezio’s first entry; the combat has somehow become even more dumbed-down than ever thought possible, and the technical side of the game is an absolute mess. Unity does have its strengths; the game looks fantastic when it wants to and the building-traversing is the best in the entire series. But these do not excuse the plethora of issues this game shouldn’t have. What is truly damning about Unity is the fact that it represents the final deteriorating piece in the Ubisoft façade.

In his article published in Forbes.com last week — entitled “Congratulations Ubisoft, You’re the New EA” — Paul Tassi listed the lies or failures the company had produced in this year alone. Those items include the falsified graphic resolution of the ultimately unremarkable Watch Dogs, Ubisoft’s stipulation that no review of Unity was to be released until 12 hours after the game’s launch, and the decision to have Unity run at 30 frames-per-second for a more “cinematic” experience. The latter two are prominent issues with Unity, as the game is riddled with glitches and frame-rate issues — it has the look of a game released too early.

These acts are inexcusable for a company that has supposedly put so much into its products. Black Flag looked like a step in the right direction, with not only a different AC experience but also a means of asking about the player’s experience after every mission. But these supposed attempts at listening to the players has all been tarnished by Unity’s release.

But Ubisoft isn’t the only company to have let down their fans this year. They just so happen to be the latest entry in the avalanche of failed launches and products. Drive Club’s online issues are still present three weeks after its launch; Destiny wasn’t the be-all, end-all of games; and GTA V’s highly anticipated multiplayer heists have yet to arrive, despite the game being over a year old. But it doesn’t create any sort of excuse for Ubisoft. This company once had a great image and a great line of games. Now upcoming games like Far Cry 4 or the Division are at risk of also being half-baked products. If Ubisoft continues this behaviour, they will never regain the credibility that they once had, and will suffer the wrath of angry internet nerd attacks, like EA has for the past several years.

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