written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
What should have been a fun gaming experience was marred with game breaking glitches and horrendous but oft hilarious bugs. What was originally part of the season pass was now given to all who purchased Assassin's Creed: Unity for free. So what does this new adventure hold in store for Arno and company?
This chapter opens with Marquis de Sade contacting Arno in regards to a mysterious artifact buried among the tombs of France's dead kings. This takes the now master assassin to Saint Denis and in a surprising turn of events takes our French assassin to some of the darker parts of France... primarily the underground parts.
Fans of Ezio's tale remember the moments he not only ascended tall Italian buildings, but also channeling his inner Lara Croft traversing underground crypts. This was something Arno's tale sorely lacked... and something "Dead Kings" finally brings to next-gen.
The first point I feel the need to embellish on is how the game's polish has dramatically improved, thanks to a good three-some-odd months worth of patches. Frame rates improved dramatically and the game-breaking glitches are all but gone. This is the game we should have had at launch, finally becoming something I expect from a AAA experience.
The strongest element of "Dead Kings" has to be exploring dark crypts, this stark change in scenery takes Arno away from the majesty of Revolutionary France and plops him into dark caves and tombs, forcing him to use his assassin training to unlock all the secrets of every underground corner of Revolutionary France. From jumping to climbing, unlocking the secrets requires a certain finesse with controlling Arno, while not incredibly difficult, the puzzles did serve as a challenge outside of combat.
The weakest point is the main story; like every other game in the series, this chapter focuses on chasing down a Piece of Eden, artifacts from the First Civilization that hold unimaginable power. While on his search, Arno is forced to stay one step ahead of Napoleon Bonaparte as the French General is also searching for said powerful artifact. The story felt cut and paste AC in every regard, powerful historical figure on the hunt for said all-powerful artifact while time period appropriate assassin attempts to stay a few parkour steps ahead. It's not a bad approach but formulaic nonetheless.
Gameplay is exactly the same with two new pieces of equipment joining Arno's arsenal. The Guillotine Gun serves as a heavy hitting projectile you can use a heavy hitting bladed club, more so for traversal you're given a lantern that mostly serves as lighting dark corridors and scaring away creepy crawlers from things you gotta hang on to. Using the Guillotine Gun is a delight and feels almost unfair when in the middle of battle. When you aren't bashing heads with it, it serves as a mobile mortar that devastates whatever's in our hero's sights.
Though seriously lacking in the story department, gameplay is still fun and the addition of a new piece of armament makes for a satisfying added punch. "Dead Kings" makes for a fun addition, even if it doesn't bring anything really new to the table. It was a fun romp, but the controversial launch has marred what could have otherwise been a memorable game.
+ Underground gameplay is a delight
+ The Guillotine gun
+ It's FREE!
- Weak story
- Launch controversy still fresh
Story 2/5: A weak narrative doesn't add much to the already weak narrative of the core game...
Graphics 5/5: The half point I cut from the core game review is given back thanks to fixed glitches...
Audio 4/5: Just as good as the core game...
Level design 5/5: The above ground parts continue to be just as strong while the underground gameplay added a strong addition to the gameplay.
Polish 4/5: The polish is finally there
Controls 3.5/5: Though the gameplay is arguably dated, controls felt snappy and Arno controlled well. The improvements to free running were greatly needed.
Gameplay 4/5: Though gameplay is dated, the addition of new weapons and the underground puzzles improve the core gameplay dramatically.
TL;DR: Finally patched and well worth the romp... though with it being free, why wouldn't you play it?