Ubisoft has long been a publisher of diversity, when including games like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed in your stable alongside titles like Rayman and Just Dance, you’ve earned that distinction. Ubisoft has proven that 2014 would be no slouch for the amount of high caliber titles they had coming, and the consumer is the benefactor.
This year Ubisoft used that diversity of the stable to put out a breadth of content that truly any gamer can find a few gems within. The Assassin’s Creed series recently saw two more entries with Rogue for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, while Unity makes it’s Xbox One and PlayStation 4 debut. Both games were reviewed well and received generally well, offering two distinct experiences for the series fan. Keeping with the mature themes, Ubisoft also brought us titles like South Park: The Stick of Truth, Far Cry 4, and the upcoming visceral racer, The Crew. All the aforementioned games have garnered positive remarks and stick out as shining examples that Ubisoft knows what they’re doing when bringing quality to bear.
As mentioned, diversity was key for Ubisoft in 2014, and that means we were treated to some absolutely delightful, artistic, and just plain fun games as well. Child of Light, Rayman Legends, Valiant Hearts, Just Dance 2015, and Shape Up serve to round out an incredibly differentiated portfolio, and all prove great palette cleansers from AAA shoot-em up games.
‘Shape Up’ aims to get you off the couch, and make fitness fun
Shape Up aims to fill the shoes of fitness trainer and motivator. Using the new Kinect on
Xbox One, players take part in fun challenges, shoot for goals, and try to beat their trainers in games that range from pushups with elephants on your back, to fast feet on a giant keyboard. Tom Hanks would be jealous (please stop and go rent Big if you didn’t get that reference).
Challenge yourself and friends to daily games and goals in order to get your heart pumping and impress your digital trainer, both of whom always have words of encouragement to keep you going.
Shape Up is taking fun and fitness by the proverbial horns and treats them as things that can go together while getting results. The fun 8-bit style and upbeat presentation throughout are sure to get your family moving and sweating before you realize that a video game just made you work out!
‘Rayman Legends’ proves fun, style, and design are all game needs to be a blast
If there is one platformer that you absolutely cannot miss having on your PS4 or Xbox One, it’s got to be Rayman Legends. Back in 2013, this was arguably the best platformer we’d seen in years and Ubisoft felt it deserved a second life on new-generation platforms.
Running at a crisp 60 frames per second and a gorgeous 1080p, Rayman Legends on the new-generation of consoles is absolutely stunning. The world is crisp, detailed and more alive than on the previous generation of systems.
The PlayStation 4 has done a fine job of embellishing upon Rayman Legends’ experience. Remote Play is an uncanny match for this platformer and translates nicely over to the PS Vita. While some shooters and open-world games don’t play as well on the Vita, Rayman is a perfect fit.
Lucky Tickets are another fun feature for Legends. This feature is a sort of scratch game where players use the touch pad on the DualShock 4 to see what type of bonus they have won. Those can range anywhere from additional Lums to brand-new creatures.
Achieving VIP status is yet another standout feature for the new-generation version of the game. This is something only the most dedicated Rayman players will earn. Once you do achieve this status, you will be rewarded with the coveted character, Champion Ray.
Overall, Rayman Legends is undoubtedly the best platformer available for the PS4 and Xbox One. If you’re looking for a Mario-caliber experience on the new-generation of consoles, simply put, there is no other choice.
‘The Crew’ puts you behind the wheel, and gives you an open world USA to cruise
The Crew centers around a plot to take down a notorious Detroit gang brought up from illegal street racing. Your job is to grow your rep and respect through the underground racing scene to take them out. The Crew features a fully open world United States to cruise across, so if you feel like a trip from NY to LA, go for it!
Set in a persistent world, the game gets its title from the ability to build your crew of up to four by jumping in and out seamlessly. One mission may find you evading the police, while the next has you flying through a cornfield with reckless abandon.
The Crew features name brand cars across a ton of makes and models, and for the gearheads, features an in-depth tuning and cosmetic customization option. If you’re looking for a more arcade-centric thrillfest, you’d be hard pressed to find a better game than The Crew to get your blood pumping.
The Crew sees it’s full retail release on December 2.
‘Just Dance 2015’ brings the jams, you bring the moves, maybe
Just Dance 2015 is simply put, a blast to play, and never boring to watch your friends show off their moves. With bright, colorful, and fun video segments leading in to each dance number, Just Dance 2015 takes what worked well in the past, refines it to a great concentrate, and even expands to a world dance party!
Just Dance 2015 not only benefits from some of the latest hits you hear every day, but reaches back to get some great jams like the Tetris theme song, which is near impossible not to have fun while dancing to. Notable pop hits like Just Dance queen Katy Perry make appearances, Iggy Azalea, and much more await your boogie shoes in this entry.
Production values are top notch, as the videos are fun to watch for those not dancing, and up to four people can dance at the same time. The previously mentioned Tetris segment gets a little dicey with four people, but who isn’t going to at least try it?
Just Dance is one of the best party games out there, and even if your friends don’t want to dance, they’ll want to watch you attempt it. This one is also a great holiday game to play with the family or keep the kids busy, as everyone thinks they are great dancers when they’re alone. Just be careful not to hit the share button too often, or do, that’s on you.
‘Far Cry 4’ lets you catch the chill, chase the thrill
Far Cry 4 is one of the best in the series, taking us to the new locale of Kyrat in the Himalayan mountains, we are Ajay Ghale. We find that our mother is dead and upon landing that the land of our heritage is near enslaved by the maniacal Pagan Min. Min is simply put, one of the best villains in any game to date, and deserves your attention as a game goes.
We find ourselves jumping, running, shooting, flying, and probably falling through the tree lines and roads of Kyrat, and no doubt you’ll find plenty to do in the way of side missions. Hunting, ever the outdoorsmans endeavor, serves up new wildlife, and for some reason Ubisoft thought there weren’t enough things that could kill you in Far Cry 3.
Far Cry 4 also gives us an extremely apt cooperative component that is sure to keep you and your buddies entertained for a long time to come, if nothing else to try to capture outposts in more and more ridiculous manners.
Be sure to take a look at our full review of Far Cry 4.
‘Assassin’s Creed Rogue’ gives us the shanties and shenanigans on the high seas we love
Assassin’s Creed Rogue tells the tale of Shay Patrick Cormac, an Irish pirate and member of the Brotherhood of Assassin’s who finds himself at odds with a few missions he’s sent on. After taking out a few weak and old men that can barely defend themselves, Cormac decides there must be a better way. The tale told in Rogue might not win BAFTA or Oscars, but it’s entirely serviceable and able to get us back on the high seas after the excellent Assassin’s Creed Black Flag.
Back are the epic ship to ship, and ship to fortress battles, new are things like icebergs you can fire at to sink or damage other vessels. The setting of the North Atlantic and North American corridors is familiar, but not so much so that it bores or gets stale. We quickly find that the chill of winter is around us at all times, and our task is to get out there and plunder.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue introduces a few new small elements, but largely serves as another great pirate game. Not much more, not much less, and it’s great option if you’ve the need for a gift and your recipient hasn’t made the jump to Xbox One, PS4, or a high end gaming PC just yet.
Check out our full review of Assassin’s Creed Rogue.
Seek revenge, rebellion in ‘Assassin’s Creed Unity’
Assassin’s Creed Unity gives us a unique glimpse into a time that some of us may have thought would be a funny fit for such a game. As the Xbox One, PC, and PS4 only version, our new shiny toys are put to the test as the immense crowds of rebellion are rendered on screen in great detail.
Unity does a great job of using more horsepower in ways that aren’t immediately apparent. Small things like multiple interiors of buildings that are ready to explore instead of scripted run-thorough events, or the immense detail in Notre Dame, or people on the street who legitimately look like they have purpose serve to immerse the player in France and her people’s struggle.
While Unity has been met with some controversy regarding glitching and other issues, we didn’t experience those issues and it seems as though most are somewhat hit and miss for some folks. While the higher profile glitches are a bit hilarious, Ubisoft has taken to live updates on the situations and continually communicating the updates. With this in mind, it should serve to note that while it’s possible you’ll have an issue or two, Ubisoft is on the case and has not moved on.
Unity also has so many side activities that the intrepid assassin is sure to have more than enough to do, sometimes maybe so much so that your radar is full of side missions, co-op missions, and much more.
Assassin’s Creed Unity tells the story of Arno, an assassin by birth, and his forbidden lover Elise, a Templar. This story angle and mechanic serve up an interesting story arc, we meet some fascinating characters, and the revenge we seek is sweet satisfaction. Assassin’s Creed Unity is certainly one to check out, and while it may not be to everyone’s taste, it is indeed a very solid Assassin’s Creed game.
Check out the full review for Assassin’s Creed Unity.
‘Watch_Dogs’ lets you take back Chicago from the grasps of surveillance and corruption
Perhaps a commentary on the NSA surveillance and security breaches, Watch_Dogs sees us as Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker who pulled himself out of not-so-legal doings to live a normal life. That is until the ones he holds close get hurt. Forced back in to the world of hackers and thieves, Pearce goes on to utilize ctOS, Chicago’s surveillance and control system to manipulate the world around him.
Watch_Dogs does a few unique things and really lets you control engagements with enemies in very cool ways. If you want to approach guns blazing, by all means, Watch_Dogs will allow you to go all out. But the real fun comes in hacking cameras, explosives, barriers, and even forklifts to distract, disarm, and harm your enemies. It’s entirely possible to get through engagements without truly engaging enemies, and entirely fun to try.
Watch_Dogs also is one of the first to integrate a seamless multiplayer experience wherein you can get hacked by an anonymous player. Tracking their location and being close to them produce some scenes of real tension, perhaps a little frustration, but overall a real sense of “I gotta find this guy”. Even more fun is being on the other end and invading other players games, shutting off the van you stole a few minutes earlier and watching the other player skitter around feverishly looking for you. At times, passing only feet in front of your car before running off, or perhaps blasting a few shells through the window as you speed off. These are the emergent and awesome moments in Watch_Dogs you can count on, and never replicate with 100% accuracy.
On the whole, Watch_Dogs is a great experience that you are certain to find some great deals on this holiday season, and worth your time if you need something to get through the winter drought.