As I was playing Assassin's Creed Unity, cutting about the Notre Dame like some rouge stabby hunchback, I remarked to the member of the dev team stood next to me that the architecture of Paris is a perfect fit for the series. Unlike, say, Boston. Our man was seemingly unamused, but the point stands: this is the most interesting Assassin's Creed game since the third entry, and most of that is down to not only the much-improved aesthetics (which I'll get to in a moment) but also to the world which they depict.
If you saw the demo at Microsoft's conference, you'll know that the developer is pushing its crowd tech, with Ubisoft claiming there'll be 3,000 AIs in the world for you to shove past like the world's most irate tube passenger. But it's not just the macro scale that impresses: like The Division, Unity is crammed with incidental detail, made real through high-res textures, good art design, and a large draw distance. Water pools in the streets, individual roof tiles are missing or broken, half-torn propaganda posters are trampled underfoot: there's stuff everywhere, and not only does it give the impression that the world is lived in as opposed to it being a gleaming set, it also tells us that this place is going to the dogs.
The standard mission loop seems the same - go here, kill this person, get out - but now your character is a lot more agile. Holding RT and B will see them get down to ground level in the quickest way possible. Rather than just jumping off of a building or slowly edging down, this now means that assassins can leap down onto beams and other protrusions, descending at speed without the need for a hay bale. Ascension, too has been improved, with powerful jumps and wall runs launching your man onto the walls and rooftops of Paris.
Other elements weren't quite as polished - combat still seems rather stilted, with enemies attacking one at a time like some sort of Revolutionary A-Team spin-off - but this short demo gave a glimpse into the potential Unity has. If it can work on its AI and mission variety - two famous Creed failings - then this could be a real return to form. As it stands, it's a good first showing.