The Road to Extreme (Raw Reactions April 20)

Raw, Wrestling
  • Randy Orton doesn’t have the charisma to pull off the “screw the Authority” character that Stone Cold Steve Austin played so well during the Attitude Era; however, when they let him loose like this, you can see a little Austin in the Viper. The unhinged Orton has always been his best character and it’s a shame that when they turn him into a good guy, they tend to go away from that. He needs that “eff everybody” attitude no matter which side of the equation he’s put on. The unpredictability of Orton is what makes him and letting him use that in his current face run is what’s getting him so over with the crowds.
  • Seth Rollins is so masterful as the cowardly heel that I’m starting to wonder exactly how they’ll pull off a future face run. He’s just so fun to hate that imagining a world where people cheer Rollins because they’re supposed is becoming increasingly hard. If and when he does make that turn, it seems like he’ll be set up as a Dolph Ziggler-like character. Both Dolph and Rollins can talk, but their promo skills seem better suited to a heel character, so they have to use their incredible wrestling ability to get over. I mean, when’s the last time we got a really good Ziggler promo during his current run? There just aren’t many of them anymore from @HEELZiggler and I can’t help but feel like that’s the direction Rollins will ultimately be forced to go.
  • Booker T is on point tonight. “Ambrose is uncontrollable, but he looks good while doing it”. I know I’ve spoken about it before, but its been awhile since I’ve mentioned how much Ambrose’s moveset fits his character. Some wrestlers just seem like they’re going through the motions and their matches don’t really fit with the character they’re building. Ambrose is the exact opposite of that. I can’t think of any other wrestler whose moveset is tailored to his character like Ambrose’s is. Seth Rollins deserves some credit for knowing how to tone down his acrobatics to suit his heel character, but no one is as good as Ambrose right now.
  • That was incredible. Even though they’re the hottest baby-face tag team on Raw with The Usos out from injury, the Lucha Dragons just aren’t ready for a title run. Plus, they’ve always been better chasing the belts and impressing the masses with their excellent in-ring ability. Kalisto, in particular doesn’t really make a great champion. They just look too beatable. It’s the same problem I always had with Rey Mysterio as a champion. Smaller guys make excellent title chasers, but they don’t often have great runs when they actually get those titles. Thus, putting over the New Day and finally giving them a much needed heel turn was probably the best move. I’m an unabashed New Day fan, so my opinion isn’t entirely without bias; that said, Xavier Woods put on a masterful heel performance tonight that rivals some of the best dirty managers in the business. He was great in his role and Big E continues to impress in all facets of the game. Kofi Kingston is probably the group’s weak link for me, but even he can do things in the ring that no one else can. Time will tell if they actually get a legitimate run as a heel stable; however, if booked correctly, I see big things for this threesome.
  • Fandango has his music back and that means he picks up a victory over Axelmania. It’ll be a long time before Johnny Curtis is ever taken seriously, but at least they’re letting him go over with his gimmick now.
  • Wait, what happens to The Miz if he loses his gimmick? Does he just immediately become Mike the Marine or does he become Mizdow and have to be The New Miz’s stunt double? There are so many unanswered questions, Maggle!
  • Kane was more interesting in that last segment that he has been in every other appearance from the last two or three combined. Kane’s impassioned outburst felt real and amplified his beef with Seth Rollins to the next level. That said, the bigger picture coming out of that segment is the continued teasing of serious strife between Rollins and The Authority. I still can’t pin down where they’re going with this, but, if tonight is any indication, it almost seems like The Authority are becoming the “good guys” in their “feud” with Rollins. I’m probably reading too much into this, but Triple H keeps deliberately stepping away from the “Choosen Future of the WWE” in a way that makes it feel intentional. Could they be hinting toward a Triple H face run or is the company just doing a better job of embracing the shades of gray in its storytelling. I’m hoping for the latter, but it’s an important detail to pay attention to as we move forward.
  • An RKO at catering? What is this 2003? YES! YES! YES! Oh, also a very meh Diva’s match. Save us Sasha!
  • Bo Dallas is probably never going to become a legitimate performer at this level of the WWE, but the guy does an admirable job of working his gimmick. He is just so good at making you love to hate him and he really knows how to work the crowd with a microphone in his hand. His work on the stick is so subtle, that it probably will never be recognized on the level that his brother Bray Wyatt’s is; however, in some ways he might be a better talker than The Eater of Worlds. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like they know what to do with him and he honestly might best served by going back to NXT and becoming a mainstay in their title division. He’s just too good of performer to be regulated to comedy status this early in his career. Come on Vince. If Roman Reigns can become a Boliever, then so can you!
  • I didn’t have high hopes for that segment when it started. There just aren’t many exciting matches involving Zack Ryder in the WWE. With that said, Sheamus was impressive throughout that match. He did an excellent job of getting his heel character over with the crowd and looked incredibly strong going into his match with Dolph Ziggler at Extreme Rules. Sheamus makes a better heel and it’s good that they’re finally going back to that. By putting him with someone like Ziggler, you’re going to really show off just how dominant and powerful he can be. Outside of maybe Seth Rollins, nobody can sell like Ziggler and he’s going to make Sheamus look stronger than the Big Show or Mark Henry on Sunday. This program is somewhat of a holding pattern for both guys, but they should both come out looking like a million bucks if the booking is right. From there, they can move Sheamus on to someone like Daniel Bryan, while Ziggler turns his attention to something like John Cena’s U.S. title.
  • Speaking of Cena’s U.S. title, the Doctor of Thuganomics’ Open Challenge continues to get more and more interesting as the weeks go on. We all knew that the chances of Cena dropping the belt before Extreme Rules were very unlikely, simply because the WWE loves to use that rematch clause built into every contract. That said, the caliber of opponents Cena has been facing each week has led to that title actually feeling like it means something. Plus, Cena is so over at this point that it doesn’t really matter what he does, so this is the perfect way to keep him from railroading the extremely crowded main event picture. That said, you have to wonder when someone will finally take the belt off Cena. I mean, that should signify a mega-push for whatever superstar manages to pull it off, which means the guy would have to be ready to compete in the main event the next day. My personal short list would have to be Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, and Finn Balor. Ambrose has been rumored to be getting a big-time push around Summerslam and having him take the title off of Cena at that show makes a lot of sense. Cesaro hasn’t been in the dirt sheet rumors, but he is one of the most talented individuals in the company. The WWE missed out on a big opportunity with the Swiss star after he won the Andre the Giant Battle Royale at WrestleMania 30, and it might be time to give him another try. He’s been impressive in the tag division with Tyson Kidd and you could easily see him being elevated to the title picture by the end of the year. Finn Balor is obviously the dark horse of these three, but, much like Neville, the WWE seems really high on this young gun and immediately putting a secondary title on him would demonstrate how seriously they take the man from Ireland. It’s easy to imagine Balor getting a full face paint debut at a major event like Summerslam and becoming one of the hottest stars in the company during the fall season.
  • Can Randy Orton just do this every week? It’ll be the newest drinking game. Take a shot every time the Viper hits an RKO or Rollins is seen watching him do it on a backstage screen.
  • Was that the end to The Miz and Mizdow angle? If so, that’s an extremely weak way of ending one of the more interesting feuds of 2015. Of course, the WWE continues to fail to deliver on mid-card feuds. Rollins-Ambrose stalled before it really got started (though that one was quasi-main event). The Dust Bros gave us a great tease at Fastlane, but that angle was dropped way too quickly. And now this. What’s the deal with taking all these great mid-tier feuds away from us and shoveling Big Show and Reigns garbage in its place? That feud is nothing and has been done before. Miz and Mizdow have worked for months to put together a story and it’s going to be dropped like this. It’s not quite the travesty that was Cody and Dusty not getting a Mania match, but it’s up there.
  • So, Bray Wyatt is losing to Ryback at Summerslam? That’s about all I got out of that promo. Wyatt talents are being completely wasted right now on terrible feuds that do nothing to advance his character or his career. At this point, I don’t even understand why he’s still getting TV time when they obviously don’t care about actually building him into a credible character.
  • Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins is one of those matchups that you think will produce a show-stealer every time they go out. Both guys are supremely talented and one would assume that their styles would mesh well. Unfortunately, when their matches are relegated to Raws both wrestlers are forced to tune it down and stay safe. These two need an elongated, two or three PPV program that lets them really go at each other to see what kind of wrestling-based feud Ziggler and Rollins can put on. It seems like the company doesn’t really trust Dolph as a champion, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be used to elevate Rollins as a performer. These two should be making gobs of money every time they wrestle, but they are instead hamstrung whenever they get a chance to show their stuff together.
  • That finish was being telegraphed all night and wasn’t the surprise they probably thought it would be. Contrary to what Michael Cole would have you believe, that RKO was out of somewhere. That said, it was a fun ending to an intriguing Raw.
  • Closing Thoughts: Tonight’s episode was kind of like a good episode of Lost. They answered a few questions we had, but they introduced about 20 more to ensure that no one would really know what was going to happen at Extreme Rules. There are so many moving parts right now and the roster is so loaded with talent that I legitimately have no idea where they are going. Depending on your perspective that could be a good thing or a bad thing. For my money, it’s good thing because uncertainty makes wrestling feel a little more real. When the outcomes are obvious, then the pre-determined nature of the business is that more apparent. When no one is completely sure what’s going to happen, then it’s a little easier to suspend your disbelief. The WWE has done a great job of putting together a solid Extreme Rules card that is basically just rehashing the major matches from Mania. However, unlike when we saw the same thing happen with TLC and Survivor Series, these matches actually feel fresh. Really, my only problem with this episode was the lack of Adrian Neville. That guy needs to be on TV every week. All in all, a quality go-home show that built up some solid intrigue for the weeks ahead.

GT….maybe later (NXT Reactions, April 8)

NXT, Wrestling
  • It’s surprising that they didn’t find a way to get this episode about the tournament leading into Hideo Itami’s inclusive in the Andre the Giant Battle Royale before WrestleMania, or at least have it air the week after the show. Additionally, I would’ve liked to see this tournament play out in its entirety instead of just seeing clips of the first round matchups. The contest between Finn Balor and Baron Corbin is particularly interesting because we have yet to really see Corbin be truly challenged. If anyone could get a good match out of Corbin, it’d be Balor and unfortunately, we didn’t get to see that. I suppose you could just go read the dirt sheets, but that just isn’t the same. At least we get to see the culmination of this tournament, and it should be a good one with Balor, Itami, Tyler Breeze, and Adrian Neville making up the Final Four.
  • Neville and Itami are showing off of exceptional technical mat wrestling tonight. That is obviously less important on the main roster; however, it’s something that a wrestler can break out every now and again to impress the hardcore fans. Neville’s interaction with the crowd is on point tonight. Again, that’s harder to do on a Raw or Smackdown given the size of the crowd, but it demonstrates that Neville now how to control a crowd. Itami is a little less effective (potentially due to the language barrier), but he’s still quickly improving; even with his limited mastery of the English language.
  • Neville did an admirable job playing the heel against Itami tonight and, even though it didn’t make much sense considering how hot Neville’s face character is on Raw, it worked within the confines of the match. Itami had to go over and had to be the face because he was playing up his connection to Tatsumi Fujinami who was going into the WWE Hall of Fame later in the week. Itami even broke out the Dragon Sleeper to great effect and did a great job of showing off that Japanese “Fighting Spirit”. If Neville finds himself on NXT TV in the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see if he continues to play heel; that said, this one was all about Itami. He delivered a big performance, setting up an epic showdown with either Finn Balor or Tyler Breeze in the finals of this tournament.
  • Even in NXT, BULLET CLUB IS REEEEEAALLL. Finn Balor is just too sweet, brother.
  • Tyler Breeze continues to be one of the better heels in the business. His in-ring work really shines in an environment like this one where you get to hear everything he’s saying. When he said to the ref “will you ask him please” and then said, “I can’t hear you!” I almost lost it. It’s subtle things like that that true all-time greats do. Balor also looked excellent and, as you can probably tell from above, I loved his subtle nod to the Bullet Club. I’m slowly getting deeper and deeper into NJPW and Balor’s old running mates are the biggest reason why. Both of these guys are going to be big time stars very soon, but I’m not sure if anyone in the company has the potential Balor does. If he isn’t main-eventing WrestleMania within two or three years, I’ll be very surprised.
  • As great as that match was, it’s hard to not be tired of Itami continuously teasing the GTS and never actually delivering. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a very minor quibble; however, something like this needs a pay-off and Itami has been doing this same thing for months. Are they holding onto this for a potential championship run or has it just gotten to the point where the actual moment has been built too big after the countless teasing? I’ve heard via the Internet that Itami hit the move at house in San Jose, but why not use it on TV and get the mega-pop it’s sure to draw [NOTE: they actually did show Itami hitting the GTS on a video package to end the show, but I still wonder if they would’ve been better served to let it happen on TV and not on a house show. The crowd would’ve been absolutely electric and that just didn’t get over in the video package]? It’s hard to say, but one thing is for sure, those NXT boys (and girls) know how to put on a match. At the end of the day, Itami, Balor, Neville, and Breeze delivered and hopefully some people in Stamford were watching.
  • Closing Thoughts: The show ended with a nice, long package about Itami’s experience at WrestleMania. There are rumors that Itami has struggled a little behind the scene as he picks up the language and learns the nuisances of American wrestling and I wonder if this whole thing was to try and get him over more. The WWE obviously had huge hopes when he signed and, for whatever reason, Itami has been unable to deliver at the same level as guys like Finn Balor and Kevin Owens, who debuted at roughly the same time as Itami. The WWE probably still sees him as a mega-star with the potential to really bring in fans in Japan. Therefore, Itami is going to be given every opportunity to make it. His WrestleMania moment was just the beginning of a great career with the WWE.

Rollins vs. Neville – FIGHT! (Raw Reactions April 6)

Raw, Wrestling
  • I’m not sure I understand the booking here. Seth Rollins took the belt off of Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania and then Lesnar got himself suspended by the WWE for injuring everyone in the stadium last week. Okay, that’s fine because now you can keep him off of TV until his eventual rematch with Rollins at Extreme Rules. Or at least that’s what I assumed would happen. However, we now have three other guys who could potentially get a shot at the title before Lesnar even returns to the ring. Shouldn’t the champion get the first opportunity to take back his belt? How does it make sense to let anyone but Brock have a match for the strap at Extreme Rules? If they continue along this path, is there any way that Rollins loses? The booking just doesn’t logically work. Plus, none of three potential opponents are really viable. Sure, Randy Orton beat Rollins at Mania, but he’s never worked well as a face and really needs to move on from this Authority storyline. Ryback makes the least sense and is just there for numbers; however, wouldn’t he be better utilized in an actual feud of his own? Roman Reigns probably has the best claim to a match with Rollins, since he was in the title match at Mania. That said, he’s largely been kept out of storylines since Mania and just doesn’t feel like he’s on the main event level now. Plus, he lost his shot at the strap. Why does he get another shot over someone new? It’s just lazy booking that is probably tied to Lesnar’s contract. It’s pretty sad that they aren’t able to tell an effective story simply because of their over-reliance on part-time talent.
  • Outside of the Big Show, Kane is by far the least interesting wrestler in the company today. His match with Orton did what it needed to do, but I could barely make myself watch. Kane is like a black hole for entertainment and he needs to move behind the scenes sooner rather than later.
  • Obviously, you’d prefer to see the WWE give AJ Lee an actual send-off for her retirement, but if the relationship is as strained as we’ve been lead to believe, than that was pretty classy of them. They acknowledged her work and thanked her for everything she did for the company. Hopefully the #GiveDivasAChance movement actually takes place in her absence. It’s a shame to see the changes not occur while she’s with the company, but it seems like they’re slowly moving that way. Maybe she can come back someday and put on a classic with Charlotte or Sasha Banks.
  • HERE WE GO! Neville vs. Rollins. This is what we’ve been waiting for ladies and gentlemen. I’m marking out so hard right now.
  • What an incredibly booked match by the WWE. There was no way Neville could go over on the champion after just debuting last week. It would’ve been too much, too fast for a guy who needs to build up his credibility over the next three or four months before challenging for a secondary strap. However, they gave Rollins and Neville time to put together one of the better Raw matches you’ll see. Tons of false finishes, countless incredible moves, and some great heel work by Rollins. The only negative is that we didn’t get to see Neville deliver the Red Arrow, which is the move that’s going to get him over. That said, the only way they could’ve gotten it in there was for him to hit it on one of the members of J&J Security, which could’ve messed with the flow of the contest. Therefore, I’m not too upset that Neville didn’t get to hit his signature move. I just can’t believe we got a match that good on a television show, let alone that it was between two former NXT champions. For this segment alone, it’s a great day to be a WWE fan.
  • I really hope this John Cena’s open challenge storyline is going somewhere besides just a rematch with Rusev at Extreme Rules. They need to let Cena hold the belt for three or four pay-per-views before finally dropping the belt to a newer Superstar. Personally, I would love to see Finn Balor debut at Money in the Bank and have a good showing in the titular match. From there, Balor would kick around for a few months, building the mystique and credibility of his character. Meanwhile, Cena continues his open challenge all way into Summerslam. Then, at the Barclays Center, Cena comes to the ring and tells someone to come and face him. Balor answers the call in full “demon” regalia and beats Cena in a 15-minute match that has potential to easily steal the show. Balor could get fast-tracked to the main event scene; however, I think, as one of the best workers in the company, he could be another fighting champion who continues to build the prestige of the U.S. title. That would make Balor a legitimate title threat by the Rumble and gives whoever holds the title at Mania 32 yet another quality opponent to potentially dance with.
  • The #GiveDivasAChance movement seems to actually be happening. I forgot to set my stopwatch, but that match felt like it went for a solid 10 minutes. That’s not something we saw often even just a few months ago and it’s really encouraging that the WWE seems to finally be realizing they have some really talented women both on their main roster and in developmental who won’t just be satisfied to serve as eye candy like so many Divas before them. My ultimate dream is for either Paige or Charlotte to dethrone Nikki Bella and reintroduce the current Divas title as simply the WWE Women’s Championship. It unequivocally sends the message that the WWE is going to take its women competitors seriously and could actually bring in a more diverse viewing audience.
  • That Ryback vs. Luke Harper match seemed pretty lackluster when you compare it to all of the matches earlier on the card. We know Harper can wrestle after his series with Dolph Ziggler last year, so you have to assume that, if anyone is the weak link, it has to be Ryback. He’s been with the company fro quite awhile and you’d hope he would’ve added some moves to his repertoire. Unfortunately, he’s still too much like a modern day Goldberg. He has two or three really impactful moves that he does well, but everything else is super sloppy. I like The Big Guy as a character, but he just has yet to take that next step as an in-ring performer. It’s quite possible that he never needs to given his look, style, and charisma; however, I really hope Ryback continues to push himself in the ring.
  • I have no idea where they are going with The New Day, but I know that I can’t wait to take this journey with them. They seem to be teasing a heel turn and, really, that’s where they should be going at this point. Here’s hoping we see them snap in the coming weeks leading up to Extreme Rules.
  • The Lucha Dragons are the best opponents for Cesaro and Tyson Kidd to face at Extreme Rules. The two teams styles play off each other well and Kidd is very familiar with Kalisto and Sin Cara from his time in NXT. Plus, an Extreme Rules style match suits both teams and should allow them to deliver an excellent curtain-jerker that really gets the crowd hyped. As much as I love The New Day, I don’t currently see a great spot for them on the Extreme Rules card unless the Lucha Dragons win the championship and New Day comes out to do a post-match beatdown and cement their heel status. Therefore, I think they continue to play games with The Primetime Players on Raw and Smackdown for the next few weeks and maybe make the pre-show.
  • This Austin, TX crowd seems oddly pro-Roman Reigns. Was his performance against Brock Lesnar good enough to get him over with the fans or is Austin just a casual fan city? Unfortunately, we won’t really know for a few weeks. Raw goes across the pond next week and UK crowds are traditionally anti-babyface. I expect that, no matter what the American response is to Reigns, the London crowd will boo him without mercy.
  • I have to give credit where it’s due. That was probably the best match Big Show has wrestled in the past four or five years. He gave Reigns a real beating and both competitors brought out moves that we don’t usually see from them. My only knock on the match is that Reigns needed to sell more. He still has that Cena quality about him where he gets his butt kicked for ten minutes and then just pops up like nothing happened. I’d like to see him struggle just a little bit more there at the end and really sell the damage Show did to him leading into his triple threat later in the show. That said, I can’t really nitpick too much because this match did exactly what it needed to and made Show look like an actual wrestler again. My hopes aren’t high that he can continue to perform at that level, but I was impressed.
  • Heel Sheamus is a big step-up from where this character was last year. Sheamus the cartoon character is so bland that it’s near impossible to root for him. Heel Sheamus can really bring the power and impact, which almost always leads to him actually having good matches. I don’t know if Ziggler is the best opponent for him to face (that’s Cesaro, but he’s busy at the moment), but he’ll do for now.
  • Bray Wyatt lost to Undertaker at Wrestlemania right? Isn’t that what happened? Because I’m pretty sure he just called himself the “new face of fear” even though he lost to the Dead Man. How does that even make sense? Wyatt is an amazing talker, but I’m becoming tired of him delivering master-class promos that don’t really lead to anything. When’s the last time this guy has won a feud? He just isn’t sufficiently believable as a competitor anymore and has quickly become one of the least interesting members of the Raw roster. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I would love to be proven wrong and for Wyatt to actually enter an interesting program with someone that actually sees him go over and legitimize his spot on the card. But until I see it, I can’t help but devalue all of Wyatt’s work.
  • It’s good that the WWE has the intelligence to hold onto Mizdow’s ultimate victory over the Miz until it can get its proper due at a PPV. I was a little worried that Mizdow was going to win that match on Raw and rob the company of big moment they’ll get when Mizdow eventually goes over. This feud fits into the Extreme Rules stipulation pretty well and I would be more than a little surprised if that match didn’t show up on that card very soon.
  • I said in the beginning that booking a title match without Brock Lesnar being involved felt pretty weak and that Triple Threat match didn’t do much to change my opinion. Sure, all three guys looked decent in that contest and Orton had to be the one to go over in that situation; however, it just doesn’t seem plausible that Rollins will lose his title before matching up with Lesnar, so this whole feud feels pointless. There is no logical reason for Rollins to lose here. He has to face Lesnar as the champion or the company is squandering a gigantic opportunity. It would make absolutely no sense, which makes this booking boring because the outcome is pre-ordained. The only way this feud gets interesting is if Lesnar shows up at Extreme Rules and kills everyone again. That’s the only way I can see this program being salvaged at this point.
  • Closing Thoughts: This was one of the best Raws I’ve seen in quite a while that was unfortunately bookended by some pretty questionable decisions. I just don’t understand why they would bother giving anyone a shot at Rollins before Lesnar gets his rematch. It makes no sense and leaves the end of Extreme Rules feeling pre-ordained (which to be fair, wrestling is always pre-ordaining, but its is at its best when you can’t predict what’s going to happen). That said, every match on the show tonight outside of Orton vs. Kane felt like pay-per-view quality matches and that Rollins vs. Neville match was something special. Heck, even the tag team and Divas’ divisions got some much-needed character development tonight and for once, it seems like the WWE is actually committed to telling more than one storyline. Of course, next week all of this will come crashing down as Teddy Long comes back to book a six-man tag match as the main event, while Paige and Nikki Bella have a “bra and panties” match. But for one shining week, Raw was good again. At this point, I’ll take whatever I can get.

Assassin’s Creed Unity Review

Reviews, Video Games

It’s fair to say that, reviewing Assassin’s Creed Unity when it came out last November and reviewing it now is a completely different experience. At launch, Ubisoft’s latest entry to their best-selling franchise was a buggy mess: full of poor framerate, terrible optimization, and a distressing amount of content locked behind secondary apps or microtransactions.

Today, almost all of those things are gone, and Unity is a much better game for it. If you tried this game out in the fall and hated it, it may be worth your time to come back and give it a second look. Unity still has some problems, but they’ve put in a lot of work post-release to really improve this product.

My biggest gripe with the previous-gen of Assassin’s Creed has been the lack of mission diversity. Everything felt too similar and that meant you had to repeat bad mechanics (see: tailing missions) over and over again, which just the lack of fun in those segments of the game.

In Unity, those missions are largely gone. Instead, most missions are open-ended assassinations that give you a large chunk of the game world to play around in. That style of mission means that everyone who plays will likely rack up their kills in different ways; however, I found that actually trying to sneak through sections and find the “unique kill” in each level was much more gratifying than just going in to kill everyone.

Of course, you could make the argument that your enjoyment of a game being tied to playing it a certain way means that the encounters are poorly designed. That’s certainly an argument I’d listen to and, in all honesty, I’d rather the next Assassin’s Creed be a streamlined single-player campaign that gives the player less choice and cuts out a lot of the filler side quests.

That said, the main campaign is, mechanically, a step up from past Creed games. Really, the only major problem with the gameplay is that, like every Assassin’s Creed game before it, Unity doesn’t control super well. In this year’s entry, they added parkour up and parkour down buttons, but that doesn’t do enough to fix the legacy issues.

Too often do you find yourself trying to jump to a certain place and your character simply won’t do it. It doesn’t’ sound like a big deal, but when most of the game consists of you using parkour to traverse the environment, it quickly becomes a major problem.

Narratively, Unity is largely derivative of past games in the series, which is to say, it’s nothing to write home about. On that same note, the Creed series has struggled to make a good main character since introducing Ezio, and the struggle sadly continues with Arno.

The characters around Arno are a little more interesting; particularly, Bellick, Elise, and Marquis de Sade. Plus, it’s always fun when you get to protect a historical stalwart like Napoleon Bonaparte from would-be attackers while he’s on a date with his mistress.

That said, no story ever gets the time needed to fully develop. There’s just so much going on that you can’t really focus on one story, which means they all suffer. Unity might be without a great story and it certainly possesses sometimes frustrating gameplay, but it sure does look pretty.

When everything’s going smoothly, there might not be better looking game on the PS4 than Unity. The facial animations alone will make you drool. There simply hasn’t been a PS4 game that does character models as good as these.

There are still some framerate slow-downs present and pop-in is a potentially huge problem. However, I just told myself that the pop-in was done on purpose to make the world feel like a simulation of Paris; playing into the over-arching narrative that you’re a descendent of Arno playing through his memories in a virtual reality simulation. I doubt that that theory is actually true, but it makes it easier to accept the pop-in and adds a level of subtlety that I really appreciate.

The last big thing to note in this game is the focus put on cooperative multiplayer modes in Unity. You can participate in either normal missions or heists with up to three friends. I didn’t do all of the available missions and I wasn’t able to play with people I know, but I enjoyed the time I put in.

The heists, in particular, are a solid addition to the game, and would, undoubtedly be better if you were playing with people you know. That said, the co-op missions are a fun diversion, but aren’t game-changing.

All of this adds up to a product that probably wasn’t worth the price of admission at launch (especially with the abundance of bugs and invasive tactics), but has become appealing at this point in its life.

The game is routinely going for under $30 at this point and it has 12-20 hours of good content. The majority of the major problems Unity had on release are gone and the total package is actually probably worth your time; especially if you enjoyed past Assassin’s Creed games, but wanted to see more varied mission structure.

Should you play it now? YES

I have to add the word “now” to my usual descriptor here because it’s important to acknowledge that this game was a complete mess at launch and needed quite a bit of work before it was worth your money.

Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable giving your hard-earned money to a company that so royally screwed up the launch of its flagship franchise, then I completely understand. That said, the game, as it stands right now, is a quality product that will bring you hours of enjoyment.

It’s a (Two out of Three Falls) Walk-Off (NXT Reactions April 1)

NXT, Wrestling
  • You have to wonder how long Sami Zayn will stay in NXT. On one hand, outside of his eventual rematch with Kevin Owens, there isn’t really a lot left for him to do. He’s built a solid character, become the NXT champion, and generally done everything someone would do before getting the call to the “big leagues”. However, is there a spot for Zayn’s character on Raw right now? He kind of fits into that Daniel Bryan mold of someone whose character is basically just “I’m really good at wrestling”, but without the addition of The Authority keeping him down because of his size. Obviously, if he moves to the main roster, he’s going to put on incredible matches that will make the hardcore fans happy. That said, where do they put him on the card and what feud do they introduce him with that doesn’t just relegate him to the mid-card? I’m not saying Zayn doesn’t have a chance; I’m just saying there doesn’t seem to be a place for him right now. It’s quite possible he’s better off staying in NXT and working with guys like Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, and Rhyno (what?) over going to Raw and getting into six-man tag matches until someone retires or he gets fed up and leaves.
  • I think I’m supposed to get the impression that Emma is trying to “bring out the aggression” in Bayley, but that just wasn’t conveyed very well. Bayley is just below Charlotte and Sasha Banks in terms of wrestling ability and we don’t usually see such sloppy matches from her. Which makes tonight pretty notable. Emma has some skill as well (though I’d put her firmly in the “C” tier), so you can’t just blame that all on her. That said, neither woman looked very good in that contest. They tried to tell a story, but it didn’t really come over and they focused so much on the story that their wrestling was sub-par. The good news is that it was so strange that I kind of want to see where this feud goes in the future. Does Emma continue trying to mess with Bayley or does she move onto another Diva? Will Bayley ever stop giving hugs? Why isn’t Bayley wearing AJ Lee’s shirt to return the favor? These questions and more will be answered in the near future.
  • Since their debut, Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy’s movesets have largely screamed face. They’re high-flying, high-impact with tons of energy. Unfortunately, outside of a spat with The Ascension, they’ve mostly been feuding with face teams like the Lucha Dragons and Enzo and Big Cass. Neither of those teams are currently set up to play heel, so it’s fallen to Murphy and Blake to be the “bad guys”. This week, they finally changed up their moveset to be a little slower and more powerful, adding a little cheating in for good measure. This is an important development for this team because they have no chance to get cheers over Zo and Cass, let alone the Lucha Dragons. If they’re going to make this feud work, Murphy and Blake have to leave behind their top-rope moves and become more deliberate with their in-ring work. Tonight was a good start; here’s hoping they continue down their current path.
  • I’m a big fan of Jason Jordan as a single’s competitor. He has the size and look to really be something in NXT. The aggression he demonstrated tonight was something that we needed to see from him after his split with Tye Dillinger. Jordan and Dellinger were always a moderately impressive team, but you could tell that, if his character took the next step, Jordan had much more potential. It would be smart to put Jordan in the Shoot Nation faction if they ever actually debut, as he would make an excellent “enforcer” for the group and legitimate ties with his amateur background. Jordan’s slams lacked impact tonight, but once he clears that up, he has a chance to be a main event level player in NXT.
  • Two out of three falls matches have never really worked for me. You almost never (ever!) see anyone win two falls straight, especially between two wrestlers embroiled in a long-lasting feud. So, the first two falls often seem pointless because you know that the only fall that matters is the final one. Thus, quite a bit of the drama the wrestlers are trying to convey falls flat in the early going. Hideo Itami wins the first fall and now we’re supposed to be worried that Tyler Breeze might just lose two straight. But we know that that never happens, so that early concern means nothing. With that said, Breeze and Itami put together a compelling third fall with quite a few exciting near-finishes. It remains to be seen if these two will continue their program, but I think it would be an excellent idea. Itami and Breeze’s high-impact styles mesh well together and Breeze is the second best talker in NXT (after Enzo, of course), so he can carry the story while Itami gets his English up to snuff. With the championship scene becoming so crowded of late, this feud might be the best option for both men. I’d like to see this program continue through the next NXT Live special and then have Itami challenge for the NXT title after Sami Zayn (and maybe Finn Balor) move to the main roster. Breeze could also challenge for the strap; however, his program with Kevin Owens isn’t as ready made. They could go with the angle that Breeze is prettier than Owens, but I’d rather they come up with something better than that. A program between Breeze and Solomon Crowe is more interesting to me once Breeze and Itami are finished.
  • Closing Thoughts: This certainly wasn’t a bad NXT. Itami and Breeze had a very good match that went past my personal expectations for a two out of three falls match. These two could go against each other for another month or two and I wouldn’t be upset. Bayley and Emma’s match was sloppy and the story they were telling didn’t really get over. In the tag team division, Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy were much better as heels this week than they have been in the past. Their movesets were slower and more power based, which worked well against the Lucha Dragons. Finally, Jason Jordan looked like the real deal tonight and has potential to be a real player on NXT. All in all, this weekly episode of NXT had some solid wrestling with little-to-no real storyline development. Hopefully that returns next week.