Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – Anything is better than Unity – Xbox One Review!
It’s that time of year again when our wallets and purses are left crying in the corner of the room, vacant and hollow – AKA: The greatest time of year for gamers. Triple A titles are raining down on us and today we start this with the first entry, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
Follow in on from the resounding success of Unity *cough*, Ubisoft continue the annual outing with Syndicate. Based in London in the late 1800’s we join Jacob and Evie Frye. Assassin twins with no direct connection to those from previous iterations but raised by an assassin family. Their mission is to remove the tyranny of the Templars from London and finish the grand master Starrick for good…So like every other game. In the current time line, we are back with Shaun trying to find another precursor artefact. Just this time we watch them through some floating camera drone cut scene that does nothing to progress the story or add anything vaguely interesting. It seems as if Ubisoft needed some sort of validation about what they were doing so they can keep this train a’rollin’. So, here we have it. A linear story with the same formula, rinse and repeat. Its alright if you ignore the simple changes that have gone into creating it. Like CIA black ops files, there are thick black lines over names and places and then Ubisoft takes it, rolls a dice and there you have it, your characters and location done. We’ve seen as of late that they’re picking up on this and are trying to diversify gameplay to reinvigorate the fan base. We see with Chronicles: China that they’ve been struggling to maintain the hype that was once reserved for their epic Ezio cut scene trailers layered with staggering music by now switching the gameplay dramatically to a stealth based platform/side-scroller. However, Syndicate hasn’t done anything new. In all honesty, its actually removed one of the more popular mechanics which was the sailing (don’t lie, everyone loved sailing the seas and blowing shit up in their OP boats). Understandably boating in London in the late 1800’s isn’t that easy but they have worked on liberation of rival camps and regions with your trusty rope launcher. That’s fun. Liberating an entire borough on London of its Templar/Blighters gang ends with a big brawl between you, your crew, the Blighters/Templars and the areas boss, unless you’ve already chased them down and spread them across the pavement with your carriage. Roughly 10vs10, the fight can end very quickly if you’re quick to catch the leader prior to the fight. Constantly upgrading and crafting new weapons and tools means you’re almost always ahead of them in fire power, most notably gun wise.
As ever, combat within the AC universe has always been extremely fun and violent. Finishers and multi-kills are now even more brutal which also intelligently use the wider environment to pierce your enemy to the wall or make them into your newest desk accessory. Multi-kills aren’t very often and require a setup so they don’t become tiresome to watch or do and the general assassinations are fantastic. Kicking the shit out of people is just so fun but every action seems to be a some super human speed that is impossible to achieve with such weaponry. However, it seems that every police officer, Templar and gang member knows the main characters. So the super secret assassins of the secret order are known by everyone in London and their hideout is as subtle as a streaker at Sunday Mass. This winds me up to no end. You cannot walk though a neighbourhood without drawing the attention of 20 people, murdering them and moving on rapidly only to get caught out again a few blocks down the road. Any reason to beat the shit out of someone I guess. Yet we do not have a non-lethal way to progress. If an objective says not to kill a police officer, I have to kidnap them individually and knock them out away from all their friends one by one. I’m sure if you have the patience to do it meticulously, you’ll find some way of bullshitting it but if you’re like me, flooding a quarter of London in Templar blood was far more appealing. I tell you what is not appealing though, the shitty boss fight at the end which is a simple sequence motion that is repeated 3 or 4 times with slight variations with an illogical starting point for the character in relation to the cut scenes. Now here is the real kicker, its not too buggy. I had my fair share of bugs the crashed my game, killed me and made progress through zones very difficult. One of those is when you enter combat and all attacks to nothing. You run about trying to get hit but you can’t do anything to stop it. Then we have the various audio bugs that didn’t sync with the on screen animations and the invisible enemies that you’ve managed to morph with the wall. But, nothing game breaking and in regards to Unity, that’s a winner.
Visually the environment was stunning. Landmarks and set pieces looked amazing and a certain WW1 memory sequence created some even more amazing pieces and interactions. Now, I play on an Xbox One, the lower spec of the next gen consoles and I’d presume that my experience is far less than that of the PS4 in comparison. Character variation was good but the city is so big, you see many of the same people hanging around and you’ve probably killed the same guys over and over. My only gripe visually is fluidity. Anything the characters touch that isn’t their uniform is stiff, like cardboard and the hair isn’t even smooth, in fact you can visibly see the pixels that make the strands of Evie’s hair. Its nice to see a female character in the main character slot but other female characters that originated in the gangs that were heads of the groups felt as if they were trying too hard to appeal to that section and really impacted the reality of what women actually had to fight for. The aim to put female characters in the games are fantastic moves, especially in the Creed and the Templars but the general gang populace, it wasn’t that way and feels more like pandering to the extreme voices. We do get a cheeky mention of women’s rights in the bonus WW1 mission which was very amusing and actually addressed the situation in a historical aspect that doesn’t shun the past but brings light to the horrors of the past. By all means, I don’t believe the games to be 100% historically correct but it brushed the social issues of the time under the rug by acting like it never happened and created an idealistic image in a fairly distopian story that still shows children being worked to the bone by factory bosses.
I wouldn’t say I come into the AC universe to see the best voice actors in the industry create art but the script needs to match with facial movements and convey the correct emotions where necessary but often enough Evie’s mouth moved very little and emotion was lacking, but in all fairness, the stories and characters weren’t so engaging that you could immerse yourself into the world and feel for the characters. Some felt rather attached to the sibling disputes while I felt them more of a nuisance and that the relationship wasn’t explored enough to get a solid grasp of who these people are, its only towards the end of the game that we actually hear any mention of their parents real names and a history on them but still nothing on our protagonists apart from the fact that Jacob smashes shit up, Evie fixes it. It felt more like a big blockbuster action movie that priorities excitement and general fun over script, dialogue and character depth and if I’m honest, I’m okay with that. Its been fun and I will certainly be going back to experience some more of the extra missions, potentially more WW1 missions and generally beating the shit out of people. How is that not fun!?
Worth the pick up – 7/10
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Posted on 29/10/2015, in Games, Reviews and tagged 1868, 2015, Assassins creed, England, entertainment, Evie Frye, game, gaming, Jacob Frye, london, review, Spoilers, Starrick, syndicate, Templars, ubisoft, United Kingdom, World War 1, xbox one, youtube. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.