Assassin’s Creed series video games have become an annual release. They have been for a while, but now it seems that negativity has been associated with it. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, and Assassin’s Creed Unity both failed as ‘great’ AC games as far as popular opinion goes, with Black Flag not feeling Assassin-like at all, with all the ship gallivanting and all; and Unity failing its high-potential cooperative mode.
Along with this somewhat dreaded yearly release schedule, we see fans becoming sick and tired of doing the same thing over and over again: Trail target after some cut scene. Get an area to where they stop without being detected by them. (Now for the variability) Eavesdrop on the group or kill all enemies in area. If Eavesdrop, stay in range for X amount of time then end up killing everyone anyways and ending up having to hide. If to kill all enemies, end up running away.
So with all this negativity surrounding the series, hopeful fans still grasp their hearts and hope that Syndicate will bring back what fans love–originality. But before we get too far, I want to disclose that I am unbiased towards the franchise. I don’t mind the somewhat narrow gameplay because it’s a novelty to me–it’s a staple in the face of first-person shooters saying, “Ha! We don’t need your silly gun-clogged screens to make a AAA title people soak up every year!” And I like that. But I haven’t been playing the recent games for the single player as much. Yes, I play and beat the single player, achieving 100% Synchronization, but the heart of the games for me lies in the multiplayer, which I will get to later in Syndicate. I loved seeing my gamertag reach the top of the ladders again and again over the Xbox’s (Both systems) and PC’s servers. In fact, the multiplayer gameplay itself was amazing. The whole concept. The intensity. It’s something Call of Duty, Halo, and other games fail to do for me. And I play them competitively, so that’s saying something.
So without further bantering by me, I’m going to get right to the chase and tell you what Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is offering players and why it is a good or bad thing.
In the gameplay walkthough video posted by Assassin’s Creed which was first showcased in Europe, we are notified that the map itself is 30% bigger than any other Assassin’s Creed game, which doesn’t mean any, it means the last, so, Unity. I know, I know, I know what you’re saying. “But Tyler, bigger map doesn’t mean better story!” And this is where I bring up my next point. Bear with me people.
Yes, the other games had a story, and yes, most were good, some just shat on all the lore previous games had built up to in the meta narrative *stares at Assassin’s Creed 3*.
But Syndicate is going to be great, and I’ll tell you why. First, Ubisoft has announced two playable protagonists–not one in-animus and one ‘real life’ person, but two in-animus. Although gameplay (as far as I know) has only been released for the one character, Jacob Frye, I assume that the other player is his twin sister (Whose name escapes me as I jot this down). which explains how Ubisoft managed to get away with the double-protagonists–technically Desmond’s memories would only be from one, as they (hopefully) don’t bear child with each other, but it brings in the play that if two identical twins have children with two other identical twins, that those kids would be genetic siblings. Who knows, maybe our two heroes have kids with other twins. Let’s not get into that detail.
But thinking about it, the fact that in-gameplay, Jacob only had the one hidden blade on his left arm, and his twin had the other, explains that there was only one pair of blades and they both split it. So, to help the in-game story, we have alot of in-game lore about our protagonists alone.
The story itself is…well…a normal story but gives the player incentive to play not just for gameplay, but to kick templar butt. The templars basically own London and that’s a bad thing. Their intentions? Bad. Bad templars *scolds like one would scold a dog*. So naturally the twins want to liberate London, and unlike other games, it’s against all odds. Sure, the templars always seem to outdo and outnumber the assassins, but now the Templars have oodles of minions under gangs, under gang leaders, under templars. So naturally fighting for people’s favour and kicking templar gangs out is going to be difficult and time-consuming, especially given the extra 30% of map we’re told we have.
But how can I guarantee you that the story will be good? It pains me to tell you why, but I really don’t have another choice.
They cut out multiplayer.
When I heard this it broke my heart. I loved the multiplayer and although joining sessions was a pain in the rear, it almost always paid off. But no more multiplayer means the developers don’t waste time on the more public-selling side–it shows us now they aren’t in it for the money, they don’t want to milk the franchise–they are in it for us, the fans. They listened to us. We said, “Don’t make it shite!” and they said, “Sure thing, we’ll get right on that!” with a straight smile. Ubisoft is good that way, just like Microsoft (excluding Kinect, that’s my next post, by the way).
So they took a whole portion of what has become the staple of the gaming industry in order to make this Assassin’s Creed live to the people’s standards, and you better damn well be happy.
2. New Gameplay Elements.
When I first saw the grappling hook/hookshot/rope line, whatever you want to call it, I frowned. Literally. I thought it took the suspense away of fleeing pursuers or the enjoyment of finally climbing that damn tall tower to get that last synchronization point. But after learning of the events making the map bigger, and analyzing the actual height of most in-game buildings, I have to say, this tool will be a godsend, and in reality, we’ll probably only unlock it about halfway through the game, as not to be complete n00b. Not only because it will save time, but because it adds a whole new set of potential activities, and it sure adds new ideas for achievements and kills. Think with me here (none of these are confirmed, just a ‘now we could have’ kind of thoughts) they could bring back races in a new and exciting way, catching couriers wouldn’t be a pain, zipline to kill (confirmed), and using it mid combat for combos (confirmed) would all be freaking awesome.
New combat method. Now for those who watched the pre-alpha gameplay and thought, “How the Hell are we supposed to know when to counter?” Remember–that was pre-alpha gameplay. I can’t stress to you enough how early on that is. They didn’t have a UI, or most intractable highlights, and the eagle vision sucked too–but think of it this way. A GIF of a video is nowhere near the quality of the video, it’s just an easy, low-data way of streaming video. Now use that analogy here. Pre Alpha is the GIF–it’s rough, edgy, and not complete. The final game is the dozen hour long 4k video of a rainbow with exploding unicorns and flying turtles in all their gloriousness. In other words, don’t worry about the combat they have shown in any cinematic or gameplay showing–it will be different by release.
But screw worrying, Jacob’s combos and quick actions look super awesome! Brass knuckles, sword cane, and a single hidden blade mean that all new actions can be taken to brutally beat your foes into oblivion. So, don’t expect a recycled animation, or, at least, don’t expect to see them alot. This isn’t the Halo 5 animations (Yes, they are the same as Halo 4’s were…at least the ones in the beta).
3. New Map.
Although all the games have introduced to us a new map in the world for us to explore, this one is going to be different–and not just because of size. Horses, or, erm, carriages, have made a prominent step in the way your character will frolic through the streets. And yes, this is in the map section of this article. They are a part of the map–something you can use and move to your advantage. Horses haven’t really been relied on since Brotherhood, which is my personal favourite Assassin’s Creed game, and I loved hopping from horse to horse to get the Grand Theft Dressage achievement, so I guarantee an achievement along the lines will be in. But Ubisoft has also been kind enough to make these carriages hiding spots for your character as well, so you need not worry of being caught up in the area of the map running away from a horde of enemies with guns that will shoot you and slow you down, searching frantically for a hiding spot, because you will hopefully have one close enough that it won’t matter.
New location means new buildings, new landmarks, and new concepts. The buildings seen in this game seem to tower over most other buildings in any AC game, and their new styles will mean that if we decide to climb them and not zip right up them, we will have to memorize the new pattern in the buildings for us to climb up. Although in the grand scheme of the game, this is small, it is still something I’ll enjoy seeing.
Since it is a new location, aka London, we’ll get to see Victorian Era London landmarks, such as St. Paul’s cathedral, Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, the Tower of London, and a whole lot more. And even though most people don’t care, myself included kind of, it adds a nice flair to the game having these elements.
What I mean when I say concepts is not the art concepts that you see scattered across the web and special collector’s editions of movies, but rather the skybox. From what we’ve seen of gameplay, it’s damn pretty. And we barely see it. I can’t wait to see the skyscape, landscape, hell, pretty much everything non-interactable. This game setting-wise couldn’t look or be better, and I just want to get the point across–this isn’t Unity.
So will Assassin’s Creed Syndicate live up to what we want it to be? Right now, I would love to say yes. But remembering the hype Unity got, and Watch_Dogs got, we have to be careful. So it’s most likely a yes, but even if I was 100% sure, it wouldn’t be guaranteed. But I will be playing the game and studying it at the FanExpo in Toronto coming in September, so stay frosty for any articles to follow this one.