Good Game. Bad Ending
Guys and girls, I have always enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and have played every single one of them, simply for the sake of the story. It gave me an opportunity to explore different periods of time, such as Renaissance Italy, or the Caribbean in the golden age of piracy, and those two benefits have been the best part of the AC franchise; with the exception of Black Flag which was simply an overall wonderful game and still the best of the franchise.
The two most recent installments, Unity and Rogue left much to be desired. Unity was a disaster of story telling and mechanics and might as well been called Assassin’s Creed: Glitch Fest 2014. I learned this the hard way when I went to air assassinate some poor son of a bitch and instead wound up missing the target and stuck standing inside of a wagon unable to escape, or be killed, my own personal Sisyphus legend. Obviously, the newest installment Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate had a lot of making up to do, and for the most part it does that, so lets get into this thing.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate takes us into the shoes of Jacob and Evie Frye, sibling assassins in Victorian London. An AC setting has never looked so beautiful. The game manages to capture the bleakness of London’s squalor in the 1800’s. Crouching atop Big Ben, and looking around offers a beautiful look at your surroundings. The thick black smoke rising from the smoke stacks of a distant factory, an almost endless stream of cargo boats cluttering up the Thames far below… this game does more than mimic Victorian London. This game IS Victorian London in all it’s beauty and squalor, which it magnificently melds here. The beauty of Buckingham Palace and Big Ben meshes perfectly with the dirt and squalor of the rest of London, where the few rich live large and the poor live in shit. The world is so exquisite I half expected to run into the characters from Penny Dreadful at some point.
It’s Not A Game. It’s An Interactive Movie
Another aspect that adds to the entire experience is the soundtrack, the music in this game is absolutely exquisite, Syndicate single handedly has the best music since the incredible Black Flag soundtrack, an amazing mix of orchestral pieces and operatic pieces, this game is an interactive movie.
The gameplay mechanics aren’t much different from the previous AC installments. However, the use of separate protagonists, each with different personalities and skills, is a true triumph. This allows each player to gravitate towards whomever suits their play style and personality.
Evie is slick, stealthy, and quiet and she prefers to kill that way, some people play this style of game so they will gravitate towards Evie, I am not one of them.
Jacob is more confrontational and, in my opinion is the stronger fighter. This is my personal style of play. I often find it faster, more fun, and easier to engage in a straight up brawl. It’s much easier to complete your mission when all opposition is dead.
A wonderful aspect that has been added into the AC world are the gangs. Jacob decides to conquer London via the streets, and his gang, The Rooks. Once you’ve conquered all the neighborhoods in a certain territory (such as Whitechapel) you’ll be challenged to a gang war. These are a lot of fun. I just wish they were bigger.
When I heard Victorian London gang war I expected the opening fight from Gangs of New York, not the fight from the end of The Outsiders (if that). Unfortunately there’s really only two gangs The Rooks and The Blighters. Including more gangs with some sort of politics system would have made this aspect of the game a lot more fun.
Power, politics and strategic alliances have always been a part of gang land.The gang aspect of the game should have been treated like the mafia, with multiple factions, and a hierarchy in place. This would have allowed for the player to conquer territory using a bit more strategy and savvy. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor’s nemesis system springs to mind. Imagine the possibilities if you could simply kill the leader of a rival faction in order to place an ambitious underling in charge, as a puppet leader. Or offering the gang money and power in order to turn on their own leader. A system like that would have taken a fun aspect and turned it into a selling point, allowing a player to take over the streets using their own particular, unique brand of skill, savvy and savagery.
The only real problem I can think of is the ending, which i won’t spoil for anybody here. It does involve fighting a man in a magic shawl thing, and doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the game. Also, the problem with having such a beautifully built environment is that it makes you long to see what they can do with an Ancient Rome, Greece or Egypt.
The biggest problem in my mind with the AC franchise is the same problem I see with the Call of Duty franchise. It keeps going forward when there is still plenty of interesting ground to cover in the past.
Assassin’s Creed is now at the point where the Western world begins taking its modern shape. Guns, cannons, steam ships and railroads are beginning to rule the landscape, and considering they even lightly covered WWI in Syndicate, I don’t see how they can continue to go forwards in time. Ubisoft basically has the beginning of man all the way up to the Crusades, and the eras in between installments to show us and let us play around in. Should they decide to go Elsewhere I am definitely excited to see what the future has in store.
Welcome to the Brotherhood, boys and girls.