Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Is All About Victorian Gangsters, Not Assassins
Assassin’s Creed is a bit of a strange animal now. It struggles to be anything extraordinary, innovative or even good lately, yet it still sells like hotcakes. After being directionless for some time, trying to reboot things with Assassin’s Creed Unity and making mistake after mistake since, Ubisoft is determined to bring out a focused game in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. With Ubisoft Quebec at the helm for the first time, a fresh new setting and an actual fully rendered female character as a protagonist (we’re never going to let this go), the game looks set to maybe not suck.
Although maybe we’re just eternal optimists who still kick the horse long after its dead, decomposed and hating us from the other side.
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Be that as it may Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate certainly has an intrigue about it with its fantastic setting, absence of Ubisoft Montreal as the developer for the first time and the fact that its forgoing multiplayer in an attempt to deliver a quality, working single player offering. With that in mind let’s take a look at the reasons that you may want to play the game for, and talk a little about it while we’re at it.
Name: Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
Genre: Playable Females
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developers: Ubisoft Quebec
Release Date: 23 October 2015 (PS4, Xbox One), 19 November (PC)
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate takes place in London in 1868 during the Industrial Revolution, a pivotal point in history where technology is on the rise, machines are replacing hand production, coal is king and steam power is a thing. You’ll take on the roles – yes that is plural – of twins Jacob and Evie Frye as they worm their way through a mess of organised crime during the Victorian era and fight against the order controlled by *gasp* the Templars.
As if you were expecting any other villain in Assassin’s Creed. What do the Templars even do or stand for anymore? I doubt anyone, including Ubisoft, knows.
This is a time period in which the Assassin Brotherhood is close to extinction, which is a stark contrast to its strength in Assassin’s Creed: Unity. However both Jacob and Evie have been raised as Assassins to follow the Creed, which explains their natural tendency to want to stab Templars. In their quest to take back the city, the twins will encounter famous old souls such as novelist Charles Dickens and biologist Charles Darwin.
Beyond the story there’s something else immediately interesting here in the premise. It’s the fact that for the first time in an Assassin’s Creed game we’ll be following two protagonists and both will be playable. Well that’s not entirely accurate because in Assassin’s Creed 3 we took on the role of a certain character for a period of time in the beginning. It would be closer to the truth to say that it’s the first time you’ll be able to freely switch between the two characters.
The differences between the two characters Jacob and Evie will be more than cosmetic and double the animations. While Jacob will be more of a hot-headed brawler who does well in close combat and bar fights, Evie is the stealth expert who uses intelligence and wit rather than fisticuffs to deal with her problems. A note on combat is that it seems Assassin’s Creed will finally evolve to Batman’s level as multiple enemies will attack the player at once in an attempt to make fighting more frenetic.
Jacob and Evie will each possess unique abilities as a result of their differences. As an example of such, Evie will have a ‘Chameleon’ ability that allows her to become practically invisible to enemies when she isn’t moving, and this skill can be used even in the open world while you’re playing as her. It’s a nice example of how each character will bring something to the table, and be more than a mere skin change.
With regards to the general gameplay the so-called alpha footage had an extreme resemblance to Assassin’s Creed Unity, but fortunately looks to have better combat than that mess. In addition to the already spoken about combat, Syndicate will bring in new ways to traverse the city. One of those is a rope launcher, which will let you rappel up buildings and zip-line between them. Another will be vehicles such as the carriages which you can hijack GTA style, and the trains.
Let’s put our cards on the table and admit now that we’re all going to jump on top of trains and ride them like we would horses. Hopefully the vistas are nice enough to look at and indulge in as we do that.
Ubisoft has said that the game’s location, London, will be around 30% larger than Paris in Assassin’s Creed Unity, and consist of six boroughs: Westminster, the Strand, the City of London, Whitechapel, Southwark and Lambeth.
This should be enough to make you quite worried, because Ubisoft has a history of not understanding that size isn’t all that matters. What you do with that size is what matters. It’s not just space, but density. It’s meaningful variety and content. Ubisoft just seems to stuff thousands of meaningless things onto a gigantic map and call that meaningful. It’s really just feeding a completionist’s hellish addiction, and little else.
Or maybe that’s only Ubisoft Montreal’s way of doing things, because Quebec has said that side missions in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate were designed to reflect the fight for power in London and will be cohesive to the game’s main story. We can hope it turns out like that.
What will inspire some confidence though is that the game will have no multiplayer mode, and won’t feature a companion app. Not only is there a better chance that the game will be better, but this news also seriously improves the chances that it won’t launch in a terrible state, have server issues or more of those cheap Unity gimmicks.
Suspected Selling Points
- The strong focus on the single-player may just be exactly what this series needs. In addition to rendering playable female characters.
- The setting is ideal for crafting a unique Assassin’s Creed game that can bring something fresh to the table with its themes, technology and story.
- It’s the first main entry to not be developed by Ubisoft Montreal, and a fresh face in the development seat with Quebec may be the secret ingredient for success.
- It may be a new developer at the helm but Ubisoft is notorious for making giant open worlds with not much in them. With London being 30% larger than Paris, we could have a new headache on our hands, especially if London is utilised as little as Paris was as an integral part of the story.
- Assassin’s Creed Syndicate really has to do a lot if it wants to match the quality of the open world games we’ve had this year. It’s seriously on the back foot as it is, and expectations won’t be so easily satisfied.
- With Assassin’s Creed Unity having committed a laundry list of crimes both before and after release, there’s a mountain for the game to climb without even factoring in the competition.
It’s hard to get even a little excited about an Assassin’s Creed game these days, and confidence is in short supply. Despite that however Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has a chance, perhaps the last chance. It’s got all the ingredients for success including a fantastic setting, a new developer, a focus on only single-player and even better public relations – because that couldn’t get worse.
Perhaps it’s enough to give the game a chance? We still have to wait for review scores, critique and quality discussion, but in the mean time it can’t hurt to at least keep an eye on Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate as what could be the game changer for a series in desperate need of some quality.