OPINION: ‘Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’ – Rated M for Meh
A STEAMING PILE
I should start by saying that I am a lifelong Assassin’s Creed fan, to the point of obsession. I bought Assassin’s Creed II the day I turned 17 because the box art was cool, and I wanted to get my first M-rated game without needing my parents to buy it for me. I ordered the original Assassin’s Creed a few weeks later, and ever since then, I have been buying each game on release day. With that, I was particularly interested in the announcement of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
My overall impression of Syndicate, which was originally codenamed Victory, is one of apathy. We have known about the Victorian London setting for a while—ever since last year’s leak—so missing was the initial excitement for the newly revealed setting. But my lack of excitement is more than that. Syndicate looks like a strange brew of GTA, the Arkham series, Assassin’s Creed Unity and Brotherhood and gangster warfare, all in the “new” setting of Victorian London, but there isn’t much of anything new about Syndicate. This year alone had two other Victorian London games, The Order: 1886 and Bloodborne. The time period has been exhaustively explored in movies and TV as well, e.g. Peaky Blinders. The game looks eerily similar to Unity, one of the biggest disappointments of last year. It also sounds suspiciously like Brotherhood, with the focus of the game resting on the liberation of the city by means of recruiting regular townsfolk to fight alongside you. In a first for the series, Syndicate will feature two fully playable protagonists (Altair and Ezio in Revelations and Haytham and Connor in III don’t count), which was already done to near perfection in GTA V.
Syndicate also features a new grappling hook for easier traversal, which looks to function almost exactly like the grappling hook in the Arkham series. The main protagonist himself, Jacob Frye, is another brash, young, white, male assassin with a snarky attitude and a fondness for murder and parkour, just like Ezio, Edward, Arno and to a certain extent, Altair. Gangsters have been a staple in popular culture for almost 50 years now, and the sudden jump to a different time period does little to change that. Almost every single aspect of the Syndicate is derivative, which does little to excite me.
All of that being said, the game doesn’t look all bad. Syndicate is going to completely scrap the multiplayer elements that have distracted players and developers in the past, intending to go back to the roots of the series. Without focusing on any specific historical event like the American or French Revolutions, the game is free to tell its own story, instead of just being a historical sightseeing tour with lots of stabbing. While many of the new gameplay features look heavily inspired by other games, that does not necessarily take away from the enjoyment of them. The game is fixing many of the bigger issues with the gameplay of last year’s Unity, such as the return of whistling and less finicky cover mechanics. The developers have made every effort to try to make up for the buggy launch of Unity, and it shows. Whether or not this will change things for Syndicate’s critical reception remains to be seen.
In the end, Syndicate looks okay, but okay doesn’t sell me games. And if they can’t get me excited, given my loyalty the the series, than Ubisoft needs to really impress at E3. It is telling that I am debating whether or not to get the game on day one, which is the first time I have even considered not doing so. Ubisoft has a long road ahead of them to make up for Unity’s mistakes, and if today’s announcement is anything to go by, they haven’t done nearly enough.
Is ‘Syndicate’ too derivative? Will you be picking up the game? Tweet me @adam_mcconnell.
The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent the views of YouNerded.
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