23 Oct 2015

The Hope of a Syndicate - Video Games

Assassin’s Creed is a favorite series of mine. Assassin’s Creed: Unity did not do well in bringing the series main launches from the seventh generation systems which birthed the franchise into the new eighth generation of consoles.

Today Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate will be released and I’m avoiding the reviews. Since the first game I am not picking up the game upon launch. Assassin’s Creed: Unity poisoned the well and made me think twice about picking up the game right away. Also I have no need to get it right away, I’m busy.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is giving me plenty of an open world, semi-stealth game with an overdone plot in a semi-historical setting. It’s also looking like Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will be able to last me or I may still be in the midst of completing it by the time my life goes deep into the world of Fallout 4. Fallout 4 is my anticipated game of the year.

Yet I feel the tug. The slight movement as I’m asked by ghosts from afar, maybe the First Civilization from the game’s own mythos, to pick up and play the game.

So we know what’s coming, let’s go over why Assassin’s Creed deserves a second chance… knowing that might not happen until after the holiday season.

Right away the gameplay is unique. We have for the first time in a major release, but not in the franchise, the ability to play a women protagonist; Evie Frye. She is the level headed, big picture looking, and stealthy character. You can also play as her brother Jacob Frye, a brash, sarcastic, and in your face character more in line with a young Ezio, Edward Kenway, or Shay Cormac – the classic characters represented in previous games.

Evie is supposedly faster and later can even unlock the ability to become invisible when still. Jacob is reported to be tougher and better in a toe to toe fight. Early details state that you can play the majority of the game; side missions and open world exploring as the Frye of your choice. During main missions players will be able to pick between the siblings or they will be forced into the shoes of a given Frye to push the story forward.

I’m hoping this dynamic change in story will allow for more memorable characters and a stronger story arc. Assassin’s Creed: Unity was a mess plot wise – Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty had a stronger plot before unravelling in the end with plot twists. Unity got better as the story became more focused at the back half of the game, but outside of Arno and his love interest (who’s name escapes me) not a single NPC in the story made any impact (minus Napoleon) and made me follow the normally interesting backdrop of the game.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity also changed up the gameplay and mechanics. Much like the first Assassin’s Creed, the traversal system was a fresh but it showed its inexperience and fell apart on me a few times. I’m hoping that Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate will have updated and fixed some of the issues with the system much like Assassin’s Creed 2 did for the franchise. I’m also looking forward to using the Zip Line and Rope Launcher (aka Bat Rope) to move about the larger city much like I did in Tenchu and later on in the most recent of Arkham series of Batman games.

The largest change is the lack of multiplayer in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Assassin’s Creed: Unit pushed its co-operative multiplayer portions which worked pretty well – except the skill progression blocks which prevented players to upgrading the skills and abilities of their characters unless they completed main story missions. Stalling the progression of a character until the player moved forward in the primary plot pulled players like myself and my brother out of the game who wanted to progress together in the game with our online characters only to have to log off and play through the game solo in order to earn those wanted skills. The division of skills with the pour character advancement mechanic was opposite to the adverts that showed a team of diverse assassin’s each bringing a different style and skill set to the match.

Lastly I want to see more of the meta story, which hasn't had a lot of presence since Assassin's Creed 3. I want to know more about Juno, the First Civilization, and the new targets the Sage's. I doubt that there will be much drive in the meta story of the game. Since Desmond Miles passed away saving the planet in Assassin's Creed 3, there has been very little to do regarding the present day Assassins and Templars. Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag was the last time players interacted in the present world while Assassin's Creed: Unity only had voices that broke the barrier between the meta game and the primary plot. I think Ubi Soft will put more into the meta story once the games are making the grade in order to justify the extra exspense of crafting that additional experience.

I’m looking forward to Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and I think it will be a great game but I’m not rushing out to get it.

- Cheers