Assassin's Creed Syndicate (Xbox One)
Has COD syndrome ruined one of the most imaginative video game series of our generation?
Yes. That’s it. That’s our review. Syndicate is terrible. Good night.
Ha, I’m kidding. To truly appreciate Assassin's Creed Syndicate, let's examine some of its AAA predecessors. This includes Assassin's Creed Unity’s glitch-filled shit-a-thon, Assassin's Creed 3’s horrid framerate issues, and the terribly written money-grab that is Assassin's Creed Revelations. Year after year, the series rolled in a cartoon dust cloud of hidden blades and money into a garbage pit of half assed design and soullessness.
Despite those shortcomings, gamers gave them each a chance. For us, those were dark times of rain and thunder. For EA, that rain was money. And what else is a poor, billion-dollar publisher to do but dance in the rain like an eager exotic dancer? Release a good Assassin's Creed game? Don't be daft.
Finally, EA's release of AC Unity transformed this treasured, thought provoking series into a glitch ridden, repetitive, mindless stab-fest. Fans became grieving widows, willing to give anything to have their awesome video games as AC Unity would go on to collect universally bad press for forgetting to make sure all faces work correctly.
|I wonder which Tumblr sexuality that kiss would fall under.|
No gamer expects to outlive it’s favorite video game series, and AC Unity pulled the plug. For EA, the money rain had stopped. But for gamers, the rain had just begun.
This is where we are with Syndicate: A seemingly murdered video game series, fans lamenting for salvation, and EA releasing a ripe ol’ duke into their open hands in the form Assassin's Creed Syndicate. Surely some lessons were learned since the last game, yes?
UNSURPRISINGLY AN AWESOME SPECTACLE
Well there is some wholesome goodness to be found. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate tells the story of badass twins Evie and Jacob Frye stabbing folk during the Industrial Revolution in London. During their corpse filled journey, they’ll meet annoying caricatures of Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Alexander Bell, Florence Nightingale and other British historical figures that I’ve never learned of because of my American education. I’m pretty sure half of those names are made up anyway.
|That nightingale has quite beautiful trot.|
But it’s that setting of 1886 London that Syndicate really has going for it. Just look at these screenshots. This game is absolutely gorgeous, faithfully recreating the grunge one thinks of when they hear “industrial revolution”.
I think AC Unity looked prettier, but that’s consequence of the location as I’m sure 1886 London was just as filthy as depicted in this game.
There were a few times where I honestly played this game just to appreciate the visual style of it all.
Lest I forget, AC Syndicate also comes packaged with an ear-porn quality soundtrack that you ought to take a good ear-gander at, ya' hoosier.
But pretty visuals and great music are always fleeting appeals, so how does the actual game play? It’s textbook Assassin’s Creed. As either Evie or Jacob, your missions usually require you to stab someone at some point after infiltrating an area undetected. Each mission offers multiple ways to reach your target, but AC Syndicate does that annoying thing where there’s only one best method and the other methods will have you fighting ten enemies at once.
So, free roaming the over world as the classy, focused Evie is where you’ll have the most fun. She is the astute stealthiness makes her the pick for missions. Jacob on the other hand is an over-confident, beautiful white man that we’ve seen in AC games before which makes him kind of dull. Also, as a playable character, Jacob is easily detected by enemies which makes me question his inclusion in the first place. Sure, he’s more powerful than Evie, but stealth is vastly more beneficial than stronger attacks in AC Syndicate.
|Its okay EA, gamers can handle a strong female lead in a major AC game now.|
Whoever you choose, the sheer badassery of the cinematic executions in combat will drop your jaw to the floor. It will get repetitive, as combat requires you to press specific buttons in reaction to an enemies’ movements. That works for three or four enemies, but any more than that and it becomes an exercise of tedium. But your God is that combat sooo satisfying to execute. I guess some things never change.
What’s definitely an improvement over the last AC game is that if one enemy detects you, he doesn’t automatically alert all nearby enemies. He’ll first have to alert them, meaning if you kill him fast enough, you won’ have to fight his entire brood off of your ass. Too bad the frame rate drops will lead you to jumping right in front of other enemies anyway. Thanks, Ubisoft.
Anyway, Syndicate adds drivable horse drawn carriages in the mix along with a Batman grappling hook. The carriages are great because trampling scores of NPCs in any given moment really satisfies the sociopathic itch, obviously.
The grappling hook's reach makes escaping enemies easier than it’s ever been across rooftops. Also, design wise, there are less platforms conspicuously placed for the sake of pakour, resulting in a more believable looking London.
It may seem like I’m scraping for good points but...
...I AM BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH WRONG
Glitches. That’s right, they’re back. Besides a character or two not appearing in cutscenes, the glitches also affect gameplay. you can whistle when you’re around a corner to lure an enemy over and knock them out. However, if they are slightly higher up than you do to a small step in elevation, attempting to knock them out will alert the enemy. Even if you stab him quickly, he of course will whistle like a bitch to alert all nearby enemies, failing countless missions in the process.
Trust me, when the game breaks it’s own rules to ruin your perfect score, keep all electronics out of arm-throwing reaching. This has made me so angry once that I turned off the game and began reading a book. Reading! That’s the complete opposite of playing a video game!!!
|As if books could ever capture the imagination of a generation.|
That brings me my second point: With Syndicate's combat enjoyable only sometimes, pakour, a mainstay of the Assassin's Creed series, is fucking awesome as usual, right? It should be, but action appears to happen a split second after your input. In a stealth game, that time matters and can make the difference between a perfectly timed jump and accidently landing right in front of a gaggle of enemies.
Also, the same carriages and grappling hook that allow for a more believably designed London almost makes pakour obsolete in Syndicate. Why would you clamber over rooftops to reach your destination when driving a carriage is faster? I understand the design change, but the changes makes exploration a mundane task no where near as exciting as it once was. Even if you decide to hoof it via rooftop, the game’s inconsistent frame rate makes timing your jumps a PITA.
Oh, right, there's poor framerate joining the mix during my play through on XB1. Admittedly, the frame rate issues on the PC version are more widespread. Regardless, there’s simply no excuse for this when the near-realistic visuals of Star Wars: Battlefront are as smooth as butter on XB1 while support 40 players online.
AN EXERCISE IN MEDIOCRITY
While graphical effects, awesomely improved combat, and Evie's endearing character are great things to have, the numerous glitches, screen stuttering, and frame-rate issues make Syndicate play like a place holder title even though its not meant to be one.
This game won’t make you contemplate complexities of human will like the first game, it won't fill you with a sense of grand adventure as AC2 has done, and you won't care about the characters like you did in AC4. But you will feel the dread of AC Revelation's terrible story, AC3's boredom, and AC Unity's experience-ruining glitches.
It’s like eating funnel-cake non-stop for 9 years in that you will die. And dearest gamer, the storm clouds and rain has rolled in and you're in a funeral scene from every movie ever created. Yup, Assassin’s Creed has died of COD Syndrome.
Drama aside, fans like me and you are still hoping that 2017 brings good news to the franchise. The truth is that Syndicate is a weak, club soda cleanse when the series really needs a hacksaw, a bathtub, and hydrofluoric acid. For that reason, I recommend waiting for a price drop of around $30 before purchasing Syndicate. Prospective AC fans ought to give this one a rental, or better yet play the vastly more enjoyable AC4.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Assassin's Creed: Syndicate sold so poorly that EA is not producing a new AC game in 2016 to find new methods of turd polishing. We here at PMI sincerely wish Ubisoft the best in 2017.
• In solidarity of Syndicate’s poor quality, I wrote this review in a day.
• We should have bought Far Cry: Primal instead.