The transition into Fall brings with it a number of certainties: a change in the leaves, pumpkin spiced everything, and another entry in Ubisoft’s killer Assassin’s Creed franchise. Thanks to the fine folks at the PlayStation Canada Lounge, Button Masher had a chance to go hands on with the game a month before its launch. Here’s what we thought!
Last year’s Assassin’s Creed Unity was a deep burn for a lot of AC fans. The version of the game available at launch was plagued by choppy frame rates, visual glitches, and the occasionally reported console-crashing bug that, for many, turned what was supposed to be a next generation revolution in the series into an unpolished mess. The game was later patched to rectify these technical issues, but couldn’t patch up the hurt felt by fans who had already traded in their copies and moved.
But will the series’ second stab at the next gen hardware be enough to make amends?
Syndicate’s world is promising and vast, and while no major bugs were present during my brief time with the game, the London-set sequence unfortunately never grabbed me with any wow factor.
The demo section starred Evie Frye, the first playable female character in the series’ core console games, as she infiltrated an English castle to assassinate her order’s latest target. Even in this short sequence Evie comes off as incredibly likable, something that can’t be said for most of the AC heroes since Ezio Auditore.
The game runs on the same engine from Unity and, likely due its quick followup time, possesses little to no upgrades in the visual department. It’s funny what a difference one year’s time can have on our standards for graphics quality: this time last year Unity looked unbelievable, and only one year later its same-engine sequel looks okay at best compared to other games we’ve seen.
This latest assassin comes equipped with a new grapple gun / line launching tool that allows players to scale tall buildings and create wires to traverse across large gaps, much like the tools present in the Batman: Arkham games. It’s a fun and welcome addition that manages to keep the series’ tried and true parkour traversal from feeling stale.
For a game about the assassins who sneak through the pages of history, I’ve always felt the AC stealth mechanics left something to be desired. Here too, enemies seem to unfairly and randomly take notice of you, resulting in every attempt at a cool and stealthy assassination turning into your fiftieth round of one-versus-twenty fisticuffs. Perhaps I just haven’t grasped the subtleties of AC’s stealth system, but I’d like to imagine after playing six of these games that it’s not just me. Similarly, combat hasn’t seem to have changed much at all from that of previous installments.
At the end of the day, Syndicate is another Assassin’s Creed game and not much else. Ubisoft certainly seems to have gone to much greater lengths in quality assurance than they did with Unity, but whether you enjoy this latest game will be entirely dependent on where you stand with the franchise today: if you’ve grown tired of the same formula that’s been present since AC 2, there isn’t much new to be found here; but if you’re still hooked on the thrill of sinking a hidden blade or two into a baddie, you’ll have a lovely stay in Ubisoft’s vision of foggy ol’ London Town.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate launches on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 23rd.